This study investigated maternal childrearing cognitions associated with ineffective parenting practices, using the Parental Childrearing Cognitions Questionnaire (PCCQ). Intergenerational transmission of parenting problems and cognitions was investigated using the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI), which measures over-protectiveness and care experienced by parents in childhood. As a new measure, the PCCQ's psychometric properties were evaluated and found to be robust in terms of internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Seventy-four mothers of 3-5-year-old boys (23 clinical: boys referred with conduct problems; 51 control) completed the PCCQ, Revised Rutter Parent Scale for Preschool Children and PBI. PCCQ scores were significantly higher for clinical group mothers, and significantly correlated with both Parent and Teacher Rutter Child problem scores. There were significant correlations between PBI overprotection (positive) and PBI care (negative) scores and Rutter Parent and PCCQ scores. Clinical group mothers rated lower care and higher overprotection, from both parents, in their own childhoods. Results are consistent with a hypothesized model of intergenerational transmission of parenting problems, whereby experiences of low care and high overprotection in childhood predispose mothers to a dysfunctional 'set' of parenting cognitions, impairing maternal capacity to provide sensitive responses to challenging child behaviours.