Although daycare may not cause all of the emotional problems in children, it can exacerbate them, according to studies by multiple researchers, including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Part of the problem may not be the quality of day care, but the fact that shy children are forced into public settings and groups, leading to stress and aggressive behavior. Talking with your child about interacting with other children during the day may help you learn the real causes of any stress she may be experiencing.
Children in public settings, including daycare, may feel more stress. A study by the Institute of Child Development of the University of Minnesota found that some children under the age of three produced more of the stress hormone cortisol at daycare than they did at home. Parents and teachers described these children as shy, which may mean the daycare experience did not produce the stress–being in public did. Because daycare requires public interaction, daycare did, in a way, increase stress levels in these children. Most children in daycare do not experience more stress, according to Robin Goodman, a clinical associate professor at NYU School of Medicine and Director who discussed the topic on CBS News’s “The Early Show” in 2003.
When children are under stress, this creates behavioral problems, including aggression. Research by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found children who spent most of their day in childcare were three times as likely to have behavior problems when they entered kindergarten than those who stayed at home. The original study found children 17 percent more likely to be aggressive and develop other behavior problems. “Psychology Today” reports that follow-up surveys of children involved in the earlier studies discovered these children were more likely to be described by sixth-grade teachers as aggressive the more time they spent in day care as pre-kindergartners.
Another NICDHD finding showed that the more time children spent in pre-K daycare, the less work they completed independently as grade schoolers. Teachers also reported these children did not make good use of their time and did not finish work on time. These children also had more conflicts with teachers. These findings came despite the fact that daycare was found to have a positive effect on memory, vocabulary and cognitive functions while the children were in daycare.