Attachment in everyday life

  • the impact of different forms of day care on children's social development, including the effects on aggression & peer relations
  • implications of research into attachment & day care for child care practises
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How does daycare affect children's social developm

The different types of daycare refer to project

How can daycare affect social development?

Social development: how children learn to interact in a socially accetaple manner e.g sharing with others, talking, playing co-operatively etc. Activities may include: dance, climb frame, sand pit etc. 

There have been several studies that suggest childcare can be helpful for children's social development.

Clarsk-Stewast 1991 compared the progress of 150 children who had experienced different kinds of day care & found that children who attended nurseries had better social development than those who were looked after in family setting.

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How can daycare affect social development? (contin

However other studies have presented contradictory findings & argue that day care may have a negative effect on social development. Dillalla 1988 found a negative correlation between the amount of time children spend in care & their amounts of pro-social behaviour. Children who spend more time in day care were less cooperative & helpful in their relationships with other children.

Can daycare have negative effects?

  • Others have argued it can have negative effects on social development
  • Belsky found negative effects from a longitudinal study in U.S which followed over 1000 children from birth

Belsky 2006 suggests that children who have experiences day care tend to show advanced cognitive & language development but may also show higher levels of problem behaviours such as aggression towards peers. They may also be less obedient to authority figures e.g adults as they grow older

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Can daycare have negative effects? (continued)

  • The same view was also taken by Maccoby & Lewis 2003 who argues that the more hours spent in day care before age 4.5 correlated with a range of negative social outcomes, including more behaviour problems at school, lower social skills, greater amounts of conflict with teachers
  • Field 1988 agreed with this view & argued that teachers rated children who had been to full time care as more aggressive & assertive with the peers
  • However, while these findings can be interpreted negatively there are others who argue this may simply be a result from the need for the child who attends care to develop greater independence at an earlier age.

This can show itself in both positive & negative ways.

On the one hand, children are more confident in dealing with social situations with peers, but on the other hand this may lead to them to be more challenging of adults.

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Can daycare have negative effects? (continued)

Clarke-Stewart 1990, 1992 argues that this is simply a sign of young children learn to look after themselves & think for themselves at an earlier age when they attended day care.

Other studies have indicated that day car does not always produce children who are more aggressive than home care & that the effect may sometimes be in the other direction! Borge et al. 2004 carried out a study using a representative sample of 3,431, 2-3 year olds living in Canada comparing home-reared with day care children. Maternal questionnaires were used to ask about the child's level of aggression for example, How often does your child kick, bite, or hurt another child? (never, sometimes, often) and How does your child react when accidentally hurt by another child? Borge et al. also took into account the role of family background by considering the occupational background of parents, mother's education, the no. of siblings & family functioning. The findings showed that aggression was significantly higher in home-reared than in day care children. once again, this implies that quality of care may be most important in determining the effects on the child.

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Campbell, Lamb & Hwang 2002

aim see effects of childcare

procedure studied a group of children from Gothenburg in Sweden who all attended childcare continuously between ages 18 months- 3.5 years. Of these, 9 attended family based daycare (childminder) and 30 nursery with a further 9 switching family based -> nursery based care during the study. There were compared with a group of children whose parents had applied for daycare places but did not get due to the competition. At the age of around 18 months, before the children started day care, they were observed in their homes playing with familiar peers. the researcher assessed the standard of care the children were receiving at home using Calwell's Home Inventory, a method of measuring the quality of a child's environment. After they had started day care, they were visited in the day care setting & observed playing with other children for 30 mins. This gave researchers a baseline condition at 18 months to see how socially skilled the children were before day care started. These 2 assessments of the child in family & day care settings was repeated when child was 2 and a half & 3 and a half.

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Campbell, Lamb & Hwang 2002

At age 6.5 the social competence of the children were assessed by asking the care provider to describe the child's social skills. At 8.5, class teachers were asked to give their perceptions of the child's social behaviour. Finally, when they reached 15, each of the p's was visited at home where they completed 2 self-report measurements of social development, the friendship quality questionnaire (FQQ) and a social style questionnaire (SSW) which included a range of q's such as 'How good are you at going place where there are unfamiliar people?

Result Produced a range of interesting findings, In terms of amount of care time spent in day care, children who spent long days in day care (e.g 6-8 hours) under age 3.6 were found to be less socially competent. However those who attended more days per week but shorter days were more socially competent.

In terms of quality of care, the findings were much clearer. Those children who attended high quality care before 3.5 developed better social abilities. Social competence was relatively stable between 3.5- 15. Children who were socially skilled at 3.5 also tended to be socially skilled at 3 later intervals.

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Campbell, Lamb & Hwang 2002

Conclusion Small children who experience long days in day care may become tired & frustrated at having to share adult attention for such a long time, leading to more negative interactions with other children. In contrast, those who attend more shorter days gain more social benefit.

Children's social skills largely develop at 3.5 & than remain relatively constant across childhood.

This study strangely suggests that good quality early childcare for children at least up to 3.5 is important in the development of socially skilled children 7 that their level of social competence persists through to adolescence.

