Eight out of ten parents think smacking is neither useful nor effective, according to a report released yesterday. Instead, most parents believe the best disciplinary technique for badly behaved toddlers is to ignore them.

Raising the voice or shouting is the next most effective action, according to the briefing, published by the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh.

Fewer than 20 per cent thought smacking was useful when caring for three-year-olds and the proportion was lower for younger children. Raising the voice or shouting was seen as a useful technique by about a third of main carers and more than 40 per cent of their partners.

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