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28.2.08

Daycare Leads To Behavior Problems?!

Our daughter Jessica will be 4 next month. She is a big girl, measuring between 43-44 inches, about 55lbs, and her ped thinks she is on a growth track to reach 6 foot or more. Her Dad is 6'6" and I am 5'9". We are both overweight, but live active lives. We tried for over 6 1/2 yrs to have her. Once we did, I stayed home for 15 months before returning to work part-time (7pm-11pm) 5 evenings a week. I went to full-time when she was 2 yrs 8 months. I am a nurse, Dad is an electrician. She has always been active. Always. Everything she did as an infant she did faster than everyone thought she would.

Rolling over early, crawling at 5 months, standing at 6 months, walking holding on, and walking without holding on at 8 months. At about 4 months she was rolling on the floor room to room when I would be around the house. Always on the go. She had breast milk for 27 months. We give her organic skim milk. Her cereals are kix, chex, crispix, chee! rios. She drinks about 24-30 oz of milk a day, and then about another 24 ox of water. Only milk or water. I do try to give her 4 oz of juice a day. She is very picky. SHe will eat a banana maybe once a month. Veggies, I hide them in foods. Otherwise she will eat corn on the cob or green beans on occassion. She eats a lot of meat. Her diet is probably 60-70% meat. She eats lean meats, rice, noodles, etc. She does have a weakness for sweets, her favorite being Reese's cups, and we try to limit it to one or two a week. She went into pre-school at Goddard for a couple of mornings a week. Gaining a new job starting earlier than they opened, I put her in home daycare where she has been for a year. I can carry her sleeping from the truck there, into a bed in a quit room where she will sleep until she wakes. SHe gave up her naps at age 2 1/2 right after she started at Goddard. She went into home daycare when she was 35 months old. She seemed to be ok there. The ho! me daycare had all kids her age and one baby. That fall a child started kindergarten and the home provider got a new 6 week old baby. That seemed to be when a lot of trouble started. The provider was on so many different schedules (6 kids), and I don't know if that threw her off or Jessica was having issues because of the new baby.

Jessica will come home and tell me of little things that happened (whether they are truth or not, I do not always know). One hit her, so she hit him back, the baby pulled her hair, another child would not let her use the computer games, etc. I kind of blew it off, the kids are together and like siblings. Fast forward to now. The provider tells me Jessica is becoming more defiant. She has always had problems (I wasn't aware of all these problems), and she is "losing her grip" with her. She says she talks to her, but she sticks out her tongue, and crosses her arms and says no. She will try to hit her if she walks her into timeout. The provider says she doesn't have the time like she used to talk with her. I asked if she was suggesting I find someone new, and she said while she would not stop watching her right now, she could not continue to put up with the increasing behavior. Her father and I work opposite shifts. We are home together usually 2 evenings a week and weekend mornings. He is more permissive, but she knows she needs to listen to me or she will go in time out. When we are together, I think she is confused, because I will give her more consequences and he doesn't, and she is unsure. He and I have spoken of this many times, but not sure where to go, as he doesn't see himself as more permissive. At home, generally she listens. She will voice her complaint when she doesn't like something, and say no, but I give her choices and that way she has some control. I ask her to do or not to do something and if she is resistant, remind her of the consequences and it usually works. I have spanked her on occassion, this is when she has not listened to talking, time out has not worked, and she will not sit in time out. We use counting before timeout as well.

Spanking for me is one smack of one hand on the butt. It occurs less than weekly. I do not like spanking her, but once I have went through talking, redirecting, 1:1, taking away privleges and time out won't work, I feel thats the last ultimatum. She doesn't sleep like other kids. She will sleep generally 10-11 hours a night and no naps. Unless we are in the car. I want to sleep in a car if I am not driving as well. We use a fan for white noise in our room and hers, we have done it for years, and we all sleep better. So here we are now. What do I do? Consult her pediatrician? Take her to a counselor? A psychiatrist? A psychologist?

Her father and I have mild depression managed by zoloft. My family history includes depression and addictive behaviors (alcohol, cigarettes, illicit drugs). Dad's family has cigarettes. NO history of ADHD or any other disorders in our families that we are aware of. Should I keep her there and begin to manage this and get her checked, switch her to something else? My husband thinks she would do better in a more structured environment like a daycare center, where I like the home environment so she can continue sleeping in the morning.

She is more of a night owl, likes to sleep 10pm-8am. But when I work my other job which is 4 months a year (leading into a full time teaching position in 2 1/2 yrs), I have to wake her at 530 am. Family is not available, nor friends to watch her to not disturb her. I cannot quit the 2nd job. She is so free spirited, creative, likes to be very physical. Very much a tomboy. She can sit for activities. She talks alot, very loving, empathetic,. caring, shares, etc. Normally, except for the 4 months a year, she goes to home daycare from 230-430pm 2-4 days a week. Otherwise with my husband or me. 4 months a year (like now) she goes to home daycare 2-3 days a week, and the other 1-2 days my mother in law (an hour away) will try to watch her. I am not sure where to turn, what to do? We have good insurance, BC/BS of PA, I think it covers a lot of mental health, but I don't know who to seek out. I have called the pediatrician to make an appointment, for her 4 yr check up, but haven't gotten a call back yet. She seems very smart, she looks like a 5-6 yr old, and is still 3 at this point.

