Studies show that frequent outpatient care can affect children’s behavior


A survey of about 1,300 Zurich school children, their parents and teachers suggested that the more time children spend in outdoor daily care, the more they exhibit problematic behavior. However, this behavior usually disappears at the end of elementary school. The study was published in the journal PLoS One.

About 67 percent of children surveyed received outpatient care before entering kindergarten. Of these, 32 per cent attend children’s daycare center and 22 per cent attend playgroup. Another 22 percent received care from an outside family member, 3 percent from acquaintances or neighbors, and 12 percent from daycare mothers.

The researchers asked children as well as their parents and teachers about behavioral problems, guilt, and making substance use external or internal. Surveys show that the behavior observed in primary school age children differs depending on the type of respondents and external daily care. According to parents, elementary school students were more likely to experience aggression, ADHD symptoms and experience anxiety and depression than those who spent time in the daycare center before entering school.

This finding was also supported by some of the children’s own assessments. According to teachers, hyperactivity, lack of impulse control, carelessness, or aggression are more common in school children who spend more than two days a week with a caring mother or at least three days a week in a playgroup. How can these findings be explained? “It is possible that external childcare may reduce the power of child-parent attachment and interaction,” said first author Margit Everdijk.

But it is also possible that children in center-based care or playgroups learn problem behaviors from their peers and sometimes use them to distract caregivers. The researcher explained, “Although we cannot directly verify which of these methods is the most probable explanation for our results, they both support our findings.” The good news is that problematic behaviors in primary school-age children are declining. Children grow up and mostly disappear by the age of 13.

Symptoms of ADHD were the only symptoms that persisted into adolescence. Furthermore, researchers have found no evidence that generally associates external child care settings with juvenile delinquency and substance use. The exception was the link between the presence of daily care and substance use, which continues into young adulthood for people with a sensitive background.

“Our study suggests that these children experience anxiety or frustration as they get older, which can be exacerbated as a result of parental absence,” Evardijk explained. Childcare and the subsequent development of children, “said the last author, Manuel Eisner.

However, the professor of sociology urges not to go to the conclusion. He added that while the study meets the highest scientific standards, it is based on observational data and surveys that do not always allow for clear conclusions about causation. Furthermore, the study was not able to take into account the quality of child care received outside the family.

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