Attack Of The Mummy Guilt: Is Daycare Really Bad For Kids?

Breaking news: yet another study says daycare is bad for kids and working mothers all over our great nation get a serious attack of the guilts, again. This time, the recent study is from the University of Adelaide’s School of Population Health, but the message is a recurring one: if you put your child in daycare, you are a bad, bad mummy.

Related: Should Daycare Centres Have Zero Tolerance To Violent Kids

I’m being highly sarcastic of course – many, many women (and men) have to work out of sheer economic necessity, so daycare isn’t a choice, it’s an essential. And even if you don’t work, but are juggling other small kids or – gasp – just want some kid-free time to yourself, you selfish heathen, you – daycare performs a vitally important role in our society.

In addition, if you’re lucky enough to a) find a good daycare centre you can afford and b) a good daycare centre that has vacancies to begin with – this in itself feels like a major miracle and something to be grateful and happy about.

But no – along comes another set of uni researchers who seem hell bent on making parents, particularly working mums, feel bad about their choices. Well, I’m calling bullshit on this study!

It claims a link between children in daycare centres and behavioural problems. The study revealed that in a study of 3200 children in all types of childcare, by the time the kids were four, the children were more likely to be hyperactive, disruptive and aggressive.

As to why this is, PhD student Angela Gialamas – who contributed to the study – has said it’s due to a lack of consistency of care as daycare kids are moved around from room-to-room as they get older.

This study received much press, so good work, University of Adelaide! Round of applause. And my fave quote goes to the aforementioned Angela Gialamas who said: “The last thing we want to do is make parents feel guilty about childcare”. Too bloody late, Angela?!

daycare, working mums, uni study

You see, what a lot of news outlets didn’t focus on was that the same study showed that when daycare kiddies eventually head off to school they were found to be happier, less clingy and less likely to be depressed. Win, win, win!

What’s more – child psychologists say the No.1 predictor of how a child turns out is parents. Not daycare, but parents – providing a safe, loving and nurturing environment for your child which allows him/her to thrive.

In addition, daycare unquestionably teaches kids good social skills and resilience, and how to adapt to structure and routines. From personal experience, our three-year-old daughter’s language skills and socialisation has improved greatly since she started attending daycare twice weekly from the age of two. And, even better, like a great, big soothing balm for my working mummy guilt, she bloody loves going to daycare and has made many firm friends there.

So, enough of these stupid, unhelpful studies – if university researchers really want to help kids, start with their stressed mothers! Why aren’t there more university studies hitting the headlines about how we as a society can better support new mothers? Or, what about one on why bringing up a baby always, always becomes a woman’s job? Or, better still, let’s get uni research boffins really scratching their heads over how best to support women returning to the workforce – gasp – after having had children?!

What do you think?

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November 10, 2014

Should Daycare Centres Have Zero Tolerance to Violent Kids?

In the 1992 US psychological thriller The Hand That Rocks the Cradle there’s a particularly frightening scene when the lead actor Rebecca De Mornay – who plays a crazed nanny – terrorises a little school bully who’s targeting one of her charges.

Now, I’m not a violent woman in the slightest, but when a friend jokingly reminded me of this movie scene, just after the shock and upset of learning the class bully had attacked my three-year-old daughter at her daycare centre, such is the fierceness of mother love, I could scarily relate to the mad nanny’s actions – if only for a second.

RELATED: How To Survive The Daycare Drop-off and Is Your Child Being Bullied?

While it would be very tempting to personally warn the daycare bully not to ever go near my child again, I am trying to trust that the centre’s carers have in fact got this dire situation under control. My daughter’s crime? A happy and sociable child, she simply wanted to play with this school bully, who lashed out at her in anger when she touched his toy.

And this was no normal toddler tantrum – this three-year-old boy, in my opinion, needs the attentions of a child psychologist, stat – he lunged at my daughter’s face with long, dirty nails, leaving deep scratches  just right under her left eye.

I was upset that this had happened to her at all, but even more so when I later learnt from my poor, traumatised daughter, when I got her home, that it was in fact the class bully who had attacked her – it was no random incident.

This kid is a repeat violent offender who’s previously bitten other kids, hit them with sticks and inflicted multiple bruises on yet another little girl, just from hard pinches. I know all this from other parents who have similarly signed incident reports.

So it got me thinking: should daycare centres have zero tolerance to violent kids? Should it there be a one-strike-and-you’re-out policy to weed out class bullies? I believe so.

bullying, violent kids, daycare centre
Unfortunately, our daycare centre doesn’t agree: they say they’re duty-bound to work closely with the class bully, and his parents, to improve his behaviour. Indeed, they protected him by not immediately revealing to me that it was he who had attacked my daughter.

Well, as I’ve told them, I don’t think this is good enough. I have every right, as a parent, to expect my child will be going to safe place, when I drop her off at their daycare centre twice weekly. Indeed, I am paying them for such a service.

Why should parents have to be anxious about their children getting attacked by a class bully, who clearly needs help?

And what will it take for this child to be excluded – a serious injury to some poor, innocent kid?!

And why haven’t this kid’s parents removed him? Don’t they care about the unnecessary stress their bully child is causing the other kids and their parents?

While I could just pull my child out of this daycare centre – and my husband and I are still seriously mulling this over – my daughter has made many good friends there, usually loves attending it and it’s very convenient to our home.

I am currently eagerly awaiting a response to my above concerns from my state government’s Early Childhood Education and Care which regulates early childhood education and care services.

What do you think? Should class bullies and violent kids at daycare centres be excluded?

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October 10, 2014