The Effects of Day Care on Children’s Emotional, Cognitive, and Social Development by Gina Lalli There have been many concerns in the past decades as to whether attending daycare during infancy produces negative or positive effects on the development of children (Belsky and Steinberg 1978, Booth et al. 2002, Egeland and Hiester 1995, Farran and Ramey 1977, Field 1991, Lamb 1996, Peisner-Feinberg et al. 2001, Schwartz 1983). Many of these concerns are influenced by the fear that separating infant from their mother may cause emotional harm to the child or disrupt the mother-infant bond (Belsky and Steinberg 1978, Booth et al. 2002, Egeland and Hiester 1995, Farran and Ramey 1977, Lamb 1996, Schwartz 1983). It is also questioned as to whether home-based maternal care or nonrelative day-care provides the child with more opportunity to develop cognitively and socially (Belsky and Steinberg 1978, Field 1991, Lamb 1996, Peisner-Feinberg et al. 2001). In order to ensure that day-care is not creating adverse effects on children, research on day-care institutions and on the outcomes of children who attend them have been done. The intent of this paper is to explore the concerns adults have regarding the negative effects that children may experience from attending day-care, and how these perceptions are higher than the actual risks in some cases, as well as to describe how high-quality day-care may even benefit certain groups of children. The purpose is to create a better understanding as to how day-care influences children and impacts their development. One aspect of the sociological relevance of this topic stems from socially constructed ideas of women being the primary provider for children and the influence of their presence in their children’s lives. The concern of day-care having adverse effects 1
on children began to emerge when social change allowed women to break from the traditional role of care-taker and instead participate in the workplace. Now that there has been a transition in the gender role of women it is important to consider how other institutions such as day-care effect the development of children. With more and more children attending day-care because of the increase in women gaining full-time employment, research on the day-care institution is also sociologically relevant because of the mere fact that it has provided policy makers with criteria to create standards and regulations for licensed childcare facilities to abide by to help promote positive and healthy development in children. It seems that the ‘quality’ of the day-care received is an extremely important variable in the outcomes of children (Peisner-Feinberg et al. 2001), however, defining high-quality and low-quality is usually left out of many studies. The NICHD Early Child Care Research Network (2002) has provided several factors that are included in their criteria of the quality of a day-care center. It seems that ‘process’ or ‘dynamic’ variables of quality have a direct impact on children’s development, for instance, the understanding and sensitivity of a caregiver. ‘Structural’ variables such as the ratio of child to staff and the amount of education and training that the day-care provider has seem to have indirect effects of child development. Consequently, children who attended ‘high quality’ daycare were probably under the care of educated and sensitive providers, in a small teacherchild ratio. The effects of day care on emotional development When examining the effects that day-care produces on the emotional development of children, which is defined as learning to perceive, appraise, and express emotions
accurately and appropriately, to use emotions to facilitate thinking, to understand and analyze emotions, to use emotional knowledge effectively, and to regulate one's emotions to promote both emotional and intellectual growth (Gerrig and Zimbardo 2002)), the attachment bond between the infant and their mother is often evaluated. One...
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