Using “time outs” to discipline children is not going to harm them or your relationship with them, US research suggests.

Despite criticism of the “naughty step” strategy, children’s anxiety did not increase and neither did their aggressive behaviour, the eight-year study of families found.

But a UK psychologist said the key was how the technique was used.

And not all children responded to authoritarian forms of discipline.

The study, by the University of Michigan, tracked almost 1,400 families and their parenting strategies at three, five and 10 years old.

The researchers measured children’s positivity and negativity to parents, and their mental health and social skills – using games, observations and video-taped interactions.

At three years old, a third of the parents gave the child “time out” or told them to sit

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