New research linking childcare centres to bad behaviour in kids has sparked ANOTHER online debate between parents nationally.

A major national study of more than 3,200 children has found that the length of time a child spends at a childcare centre in the first three years of life is associated with a particular set of problem behaviours by ages 4-5 years.

The study, conducted by researchers in the University of Adelaide’s School of Population Health, found that children who spend longer in centre-based childcare are more likely to be hyperactive, disruptive and aggressive at school age.

“One of our key findings was that time spent at a formal childcare centre was directly associated with small but noticeable increases in what we call ‘externalising’ problem behaviours, compared to children who did not attend any type of childcare in the first three years of life. This includes hyperactivity – being restless, easily distracted, constantly fidgeting – and disruptive and aggressive behaviours, such as losing their temper and fighting with other children.”

However, Ms Gialamas says the same group of children was less likely to show ‘internalising’ problem behaviours than children who didn’t attend childcare. “Our study showed that children in centre-based care were less likely to be unhappy and clingy in new situations, according to parent and teacher reports,” she says. “So there are both positive and negative effects seen among this group of children.”

Let’s read that again “… there are both positive and negative effects seen among this group of children.” So, a bit like all the various home environments that children are raised in?

Home schooling – positive and negative effects

Attachment parenting – positive and negative effects

Private education – positive and negative effects

Live-in nanny – positive and negative effects

You get the point.

The undeniable truth is that child care centres are an absolute necessity in our society today. In a time of smaller family units, ageing grandparents and a high standard cost of living, parents who are working out of the home must send their children somewhere to be cared for. They are not sending them to sweatshops or squalid half-way houses to be mistreated by evil villains. They are choosing the best childcare centre for their needs available to them. Many put their children on wait-lists that are years long to ensure that they have a place in the centre they researched to be the most appropriate. And guess what else? These childcare centres are staffed by trained childcare professionals. People who have deliberately chosen to study for a career in caring for children. So far, that all sounds vaguely like responsible parenting.

Of course, regularly outsourcing your child’s care to others is not everyone’s cup of tea. The parents who have chosen NOT to send their children to childcare have also made their responsible parenting decision based on their own research, needs and resources.

But who’s right? Who is the better parent?

Here it is. The answer.


Let’s go back to the most important finding from the study on childcare centres. “there are both positive and negative effects…”

This is our take on the whole debate. If you have made your decision to either use external care for your child or not based on the safety, wellbeing and general intention for a positive parenting outcome then you’re doing the right thing.

How about we all stop the mum shaming?

You’re a good mum. So am I. Did we make the same decisions? Probably not. Did we make them for the right reasons? Probably so.

And that, is probably all that matters.


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  1. Omg. We can’t do anything right these days. Send them to care so we can work to make our money, pay tax to contribute to our economy and be charged huge amounts of money for that care anyway.centre based care is amazing for my child. Independent strong happy child who is social and has many little friends. She doesn’t fight, never bitten (has been bitten) typical 3 yr old. I would never have been able to teach her everything she knows now and very happy with her center

  2. I am glad this article went the way it did, the title was very offensive! although it did get me to read your article. I also disagree with the social implications of 4-5 year olds. Long story short, I agree stop judging. 🙂

  3. Some are staffed by ex-teachers too. If you don’t have access to family, friends or neighbours with children with which yours can interact, at what age suggest they are placed in a group to learn to do so. Besides children can learn bad habits from adults too, sometimes including their own parents. Some little ones enjoy childcare and miss it when it is closed for holidays etc. I know of one only child(through no fault of the Mum) who went to childcare part time. She loved the other children and the ladies who cared for her, and would sometimes ask when she was going again. Behaviour was never an issue. Some Mums return to work to give their children better opportunities in life – plenty of nourishing food which is not cheap, a safe environment in which to live, public education is not cheap. Private Health is expensive but at least your little one won’t wait 12 months or more for tonsil removal even though the problem is continuous. I know one little girl who got it every time she got a new tooth. It was classed as elective surgery, so even though she had been ill enough to he admitted to hospital on a few occasions close together she still had to wait. She also got ear infections at the same time. She would cry during the night and not re-settle, her Mum would pick her up and there would be yellowish goo all over her pillow. From what I have observed children are more likely to become aggressive after they start school, are in bigger groups and have much less supervision out of the classroom.

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