Oh....hom daycare. When I drop her off at 230 each day. The home daycare provider has her sit and be quit and watch a movie each day while the younger kids are sleeping. She has a problem with it and she says she acts up and doesn't listen. IS this not a good fit for her? She cannot run around and play because the other children are napping, and some out of the bedrooms, and she has woken them in the past. Is it unreasonable, that she should be allowed to play quietly, or should I accept that she is supposed to lie on the floor with a blanket and pillow and watch a video for an hour. For Jessica, I am wondering if thats more like an hour of time out restricting her movement, play, and talking? I am unable to change my work hours. The provider is complaining and the other parents are complaining. The provider says she pulls hair (learned from the baby pulling her hair), sticks out her tongue (started after she went to home daycare), and hits and tells her no. At home she will tell us no, but she has never done any of the other behaviors. The provider wants to start giving us a daily report card of her behavior. Please advise. We are located in Delaware in 19720. If you have any recommendations or referrals for our area.

I wouldn't be against medications, if behavior modification and counselling don't work. However as a nurse and parent who has seen many children with Asperger's, ADHD, turn from active children into "zombies" with "blank stares", I do not want to turn her into that either. I am also fearful of stunting her growth in anyway.

Thank you for taking the time, and for your consideration in reading this. Any and all suggestions, comments, etc, would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Christina and Allen

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Hi Christina and Allen,

There are multiple issues here, but it is our view, considering all the information that you have provided, that the main issue may revolve around daycare. Criticism of daycare is very unpopular. But we should discuss the ramifications associated with placing a child in such an environment on a daily basis.

With findings that are bound to rekindle the debate over its effects on children, two studies build on evidence that those who spend long hours in child care may experience more stress and are at increased risk of becoming overly aggressive and developing other behavior problems.

One of the studies found that the more time children spent in child care, the more likely they were to be disobedient and have trouble getting along with others, though it suggested that factors like a mother's sensitivity to the child's needs could moderate that outcome.

This report is from the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, the largest long-term study of child care in the United States, which was undertaken by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a branch of the National Institutes of Health. The findings elaborate on preliminary research that created a storm of debate when presented by the study's investigators at a child development meeting two years ago.

The other study found that in children younger than 3, levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, rose in the afternoon during full days they spent in day care, but fell as the hours passed on days they spent at home. This study's researchers, from the Institute of Child Development of the University of Minnesota, had earlier found the same pattern in 3- and 4-year-olds.

Cortisol levels in the saliva of day care children were highest and rose most steeply in those judged by day care center personnel to be the shyest. ''These children struggle in group situations and find them stressful,'' said the study's lead author, Dr. Megan R. Gunnar.

Dr. Gunnar said that while none of the cortisol levels measured were high enough to be considered signs of psychological trauma, they were nonetheless a cause for concern.

In a measure of how sensitive the topic of child care has become, the studies, appearing in the journal Child Development, are accompanied by nine commentaries from researchers around the world that put the findings into perspective and, in some cases, rebut them. The editors of the journal delayed publication of the studies for several months while they circulated the manuscripts to more than 1,000 child development experts and invited them to write commentaries.

''I think it was worth holding up publication of the research so that we could put it in context,'' said Dr. Lynn S. Liben, editor in chief of Child Development. ''Child care is a controversial issue.''

Unlike the University of Minnesota research, which dealt only with children in day care, the study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development followed more than 1,000 children in 10 cities who were in the full range of child care arrangements, including day care centers, preschools, care with nannies and care with relatives other than their mothers. The children's behavior was evaluated by their mothers, caregivers and kindergarten teachers.

The study, which began in 1991, found that the more hours the children spent in child care, the higher the incidence of problem behavior and the greater its severity.

Over all, about 17 percent of the children had above-average levels of problem behavior like disobedience and over-assertiveness. Though their behavior fell within normal limits, children exhibiting such traits would be at risk of developing behavioral abnormalities, said the study's scientific coordinator, Dr. Sarah L. Friedman.

Most of the children in the study spent 10 or more hours a week in child care, and 10 percent spent more than 45 hours a week there. The correlation between quantity of child care and behavior problems remained even when other variables were taken into account, including the quality and type of the child care, the mother's sensitivity to her child's needs and the family's socioeconomic status. Indeed, the study found that the time spent in child care was linked more strongly with children's behavior than was the quality of care.

But while none of those variables entirely offset the negative effects that the study found, the mother's sensitivity and the family's socioeconomic status had a greater influence on children's behavior than did the amount of time spent in child care. Greater maternal sensitivity and higher level of family income and education correlated with better behavior in the children, the study found.

The commentaries published along with the two studies elaborated on some of the findings and challenged others. Susan C. Crockenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Vermont, cited other research concluding that boys were more vulnerable than girls to negative effects of child care.

A few of the commentators argued that contrary to the findings of the National Institute study, the quality of child care mattered a great deal in fostering young children's social and emotional development. A commentary by several researchers led by John M. Love, a senior fellow at Mathematica Policy Research of Princeton, N.J., noted that the more time that infants and toddlers spent in Head Start programs, considered to be of high quality, the fewer their behavior problems and the greater their intellectual and language development.

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