Kids who've spent a lot of time in child care tend to act up years later, studies have shown. But newer research concludes that's not so: Time in child care doesn't correlate with behavior problems later, according to a newly published meta-analysis of studies on children in Europe, Canada and the U.S., reports Hechinger's Jackie Mader.
Overall, the research is mixed, writes Mader. That may reflect the quality of care programs.
A 2019 report on Quebec’s universal preschool program, for example, found children who were placed in participating child care programs had higher rates of aggression and illness, as reported by parents, than their peers living elsewhere in Canada. Those negative effects also persisted into adulthood. . . . Similarly, a 2007 study of children in the United States found more time in center-based care was linked to teacher-reported problem behavior later in elementary school.
However, other studies have found no relation between child care enrollment and problem behavior or even the opposite effect, with children cared for primarily by their mothers — especially in high-risk families — showing more physical aggression than those attending group care.
The new report, which finds "no link between time in child care and poor behavior," doesn't look at the quality of care, writes Mader. However, it looks only at short-term effects.