Emotions and Behavior

In this section, you will learn how to interpret your child’s emotions and behaviors.

The learning objectives for this section are:

  • Explain the impact of your own emotions on your child and your parenting decisions.
  • Explain the connection between how your child behaves and how they are feeling inside.
  • Identify three effective strategies to help your child cope with strong emotions.
  • Identify when you may need to get help.
Child drawing of a Father and Son fishing


Your emotional challenges may impact your parenting. These challenges may also cause your child to react to your unique conditions.

Often a child's difficult emotions and behaviors are their way of asking for help.

Select the Play Button to hear Matt’s son talk about why he began acting out while his dad was deployed.

Understand Your Child's Behavior

A child's behavior is their way of telling you how they feel and what they need. Recognizing these hidden messages can help you figure out how best to help your child.

In this exercise you will try to identify the underlying emotions and needs of some common behaviors. To begin, select your child's age group.

Select the Learn More Button for more information on your child's behaviors.

Behavior: Infant is fussy and not sleeping well

What is your child trying to tell you?

How Emotions Impact Others

When your child is angry, sad, acting out or withdrawing, what are your usual reactions? Do you get angry, upset, or perhaps, you feel hopeless?

In these times of distress, it is important to view the problem from your child's perspective.

Select the Learn More Button to complete an activity that demonstrates how we react to emotions and behaviors can actually make a difference.

Mother and daughter upset at eachother
Boy drawing with crayons on wall with parent looking on with hands on hips.

Managing Emotions

Because your emotions can affect your parenting, it is important that you know how to successfully manage them.

The better you can cope with your own emotions, the more positive impact you can have on your child.

Select the Learn More Button to examine some helpful tips for managing emotions.

Summary and Conclusion

There is no "right" way to help your child cope with their emotions. Everyone is different, and your family will need to find the strategies that work for all of you.

If you are unsure about how to help or talk with your child at any time, remember it’s always okay to get support from others.

If you teach your child(ren) how to handle difficult times now, they will know how to deal with the challenges that happen throughout life.

Feel free to download and use these Tip Sheets.