Positive and negative emotions are both contagious and, especially in coParenting relationships, emotions can run high. These emotions get passed down to the children either from coParents, family members, and even professionals. It is important to pass on positive emotions instead of the negative ones that may surround you at this time. The following is advice for coParents, family members, and professionals.

coParents: Remember that emotions are contagious. Make your best efforts not to expose your child to your intense anger, fear, hurt, sadness and other negative emotions about the other coParent – even if you are dealing with a high-conflict coParenting relationship. When you do find your emotions get the better of you (because no one is perfect), counter it by making positive comments about the other parent to keep things balanced. Avoid believing that feelings are decisions. If your child is anxious, remind them that feelings are not harmful and feelings can change with time. This is a way to teach your children resilience: “Right now things may not be great but this too shall pass and things will get better because we will work through it”.

Family and Friends: Be careful not to absorb the contagious emotions of those involved in a potentially high-conflict divorce. Check in with yourself to see if you are getting “hooked” by negative emotions. Acknowledge that these are upsetting times and that emotions can reduce and heal. Be reassuring, while gently focusing back on problem-solving when your family member or friend is ready. Let the children know that you understand these are stressful times, but feelings aren’t final decisions.

Professionals: Teach your clients that emotions are contagious – your client’s and your own. Watch out for getting emotionally “hooked” by your client’s pain, fear, and anger. Also, watch out for passing your frustration onto your clients, who may pass them on to the children. Educate other professionals and the courts about the emotional contagion, so that they understand that everyone’s expressed emotions maybe even more important than what they say.


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About Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq

Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, mediator and the President of High Conflict Institute. He developed the "High Conflict Personality" theory (HCP Theory) and has become an international expert on managing disputes involving high conflict personalities and personality disorders. He provides training on this subject to lawyers, judges, mediators, managers, human resource professionals, businesspersons, healthcare administrators, college administrators, homeowners’ association managers, ombudspersons, law enforcement, therapists and others. He has been a speaker and trainer in over 25 states, several provinces in Canada, Australia, France and Sweden.

As an attorney, Bill is a Certified Family Law Specialist in California and the Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego. Prior to becoming an attorney in 1992, he was a Licensed Clinical Social worker with twelve years’ experience providing therapy to children, adults, couples and families in psychiatric hospitals and outpatient clinics. He has taught Negotiation and Mediation at the University of San Diego School of Law for six years and he is on the part-time faculty of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law and the National Judicial College.

He is the author of numerous articles and several books.

Areas of Expertise: Mediation, Family Law, Workplace, Judicial Officers, Court Systems, Governmental Entities, Mental Health Professionals, New Ways for Families.


To view his book, “BIFF: Quick Responses to High-Conflict People,” visit this link:

To view his book, “Don’t Alienate the Kids!” Visit this site:

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