Teenagers less likely to respond to mothers with controlling tone of voice

Teenagers are less likely to cooperate and put effort into their mother’s requests when they are said in a controlling tone of voice, researchers have found.

Speaking to a son or daughter in a pressurising tone is also accompanied by a range of negative emotions and less feelings of closeness, a new study has discovered.

The new experimental study involving over 1000 adolescents aged 14-15 is the first to examine how subjects respond to the tone of voice when receiving instructions from their mothers, even when the specific words that are used are exactly the same.

Lead author of the study Dr Netta Weinstein, from Cardiff University, said: “If parents want conversations with their teens to have the most benefit, it’s important to remember to use supportive tones of voice. It’s easy for parents to forget, especially if they are feeling stressed, tired, or pressured themselves.”

The study showed that subjects were much more likely to engage with instructions that conveyed a sense of encouragement and support for self-expression and choice.

The results, whilst of obvious interest to parents, could also be of relevance to schoolteachers whose use of more motivational language could impact the learning and well-being of students in their classrooms.

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