Traditional attachment research told us about the implications of day-care and how it might affect children.
Hodges and Tizard (1989) carried out a natural longitudal study, to investigate the effect of institutional upbringing on later attachments. They concluded from their study, that Bowlby was correct to emphasise the importance of the early years. Indeed, loving relationships and high quality care are necessary to reverse privation effects. They encourage children to form attachments to key workers.This suggests a low adult to child ratio to ensure each child can receive plenty of adult attention and stimulation (according to Campbell et al). The recommended ratio depends on the age of the child. As the younger children need more care, they should have more carers. Once children have formed their first attachment, they are likely to respond to separation from their attachment figure with a behaviour pattern, often referred to as P.
D. D. The child will protest angrily, which will turn to despair (refusing comfort attempts) and detachment (anger towards caregiver).Therefore shorter days are better. The NICHD study (1991) screened over 1000 American children from families with very different backgrounds in a longitudinal study. At age 5, the study found that the more time a child spent in day care – no matter what kind or quality of day care – the more they were rated as disobedient and aggressive. Children in full time day care were almost three times more likely to show behavioural problems, than those cared for at home – behaviour problems, included temper tantrums, lying and hitting.
Belsky (2007) analysed data from the study as children neared the end of their primary education, he still found a link between day care and increased aggressiveness. Therefore, the study found that there was a positive correlation between time spent in day care and amount of aggressive behaviour, suggesting they are linked. A contradictory study to this however, is Shea et al. (1981) who videoed 3 and 4 year old children at playtime during their first 10 weeks at nursery school.
It was found that children became more sociable the longer they were at nursery and the amount of aggressive behaviour towards one another decreased. These changes were greater in children attending for 5 days a week, compared to those attending for just two days a week. This suggests that day care can increase sociability and decrease aggressive behaviour. The fact that aggression reduced more in children attending for 5 days a week rather than 2 days a eek, suggests that it was the day care that caused this affect rather than just the children maturing.
However, a correlation doesn’t necessarily show that day care caused aggression – there may be an unknown factor (extraneous variable) which affected the sets of data. Children differ in terms of age of entry into day care, along with the number of hours spent in day care. Belsky (2006) suggested that over 20 hours or more spent in day care before aged one will lead to insecure attachments.Also, cross cultural variation can lead to a difference in results, such as Van Izjendoorn and Kroonenberg (1988) found there was a more avoidant attachment type in Western countries. They also found that there can be differences within cultures.
The children could also have had a past history in separations, resulting in their attachments being disrupted and aggressive behaviours beginning to develop. This shows that we cannot base day care as the sole cause of aggression.