Aggressive parenting style may be the cause or effect of sleep disorders in young children, according to a pediatrician from Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital.
Harriet Hiscock analysed data from 4600 families to study the impact of parenting methods on the sleep behaviour of children between the ages of one and three.
The study found children were nearly twice as likely to have sleep problems that continued through the toddler years if their mother used 'hostile' parenting methods—characterised by yelling or physical punishment such as smacking, rather than being warm and gentle with the baby.
Dr. Hiscock's research has opened a debate because it is not clear whether the sleep problems are caused by the mothers' rough handling of the babies or if the tired mothers have resorted to yelling at their sleep-deprived, cranky children.
"It's always a cause-and-effect argument and you can't really conclude from this which one occurs first," Dr Hiscock said.
Dr. Hiscock found that persistent sleep problems reflected on a child's health.
According to the study, babies and toddlers who have chronic health problems such as asthma or autism were "more than three times more likely to suffer sleep problems than healthy children."
The data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children found that 75 per cent of the young children studied had no sleep issues.