Well knock me over with a feather. Who could have known that fearful, fussy, sensitive babies need their mothers?
NEW YORK — Day care may prevent certain children from establishing a healthy relationship with their parents, a new study suggests.Daycare workers are hirelings who neither love nor know their charges. That's not their fault; they aren't their parents. Some daycare employees like kids a lot, which helps, and others aren't crazy about dealing with kids all day, but prefer it to the alternative: manning the fry machine at MacDonald's.
The results show the more time fussy, irritable infants spend in day care, the less likely they are to develop a so-called secure attachment with their mothers. A secure attachment means babies are at ease exploring their surroundings, but can still seek comfort from their mom when they need to — they are not clingy or aloof.
From a glass half-full perspective, the findings also mean irritable infants do better when they're mostly cared for by their parents or other family members.
"People have always thought of irritable, difficult babies as being more likely to have poor outcomes if they have stresses," said study researcher Beth Troutman, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa.
"But the other side of that is that they're more likely to have good outcomes if they have more positive supportive environments," Troutman told LiveScience.
"So it's not just that having them in day care is a risk, but also that irritable babies really benefit from spending time with family members.
In cases when children do form a bond of affection and trust with their keepers, it can't be counted on to last. Turnover is high. Too bad for the eighteen-month old who goes to "school" on Monday and finds that Miss Laurie is gone and is never coming back. Kids can experience grief, too, when they "graduate" into an older room and lose that special person. This happens routinely in a KinderCare-style institution and those losses accumulate over the years. No one really pretends this is the best way to raise children.
Daycare workers will tell you that Mondays and the first days back after several days' absence are frustrating for them because the kids are extra whiny and tearful. Home is where their hearts are.
Strep, influenza, pink-eye, norovirus, rotavirus, hand-foot-mouth disease, impetigo, and more spread rapidly in the daycare setting. Some centers are better than others at cleaning and practicing disease-preventive measures, but it's a losing battle. Sick workers can't always afford to take a day off without pay. And anyway, they're needed by the center to keep the ratios within legal limits.
Sensitive, irritable, rough, or otherwise difficult kids get the worst treatment because they need the most patience and care from their "teachers," not all of whom are able to do so with a smile. Quiet, compliant kids also lose in this situation, getting whatever scraps of time and attention aren't consumed by their more demanding peers.
Oh well, parents and caregivers say; kids are so resilient!
Turns out some of them aren't.
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