Children who spend time in nurseries ‘more likely to develop behavioural problems’


Childcare study reveals behaviour issuesA major study of childcare has released evidence that children who spend time in nurseries or with child-minders are more likely to develop behavioural problems such as hyperactivity, bad behaviour and could be linked to emotional problems.

Oxford University researchers studied 991 families, where the mother was around thirty years old, and at least one child was aged around three months.

The team then assessed the children at the age of four, with questionnaires about their behaviour and emotions completed by both carers and parents. They also observed the type of care provided by parents and non-parental care for at least 90 minutes for those children placed in formal childcare settings.

The report, published in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development, said that “children who spent more time in group care, mainly nursery care, were more likely to have behavioural problems, particularly hyperactivity.  Spending more time in day care centres, over the total period was a predictor of total problem scores”.

“Children who spent more time in day care centres were more likely to be hyperactive,” the report states. “Children receiving more care by childminders were more likely to have peer problems.”

The authors concluded: “The findings in relation to childminding suggest that it might be out of home care rather than group care that raises the risk of behavioural difficulties.”

The researchers also tracked other forms of early years care and found that children who spent more time in pre-school playgroups – normally for a few hours a day, rather than a full-time nursery – had fewer problems.

The study states: “These findings suggest that interventions to enhance children’s emotional and behavioural development might best focus on supporting families and augmenting the quality of care in the home.”

In reply, Anand Shukla, of the Family and Childcare Trust, said: “Research shows that children who attend a nursery are better prepared for school and usually have better social skills such as cooperation with peers – skills which are essential to a child’s future happiness and good mental health. Often both parents have to work in order to maintain a family home.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We are reforming childcare and increasing high quality provision. Good quality early years education has been shown to have a lasting positive impact on children’s attainment and behaviour, especially those from low income backgrounds.”

Figures from the Department state that 441,000 children under five are regularly cared for in day nurseries while 272,000 are being looked after by childminders.

Children raised in poor families with high levels of parental stress or mental health problems were most at risk of developing emotional problems by the time they started school, it emerged.


3 thoughts on “Children who spend time in nurseries ‘more likely to develop behavioural problems’

  • October 19, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Wipeout, I hope you do not work in a nursery!!

  • October 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    The report is flawed in that its not nurseries are childminders that are to blame for bad behaviour of children but the lack of an ability to effectively discipline children who misbehave..

    Parents who don’t use any form of childcare more likely to discipline their children where childcare providers hands are tied when it comes to discipline..

    In nurseries the staff are not permitted to shout and children or even call them “naughty”.. They are told to “reason” with the child and explain why what they have done “isn’t good”.. Reasoning with a 2 year old or trying to explain concepts of what “isn’t good” is a ridiculous concept and obviously doesn’t work..

    It has nothing to do with the quality of the childcare provision or anything like that..

    In fact children’s behaviour in general has become worse as effective discipline methods have been abandoned or condemned.. Bad and antisocial behaviour is an issue that society as a whole is going to have to deal with but obviously that’s getting off the topic of the article..

  • October 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I have worked in nurseries, I have managed my own child minding business and have worked with reception age children, year 1 and year 2 children in primary school.
    I would not agree with these findings on behaviour problems due to children attending regular nursery or child minding groups. These figures with only 9 hundred families is not enough to make this judgement. I do agree with Anand Shukla that children are better prepared for school (socially and emotionally). I have worked in different schools around my local area and found that many of the behaviour problems of children are due to lack of parenting skills. In my experience the children with the worst behaviour problems have;-
    Not enough sleep
    No regular routine of bed times.
    No routine of meal times.
    Parents not understanding the capabilities of what their children can achieve.
    Parents very busy and rushing their children to get every day things done.
    Parents not being good mentors.

    I have found that the children I have looked after, who have also done very well at school have very caring parents who give their children time to explore, time to get ready, time to get things done and most of all praise their children for their efforts in trying new things, rather than picking on the negative things.
    It is very sad that many children are being brought up by parents who have not had good parenting/ mentors themselves.
    I feel that children now are being better looked after by the nurseries, child-minders and schools than ever before, thanks to the government in raising the standards of these professions, without them a lot of children would be a lot worse than they are now.


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