Let Them Go

Kids spend up to 75% of their day--or half of their waking hours--in day care or with hired help. Despite the threat of watching your children love someone else, allowing them to build strong bonds with others benefits their development tremendously.

"The various relationships are independent," explains James Elicker, Ph.D., assistant professor of child development and family studies at Purdue University. "For the child, it's two different worlds."

Elicker and fellow researchers observed 41 toddlers in 23 home daycare facilities, measuring their level of attachment and security with caregivers.

According to their findings, published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, kids cared for by hired help do indeed develop secure attachments to their caregivers, which is good--the kids will be less likely to have emotional or behavioral problems, be more sociable, develop better relationships with peers and be more motivated to try new things. "It's the full-time caregiver who lays a foundation for future emotional development," says Elicker. And it doesn't impede the child's development if that caregiver is not a parent.

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Elicker suggests parents choose caregivers who love children and have training in child development, or daycare centers small enough for the child to receive nurturing attention.

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