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She told BBC Radio Four's Today programme: "I would argue that using the word naughty is the problem."It's fine to be firm and consistent but you call that a naughty step and the child actually calls himself or herself naughty.
Parents should say: "What you have done is very naughty, I don't like the way you behaved" but not that 'you are naughty'."It's a very different message and very bad for a child's self confidence and self esteem," she said.This can reinforce negative feelings and lead to more bad behaviour.When asked whether she had ever shouted at a child, Mrs Mountford, who has two grown-up daughters, said: "Yes, of course I have, I'm human.But golly you feel awful afterwards."I'm interested in the parents' mental health.Parents should not call their youngsters 'naughty' because it damages their self-confidence, a childcare expert controversially claimed.Annette Mountford, chief executive of the parenting organisation, Family Links, said that children's self-esteem is run down by such branding, even if they are behaving badly.
Parents must not shout at their youngsters and should only call their behaviour naughty, rather than saying they are naughty themselves.
They should also stop referring to the "naughty step" - a disciplining technique from TV's Supernanny - in case their child thinks the word refers to them.
She said misusing the word can affect the "mental health" of both the child and the subsequently guilt-ridden parent.
But other family groups yesterday condemned the demands from the head of the charity, which receives funding from the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health.
They argued that families need to be able to discipline their children without being subjected to politically correct "clap trap".
Mrs Mountford spoke out after a National Family and Parenting Institute survey found that more than eight out of ten parents who watch TV programmes like Supernanny have found a technique such as the 'naughty step' helpful.