Should parents feel guilty for sending their children to nursery?

The debate returns after a psychologist claims that toddlers get stressed at daycare, so what's the real story...

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September means the start of nursery (or school) for most mums up and down the country. But one psychologist, Aric Sigman, has claimed that toddlers who spend long periods being cared for by strangers, at nursery, can raise their stress levels. The high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) have apparently been linked to health problems such as coughs and colds and even to heart disease in later life, reports the Daily Mail.

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However, Dr Stuart Derbyshire, a psychologist at the Univeristy of Birmingham, commented that these higher levels of cortisol could actually be down to the fact that toddlers run around more at nursery, than they would if they were at home.

Aric’s controversial point of view has further fuelled the long-running debate over just how much attention a mum needs to give her child and whether staying at home with your child is better than going out to work and leaving your child in good childcare.

“Babies need to be with people they are attached to well beyond nine months. The first two or three years are the crucial window when various systems which manage emotions are put into place,” says psychotherapist Sue Gerhardt. “In particular, it’s when we learn to exercise self-control and to be aware of other people’s needs. Without these basic emotional skills children may not grow up emotionally competent.”

However, other researchers dispute these views claiming that good childcare can be beneficial for a child’s development.

It seems, as ever, that mums and dads can’t win. Academics at a conference at the University of Kent earlier this week, argued that mums are subjected to a large amount of pressure in order to “get things right” when it comes to looking after their children, according to the Guardian.

These academics say that there has been an over-hyping of the importance of parental connection in a baby’s first few years of life, and that it doesn’t have to be the parent who helps a child develop.

What do you think?

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