The Effects of Day Care on the Social-Emotional Development of Children

by Jenet Jacob Erickson, Ph.D.

This report reviews findings from the 30-year body of research evaluating the effects of non-maternal child care (day care) on children’s social-emotional development.

Talking Points

  • Children who spend longer hours (30 hours/week) in day care are more likely to exhibit problematic social behaviors including aggression, conflict, poorer work habits and risk-taking behaviors throughout childhood and into adolescence.
  • The negative effects of day care are more persistent for children who spend long hours in center-care settings.
  • Although high quality day care has some positive effects, it does not reduce the negative effects associated with long hours in day care.
  • Mothers whose children spend long hours in day care show a decrease in sensitivity in their interactions with their child during their child’s early years.