Throwing your hands up in exasperation over a naughty son's behavior? The solution, an Aussie study says, isn't in yelling your throat dead to make him behave.
The researchers found that misbehaving boys responded better when parents reasoned with them gently, and were less likely to behave if their parents were hostile.
On the other hand, girls responded to either style and their conduct problems were more strongly linked to socio-demographic factors.
For the study, Helene Shin from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs studied children aged 4-7 from the Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.
She looked at "inductive reasoning", where parents talk with children about their behaviour to help them understand the effect on others.
One of its main aims is to correct children's behaviour.
The study took into account whether the manner in which inductive reasoning was delivered made any difference, and whether other variables affected children's conduct.
It found significant differences in how girls and boys responded.
"For boys, the effect of inductive reasoning interacted with the level of parental hostility towards children," the Courier Mail quoted the authors of the study as saying.
"When parents reasoned with boys with low levels of hostility, conduct problems among boys significantly lowered than when parents communicated inductive reasoning in a hostile way.
"This interaction effect was not found among girls. Rather, socio-demographic factors explained girls' conduct problems better," they added.
The parent's self-belief was also a factor in the response of girls and boys.
The findings could have implications for training programs that identify the best parenting methods.
"This research demonstrates that inductive reasoning is useful in reducing boys' behavioural problems when it is communicated in a non-hostile way. Therefore, these programs should acknowledge the importance of nurturing the boys' emotional needs when disciplining them," it found.
The study will be presented at the Australian Institute of Family Studies conference in Melbourne.