A new report by the Department of Education has revealed that parents with poor parenting skills are twice as likely to raise misbehaving children, identifying a link between negativity and antisocial behavior.
Research shows that "harsh and inconsistent" discipline in the home is breeding a generation of young children with anger management problems, poor attention spans and low levels of literacy, writes Graeme Paton at the Telegraph.
This link between antisocial behavior and parenting skills "remained true even after a range of socioeconomic factors were taken into account", says the report. This suggests that middle-class children are just as likely to "go off the rails" as poor children, if subjected to poor parenting.
The study said:
"Across a range of measures, an association was consistently found between negative parenting and child anti-social behavior.
"The association between negative parenting and child anti-social behavior still held after controlling for demographic factors including ethnicity, parental education and being a single-parent family."
The Department of Education study called "How is parenting style related to child anti-social behavior?" examined 278 families with children aged four-to-seven living in inner-city areas.
The report recommends "positive parenting" programs that give mothers and fathers a grounding in how to bring up their children properly using the consistent use of praise and rewards and a high level of involvement with children's everyday life.
The report identified negative parenting as a failure to adequately supervise children, inconsistent approaches to discipline and the use of smacking and other physical punishments, writes Paton.
"Since the study has confirmed the link between negative parenting and child antisocial behavior in England today, the implications are that it is appropriate to offer parents parenting programs that have been shown to reduce coercive parenting practices, improve positive parenting, and reduce child antisocial behavior.
"Similar processes operate with younger children from age two onwards, for whom parenting help would also be beneficial."