Parents are creating a generation of yobs by failing to teach children good manners at a young age, researchers warn today.

Infants are “naturally” aggressive and must be taught to control their emotions, it is claimed.

Academics say busy families who do not spend enough time curbing bad tempered three- and four-year-olds risk fuelling serious behavioural problems in later life, including drug abuse and violent crime.

Mothers who smoke during pregnancy and parents on low incomes are more likely to find their children become aggressive, the scientists say. The findings — in a study by Richard Tremblay, professor of paediatrics at Montreal University — will be presented at a conference in London today.

They follow the publication of a Government-backed report that found toddlers left in a nursery for more than three hours a week were more likely to develop anti-social behaviour.

Speaking before the conference at the Royal Society, Prof Tremblay said: “Physical aggression in children is a major public problem. It is not only an indicator of aggression in adulthood but it also leads to other serious behavioural problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, violent crimes and continues the cycle of abusive parenting.

“Identifying the factors which stop children becoming well socialised adults should help us design preventative measures. These should put an appropriate emphasis on the behaviour of the parents.”

In today’s research, scientists claim young children do not learn to be badly behaved. Instead, infants are naturally more physically aggressive and must be taught how to control their behaviour.

Children’s ability to shake off violent tendencies is dependent on “both genetic and environmental factors”, with some parents better at teaching youngsters how to be well-mannered and communicate properly.

The findings will fuel the debate over childhood, with academics saying that the amount of time parents spend with children has a dramatic impact on their ability to develop.

Critics say the rising influence of addictive video games and television and a decline in outdoor play has damaged young children.

A Government analysis of 800 toddlers at 100 nurseries found those spending all day separated from parents were more likely to be bossy, disruptive, attention-seekers and even bullies.

Ministers want more mothers and fathers to be given classes to ensure they bring children up properly.

Source:, United Kingdom