Parents' Bad Mood Can Affect Children's Emotional Development

A child's surroundings have a great impact on their psyche. When parents are angry or irritable, this can have a negative influence on the mental stability of their children.
Parents' Bad Mood Can Affect Children's Emotional Development

Last update: 12 March, 2018

Parents’ emotional stability plays a fundamental role in their children’s development. If a parent is constantly in a bad mood, then the child is negatively affected both emotionally and cognitively.

It’s very important to keep your own emotional stability in check, and avoid being in a continuous bad mood in order to safeguard your child’s emotional well-being.

Irritable parents: A serious problem for children

When parents are in a bad mood, this can have serious consequences on their children’s emotional development. This is especially true when the parent’s emotional state is recurring or persistent.

Yelling at your child or at other family members can produce serious insecurity issues for children. In some cases, it can also cause your child to have issues with guilt.

Children between the ages of 0 and 3 are especially vulnerable to their parents’ emotional instability. However, this doesn’t mean that older children go unscathed.

It’s extremely important that parents be aware and control their own behavior around their children at all times. This recommendation not only favors the adult’s mental health, but also that of the rest of the family.

Parents' Bad Mood Can Affect Children's Emotional Development

Why do parents become angry or irritable?

There are many factors that can cause a parent to be in a bad mood. We may often be dragging around baggage from the past that requires professional assistance.

On other occasions, stress is brought on by problems such as work, financial issues, etc. If this is the case, it’s good to look for activities that allow you to release negative energy. If you’re unable to control your negative feelings, then you should turn to a specialist.

The important thing is to identify the problem and do whatever you can to solve it. By doing so, you may be able to avoid serious effects on the people around you, especially your children.

The effects that parents’ bad mood has on children


This is one of the main effects that a parent’s continuous bad mood can have on children. When a child is constantly exposed to tense and stressful situations, this tends to produce insecurity.

This is especially true when the tension and stress involves the child’s parents. And this same sense of insecurity can evolve into feelings of guilt.

Depression and anxiety

Along with insecurity come depression and anxiety. It’s common for children that are repeatedly affected by their parents’ bad mood to present problems with adaptation at school. They may also have difficulty with other children their age.

A child’s school performance may also suffer as a result, as may the child’s relationship with the parent. The child may be afraid to express herself around her parents, which can lead to a series of both short and long-term emotional conflicts.

Aggressive behavior

When parents are constantly in a bad mood, the child may interpret this as a lack of affection. This assessment is extremely damaging, as it can seriously affect the child’s development.

Children that grow up with a cold and distant relationship with their parents develop aggressive behavior and clear signs of anxiety.

How can parents avoid being in a bad mood?

Depending on the seriousness of the situation, it might be time to seek the help of a professional. However, if this is a budding issue, then some of the recommendations below might work to correct the situation

Take some time for yourself

One of the main recommendations for maintaining optimal emotional health is to set aside time for yourselfTake an hour to work out, read, or get together with some friends. These are all great ways to burn off accumulated stress.

Parents' Bad Mood Can Affect Children's Emotional Development

Encourage communication

An effective way to avoid stressful situations is to maintain open and effective communication with those close to you. Respect, and the ability to express personal opinions are key to keeping stress levels low. They also help you keep your mental and emotional health under control.

Recognize that there’s a problem

If you don’t admit there’s a problem, then you’ll never find a solution. The only way to face the issue and make a change is to first recognize that something needs to change.

It’s also important to assure your child that your mood is not his or her fault. Communication, once again, is essential to protect other family members from being negatively affected by your mood.

When parents are in a bad mood, this can have serious effects on a child’s emotional and cognitive development

Admit that there’s a problem and take steps to face the problem and make a change. This is the beginning to a better relationship with yourself and those around you.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Carpena, A. (2008). Emociones y salud. Aula de Innovación Educativa, 173-174 (pp. 61-64).
  • Garrido-Rojas, L. (2006). Apego, emoción y regulación emocional. Implicaciones para la salud. Revista latinoamericana de psicología, 38(3), 493-507.
  • Navas, M. D. C. O. (2010). La educación emocional y sus implicaciones en la salud. Revista Española de orientación y psicopedagogía, 21(2), 462-470.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.