A new study has found that kids are less likely to develop behavioural problems if their mums have greater emotional control as well as problem-solving skills.


Researchers say this is because mums with high emotional control tend not to be as verbally harsh with their children. As well, mothers with higher cognitive control are less likely to have controlling parenting attitudes. 


These two parenting qualities - harsh verbal parenting and controlling parenting attitudes - are strongly linked to behavioural issues in kids.


Lead author Ali Crandall, assistant professor of public health at Brigham Young University, told Science Daily, "When you lose control of your life, that impacts how you parent.



"That chaos both directly and indirectly influences your child's behaviour."


Crandall and her fellow researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Virginia Tech analysed data from 152 mums whose children were aged three- to seven-years-old.


The mothers were 21- to 49-years-old, and 62 percent of the participants were married. 


The team assessed the participants' emotional control with a 10-item questionnaire. Mums were asked how often they did things like 'overreact to small problems' or 'have angry outbursts'.



The mothers' cognitive control, also known as executive functioning, was determined through several tasks. Cognitive control involves planning, problem solving, and focusing on the most pertinent task at hand.


After these assessments, mums answered questions that helped identify their parenting attitudes, measure their level of harsh verbal parenting, and determine their kids' amount of behavioural issues (such as fighting or tantrums).


Participants who had higher emotional and cognitive control were not as likely to report child conduct problems, according to the study's findings.


As well, the researchers discovered relationships between a mum's parenting behaviours and control abilities.



The team says their findings suggest helping mums with their emotional and cognitive control in order to reduce child behavioural problems and harsh verbal parenting.


"There are some clear 'signals' that our supply of self control is being run down -- when we are feeling distracted, irritable, and tired," Kirby Deater-Deckard, professor of psychological and brain sciences at UMass-Amherst and study co-author, noted.


Deater-Deckard says that noticing these signals in ourselves is key, as parents can take a moment for themselves, similar to 'time outs' that we give to our kids.


And while improving our problem-solving abilities and other mechanisms of executive functioning can be difficult as adults, simple things like sleeping enough, eating well, and exercising often can boost our cognitive control.