Having your child in a quality daycare program can be comforting and essential for working parents. But even the best daycare arrangements have disadvantages. Although a daycare center has its benefits, there are also possible negatives associated with choosing an organized daycare center. Armed with the details, you prepare yourself for the reality of this childcare choice.
Your child may never have picked up a cold or ear infection in his young life, but a week into daycare and your whole family may be battling fevers and runny noses, or worse. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that illness often spreads easily when children congregate together in venues such as daycare and school. Frequent and thorough handwashing with antibacterial soap serves as a means of reducing the spread of illness in the home.
You and your child may have worked out a "time out" or reward system that seems to change inappropriate behavior to better behavior. But in a room with a dozen or more toddlers or pre-schoolers, teachers aren't likely to have the time or opportunity to work through all those issues with every child, every day. That's why it's vital that parents and teachers discuss or perhaps compromise on rules and discipline issues to provide the child with some consistency between daycare and home.
When it's your child's turn for snack day, you might try to do the right thing and bring in healthy fruit or maybe cheese and crackers. But the next day, another parent could be packing junk food. Likewise, words you never utter at home can come bounding out of the mouths of babes who hear them from their "classmates." Before enrolling your child in a particular daycare center, visit it and try to get a sense whether this particular program reflects your values and priorities.
Entrusting your child to someone else's care, even for just part of the day, can be troubling for most parents. It's especially so when researchers determine that daycare can lead to a weaker bond between mother and child, particular in the infant and toddler stage. A 1999 study out of the University of North Carolina (published in the November 1999 issue of Developmental Psychology) received considerable attention when researchers explained that the bonds between mother and young child were not as strong if the child was in daycare as opposed to being home with the mother. UNC researchers also noted that "The effect is small, however, and may not cause meaningful differences in such relationships." And the study did note that mothers who made extra efforts to be sensitive to their child's emotional needs could help compensate for the daycare effect.