Aug 6, 2012

Is It Okay To Leave Your Child With Someone They Don't Know?

Category: Toddlers
Posted By: Keisha

Question: Hi, I would like to know if forcing a child under 2 years old to stay with some one that they don't like or see too often is good for the child or not? Thanks, Keisha

Answer: Hi Keisha, thanks for your question.  You haven’t given a lot of information so I’m not sure quite who it is that the child is being forced to stay with.  What I can tell you is that between the ages of 1 and 2 years children are developing a very strong attachment system.  This is an important survival mechanism which ties them closely to few key attachment figures who are well known and trusted to keep them safe.  Toddlers will cling to these people, especially in strange or unfamiliar surroundings or circumstances where they are more likely to need reassurance.

If you want a toddler to stay happily with someone then they need to be gradually introduced to this person, while in the company of someone they feel safe with until they come to feel safe with the new person and can be left without distress.

If toddlers are left with someone that they do not know, do not like, or do not feel comfortable with then they will become distressed and frightened.  This will elevate their cortisol levels (a stress hormone).  I don’t know of any specific studies on children who are left with people they are not comfortable with, but there are many studies which look at the long-term effects of raised cortisol levels.  These all show significant and long-term difficulties with behaviour and the ability to cope with stress.

I hope that is of help,


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