The myth that being a busy, working mum harms your children is not true according to new research.

Experts found young children whose mothers do not have a job are not as good at four key skills of talking, socialising, movement and everyday tasks. While children of more highly educated mums are more capable in all four areas.

However the advice about not putting off starting a family too long may be one to consider as the study also found being an older mother has a negative effect on all four skills.

And having more than one child is good as toddlers with more siblings have better skills in all four areas, despite their parent having less time to interact with them.

Researchers from London School Of Economics And Political Science (LSE) and the University of Oxford studied children aged two and three to learn the factors that effect their development.

Whether you are a working or stay-at-home mum it is important to make time for bedtime stories, singing them songs and play dates with other children, which can all help their speech development. Songs with actions are particularly good as they improve movement skills, as do arts and crafts.

However you don’t need to feel guilty about sending them of to nursery as it is associated with better social skills, while spending more hours being cared for by grandparents makes children more verbal and sociable.

If you want to make your little ones smile, reading and shopping are the activities found to make them happiest.

Surprisingly a simple walks outdoors is negatively associated with movement skills, but this may be because children spend long periods sitting in a buggy, said researchers.

The paper, The development and happiness of very young children, by Professor Paul Anand of LSE, the Open University and Columbia University, and Dr Laurence Roope of the University of Oxford is published in the journal Social Choice and Welfare.

Professor Anand said: “We are delighted that one of first economic studies to look at the behaviour of very young children comes out with positive messages about activity involvement with parents, and shows that different activities promote different skills.”

The paper concludes: “Material affluence is only one of a number of factors important for the development of very young children. More interactive activities between child and carer appear related to the development of both cognitive and non-cognitive capacities – and to child happiness. The finding is plausible and suggests that active parenting plays an important role in child development.”

Follow The Wharf on Twitter @the_wharf

Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook