Mothers who angrily tell off their children when they step out of line may be making behaviour problems worse, according to research.
A study by the London School of Economics found that excessive shouting and meting out hard-line punishments was counterproductive.
Ignoring naughty children also appeared to lead to deterioration in discipline standards, it was claimed.
Researchers said that “reasoning with children” was more likely to have a positive impact on their behaviour at a young age.
But the study – presented at the Royal Economic Society's annual conference this week – warned that it was difficult to establish a direct link between one parenting style and outcomes because of the influence of other factors such social class.
Wealthier parents are more likely to reason with their child but also more likely to provide healthy meals, structured bedtimes and frequent physical activities which have a knock-on effect on children's wellbeing, it said.
The study suggested that children in poor households were “more affected by their mother's parenting style” than in wealthier families.
The disclosure will add to growing concerns over the prevalence of poor parenting skills in large numbers of British families.
The study was based on an analysis of almost 19,000 children born in the first two years of the millennium. Data was collected from parents just before children's first birthday then when they turned three, five and seven.