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Campbell, Lamb & Hwang 2002

Methodological Issues

  • prospective approach children to teens, this is a very long follow up allows to asses daycare long term effects
  • all the children who took part were assessed before they started day care as a baseline
  • the researchers used a range of measurements to asses each child's social competence including reports from teachers & self-report from the teens. using data from a range of people produces rich & detailed picture of child's social abilities
  • day care in Sweden is v.well funded cannot be generalised!
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Campbell, Lamb & Hwang 2002

Ethical Issues

  • sensitive issue
  • fully informed consent is very important
  • right to withdraw
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Chilcare facts

  • 1997 government policy that all children in G.B at the age of 4 are eligible for free nursery places
  • 2004 national childcare strategy stated that free state nurseries were to be made available for all 3-4 year olds with OFSTED guidelines on what should be taught
  • the strategy included- support & training for childminders
  • the SURESTART programme was also introduced to support families with children age lower than 3 years old in the economically deprived areas of the country.
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Chilcare facts- more

  • Bowlby in his theory made it clear that:

a. a child should have a secure attachment with an adult

b. that they can have multiple attachments with a range of adults

c. that they need to be able to use the attachment figure as a secure base to explore their environment & seek security

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Comparing different types of day care

Other studies have compared the outcome for children's social development when they attend different types of day care. Melhuish 1990 carried out a quasi-experimental piece of research comparing 3 groups of children in London who started day care before they were 9 months. This study was unusual in its inclusion of informal day care arrangements, which have received v.little attention by way of research. The 3 different day care settings were care by relatives, care by childminder & private nursery. These care settings varied in the ratio of adults to children & in contact with other children. The adult-child ratio was highest when relatives care for the child & lowest in the nursery setting where several children were cared for by each adult. In contrast, contact with other children was highest at nursery & lowest in relative care.

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Comparing different types of day care

M assessed the children at 18 months & 3 years for their language skills & their ability to cooperate & share with other children. At 18 months babies who had been cared for by relatives showed the highest level of language skills & language was least developed in those attending nursery. At 3 years, the nursery children were still slightly less advanced than the relative care group in language but they showed higher levels of pro-social behaviour such as sharing, cooperating & the ability to empathise with other children. This study suggest that choice of day care may be a case of ‘swings & roundabouts’: there may be different potential gains for children in each setting.

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assesing the effects of day care: evaluation

These studies have shown that it can be difficult to asses the effects of day care on children's social development for several reasons:

  • the variety of day care settings: day care arrangements vary & include family & nursery based care. these arrangements differ in terms of adult-child ratios & the no. of other children present. Both of these can influence the child's experience of day care.
  • the time spent in day care: children start day care at diff ages & the time they spend each week varies depending on the working pattern of their parents. It does not make sense to compare child who starts day care at 6 month when maternity leave ends with one who started at age 3 as we are not comparing like with like. the time spend in day care can also be complicated by the length of time which  the child attends, as shown in Campbell study
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assesing the effects of day care: evaluation

  • day care settings vary in quality: as C's study has shown quality is v.important to the overall experience of the child.
  • children have different temperaments & different attachment styles, meaning that some get more out of day care than others
  • Families who use a nursery based care may differ from those who use relatives for childcare Melhuish 1991 has compared the attitudes & choices of 255 women to work & childcare. Those who return to work after maternity leave tend to have higher status jobs & to believe strongly in the importance of maternal employment. Those who use family based care (i.e. relatives) tend to have stronger identities as mothers.
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How has attachment research influenced childcare p

Research into attachments & specifically Bowlby's Theory has suggested that:

  • The child needs to have a secure attachment with an adult
  • The child can have multiple attachments with a range of different adults
  • the child needs to be able to use the attachment figure as a safe bas to explore their environment & to seek security. They should be able to rely on their attachment figure in times of stress or when they are frightened.

Studies have indicated that day care can be stressful experience for a child because it involves separation from the attachment figure & an unfamiliar environment. Steele 2001 found that young children in the SS by Mary Ainsworth have increased levels of cortisol (stress hormone) up to 30 mins after their parents return from a brief separation.

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How has attachment research influenced childcare p

Watamura 2006 compared the levels of cortisol in the same group of babies & toddles on different days of the week as they attended nursery/ stayed home. They found that cortisol levels increased gradually from morning to afternoon when the babies were in the daycare setting but not when they were at home, these increases were greatest in kids 2-3 & worse for toddles who were shy/ fearful.

In order to reduce stress & make day care a positive experience many nurseries have adopted the key worker approach. Golschmied and Jackson 1994. The key worker is named person who acts as their significant adult for each child during their time at nursery. This adult is there to see the needs of the child & for them to use as as their attachment figure in times of stress, notable the beginning of the day when the parents drop off the child & at the collection time when children may be anxious about their parents return. The key worker's job is to be emotionally available to the child & to provide warmth & security to help them settle into the nursery day.

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What consitutes good quality day care?

There is reasonable agreement among researchers about the characteristics of good quality day care. 'Structural' characteristics refer to how day care is organized, which is set out in government policies. Campbell et al 2000 argue that structural characteristics of good quality day care include:

  • A low adult to child ratio to ensure each child can receive plenty of adult attention & stimulation. The recommended ratio varies depending on the age of the child.
  • A small size group: small groups are easier for young children to deal with as there are few strangers
  • A mixed age group of children combining older & younger children research by Clarke-Stewart et al, 1994 notes that social development is improved when children are placed in mixed age groups. This is likely to be because this gives young toddles the opportunity to obverse their older peers' interaction & to copy their social behaviour
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What consitutes good quality day care?

  • Well-trained staff & low staff turnover: this allows children to get to know staff & prevents feelings of insecurity when adults leave. This can be achieved by ensuring the staff are trained & well paid.

Quality can also relate to the child's actual experiences of day care in terms of the emotional environment provided ('process' characteristics) these include:

  • A structured (rather than regimented) day; good quality day care should involve a structure to the day's activities with free time to play, some group time & some structured activities such as drawing. Routines help the child to feel that their environment is predictable & this is an important part of feeling safe.
  • A secure attachment: good quality day care provides children with a stable attachment figure, a person with whom they can feel safe & stable attachment in figure, a person with whom they can feel safe & secure in times of stress. The worker should be responsive & warm to the child. A good way to achieve this is in the in the form of a key worker system. Day care settings that have high staff turnover will be unsettling for the child.
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