Fewer than four in 10 children between the ages of two and five are looked after by their parents during the day, a survey has found. While at work, 17 per cent of parents left their children in the care of domestic helpers, 18.2 per cent left them with grandparents and 20 per cent with other people. Only about 39 per cent looked after the youngsters themselves. The study, conducted by the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong, examined the pressures on parents with young children. Questionnaires were sent to nurseries and kindergartens between September and October last year. Of the 1,059 parents interviewed, 78 per cent said they had less than three hours of spare time a day. A fifth had less than an hour. More than half said they faced great pressure bringing up their children. Yeung Sau-ying, the association's family life education officer, said that while parents attached primary importance to the health of their children, 'about half of respondents felt a great deal of pressure from expectations over the academic performance of their children and choice of schools'. More than 52 per cent said they suffered from at least three stress-related symptoms, including migraine, mood swings and insomnia. Association executive secretary Chan Wing-kin, a registered social worker, said the findings were alarming. 'When someone shows three or more stress-related symptoms, we consider the condition rather serious,' he said, adding that there was statistical evidence that the number of symptoms had a direct correlation with the degree of pressure the respondents suffered. As for family rows, more than 60 per cent of respondents clashed with their spouses over the way their children should be brought up, 34.9 per cent with their parents and 36.1 per cent with their parents-in-law. Mr Chan said the source of much of the conflict with the older generation was different perspectives on upbringing. 'Social service providers should help parents understand the different methods people use in taking care of children,' he said. Housewife Margaret Leung Tse Lai-kuen said she had been experiencing a lot of stress since her son was born six years ago. 'It seems to increase day after day. Now I feel as if the only reason for my existence is to provide for him,' she said. While the main cause for concern used to be her son's health, Mrs Leung's worries had extended to his social skills and academic results. 'And I have to be careful about my own behaviour, so as not to set a bad example for him,' she said. Mrs Leung said she relieved her stress by sharing her experiences with other parents and social workers. But she felt that support for parents was inadequate. 'While a lot of social service providers target youngsters and the elderly, there seems to be little support for parents,' she said.