Effects of Early Child Care Extend to Age 15 Years

Recent research from NIH suggests that your parenting influences on your infant will last well into his or her adolescence.

The transition from childhood to adolescence involves substantial changes in multiple features of children’s lives, which raises fundamental questions about the importance of early experience as an influence on adolescent development. Adolescence is defined by physical and cognitive changes (Kuhn, 2009; Susman & Dorn, 2009) as well as transformations in parent-child and peer relationships and schooling (Eccles & Roeser, 2009). With these myriad changes, there is reason to wonder whether effects of early child care experiences persist into adolescence. This is the central issue addressed in this report. Specifically, we ask if nonrelative child care during the first 4½ years of life predicts academic achievement and behavioral adjustment at age 15. Then, we consider developmental processes that may mediate these associations. Finally, we ask if links between early child care and adolescent outcomes are moderated by child gender or familial risk.

The work to be reported is based on a large, nonexperimental field study—the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (NICHD SECCYD)—which affords estimation of statistical rather than causal effects. When causal language (e.g., effect, influence) is employed in this report, it is for heuristic purposes.

So here are a few parenting tips to ensure that your child receives your unconditional love and commitment, and grows into a wonderful human being.

1. Verbalize the importance of integrity, trustworthiness, and moral courage in everyday life.
2. Demonstrate consistent respect through polite and tolerant actions and  deeds and expect that respect will be reciprocated.
3. Teach responsibility by expecting each family member to complete chores, follow rules, and exercise self-control.
4. Promote the feelings of self-worth by expressing appreciation for each family member’s unique qualities and administering fair and impartial affection and treatment.
5. Model the character values of consideration, compassion, empathy, and unconditional love.
6. Teach good citizenship by demonstrating family, community, and national pride and showing respect for societal rules and customs.