Set right tone for teens

The Western Star - - Family Life -

TEENAGERS are more likely to do their home­work and tidy their room if asked in a soft and sup­port­ive way, a study sug­gests.

Re­searchers say pushy mums who bark or­ders get their child’s back up, pro­voke neg­a­tive emo­tions and drive a wedge be­tween them.

They are more likely to co­op­er­ate when ad­dressed with a sense of en­cour­age­ment – even if the words used are ex­actly the same.

Al­low­ing teens to make a choice and ex­press them­selves freely prompts the best re­sults.

The find­ings should help par­ents and teach­ers man­age their chil­dren and pupils more ef­fec­tively, Cardiff Univer­sity boffins say.

They ex­am­ined how 1000 kids aged 14 and 15 re­sponded to in­struc­tions from a woman when de­liv­ered in dif­fer­ent tones.

The 30 mes­sages in­cluded “it’s time now to go to school”, “you will read this book tonight” and “you will do well on this as­sign­ment”.

The stu­dents were quizzed af­ter each in­struc­tion on how they would feel and re­spond if their mum had spo­ken to them that way.

Those de­liv­ered in a “sup­port­ive” way were rated high­est and those con­veyed in “con­trol­ling” man­ner fared worst.

Dr Netta We­in­stein 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.

“Ado­les­cents likely feel more cared about and hap­pier, and as a re­sult they try harder at school, when par­ents and teach­ers speak in sup­port­ive rather than pres­sur­ing tones of voice.”

Prof Silke Paul­mann, who worked on the study at the Univer­sity of Es­sex, added: “These re­sults nicely il­lus­trate how pow­er­ful our voice is and that choos­ing the right tone to com­mu­ni­cate is cru­cial in all of our con­ver­sa­tions.”

The re­searchers will now in­ves­ti­gate how tone of voice af­fects heart rates, sweat­ing and other phys­i­cal re­sponses.

The find­ings are pub­lished in the jour­nal Devel­op­men­tal Psy­chol­ogy.

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