By Cheryl Maday, published on November 1, 1999 - last reviewed on August 30, 2004
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
Elicker and fellow researchers observed 41 toddlers in 23 home
daycare facilities, measuring their level of attachment and security with
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.
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.