The Short of it
Parents who work tend to stress about sending their children to daycare. But a new study involving almost 1,000 Norwegian children enrolled in daycare found that spending time in childcare settings had little impact on aggressive behavior.
The majority of families need a duel income these days (and, of course, single parents heading back to work after baby need childcare, too) — which means many babies and kids are sent to daycare. In Norway, super-lucky parents have up to a year of parent leave, so children in that country rarely start attending daycare before they are 9 months old. Even so, researchers for this study, published in Psychological Science, interviewed the parents of Norwegian kids age 6 months to 4 years, who attended daycare, and looked at teacher-reported agression for each child (meaning their tendency to hit, push, and bite.)
"One surprising finding was that the longer children were in non-parental care, the smaller the effects on aggression became," said Eric Dearing, lead author on the study. "From a public perspective, our findings are important because they should help ease parents' fears about the potential harms of early non-parental child care," says Eric Dearing.
My son attended the Goddard School when he was a baby, right up until he was 5. It wasn't easy to leave him at such a young age, but I quickly saw amazing growth in his social and verbal skills. At age 1 he was finger-painting and playing with other babies; by age 4 he was reading. Far from feeling guilty about the time he spent outside of my care, I actually believe daycare gave my son an edge. In a word: daycare rocks!