To stay healthy, people will do everything short of quarantining themselves to avoid getting coughed on, sneezed on, or breathed on by the sickly. As a parent, you’re probably well aware of how quickly contagious diseases like the flu can travel through a family—nay, a neighborhood. Teachers notice the same thing when they see student after student calling in sick until the class is but a mere figment of the imagination.
Research has also shown that in the workplace, one negative employee can spoil the bunch. A negative outlook on anything, whether it’s the administration, a client, or a department, can affect the morale of everyone around.
So what does this have to do with families? Believe it or not, the same research that shows how a negative attitude can “catch on” in families just as easily as it does in the office.
Tips for Parents
- Let your child know if you are undergoing stress that has nothing to do with them. For example, if you have a headache when they come home from school, tell them about it. Warn them that you may be a bit grouchier than normal, but that it’s not their fault. This will minimize the contagiousness of your negative emotions.
- Educate your family members about what to do when one is upset. “You can’t always change the person who is emoting,” says Corneau. “You need to teach others in your family to recognize that it’s not them, what people do and say isn’t their fault, even if they’re the receiver of all of it.”
- Corneau emphasizes that some children are more sensitive than others. Zero in on a child who strongly picks up energies in the house, even if they are not directed at her. Help her learn to identify when people are in a bad mood, and try to support her through the bad days of other family members.
- If one person’s mood seems to be contagious on a regular basis, support her and encourage her to get help. This might include seeing a therapist or trying to fix the issues that are causing the negative emotions (e.g., changing jobs, switching classes, finding new friends).
[Read the full article here]
- Moods Are Contagious (survivingmiddleage.wordpress.com)
- Are You Emotionally Contagious? What’s Your Body Language Style? (psychologytoday.com)