Skip to main content

Time with Children

Body paragraph

How much time do children need with their parents? 

Nationally renowned doctors, pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton and child psychiatrist Stanley I. Greenspan spoke out about their grave concern regarding our nation’s care of children in their book, The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have to Grow, Learn, and Flourish. 

Drawing on their decades of experience in clinical practice, teaching, and research, the doctors addressed the question asked by President Bill Clinton in 1992 at a White House Conference on Infant and Child Development: What types of early experiences are vital for intellectual and emotional growth—and how much of each is necessary?

The doctors say (pgs 9-10):

“In the first three years, every child needs one or two primary caregivers who remain in a steady, intimate relationship with that child.”

“We can’t experience the consistency and intimacy of ongoing love unless we’ve had that experience with someone in our lives. […] This basic feature of caring relationships between a baby and a caregiver who really knows her over the long haul is responsible for a surprisingly large number of vital mental capacities.”

“....we believe that in the first two years of life full-time daycare is a difficult context in which to provide the ongoing, nurturing care by one or a few caregivers that the child requires.”

Read Family and Home Network's full review of The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have to Grow, Learn and Flourish.

* * *

Dr. Elliott Barker, founder of the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said:

 “Given the evidence that permanent emotional damage  -- deficient capacities for trust, empathy and affection -- can be inflicted relatively easily during the very early years of life, CSPCC’s concern is with ignorance of, or indifference to, the emotional needs of very young children.  CSPCC believes that most parents are willing and able to provide their infants and toddlers with the care they have been biologically programmed to need -- when they receive the necessary support.  CSPCC is working toward higher status for parenting, greater support for parents with young children, increased emphasis on trust, empathy and affection in the adult world, and vastly improved preparation for parenthood.”