How Mood Affects Behavior: The YUCK Factor


Guest Post by Rachel Bailey of Parenting by Heart

What Is Your Yuck Factor?

It’s amazing how much Yuck affects our behavior. In fact, Yuck probably controls your behavior quite frequently, and you aren’t even aware of it.

You may not even know what Yuck IS.

Well, I’m going to tell you.

“The Yuck Factor” is the concept that when we feel good, we act good. When we feel bad, we act bad. So when we are in Yuck (any time we don’t feel safe and content), we act negatively.

Think about it. When you’re in a good mood — when you’ve had enough sleep, you’re not hungry or sick, when you’ve recently spent time doing something for yourself that makes you feel “alive” — your behavior is much more positive and pro-social. You’re more likely to offer to help others. You’re more likely to be patient and speak kindly. You’re more likely to respond to your children in a way that is consistent with type of parent when you’d like to be.

But when you’re in a bad mood — when you’re tired, your body is fueled by sugar and coffee instead of sleep, you’re stressed, or worried, frustrated or angry — you’re much less likely to behave in a way that makes you proud. You are more reactive to your environment and others around you. (Must EVERYONE leave their messes out without cleaning up after themselves?!). Little things annoy you more, you’re much more likely to snap at or yell at anyone within arm’s reach… and you’re much more likely to lose your cool with your children. In those moments, you want THEM to do something different and you know won’t feel better until they do.

The truth is, our behavior is usually an extension of how we’re feeling inside. Now I’m not saying that it’s impossible to feel negative inside and act positively on the outside… but it takes a LOT of energy to do. And most of the time when we try to “put on a happy face,” we explode with negativity at another time.

So what do we do? Just accept that we’ll always behave negatively since parenting is full of stress, frustration, and disappointment? Absolutely not.

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The key is to recognize that parenting IS full of stress, frustration, and disappointment. And that when stressful, frustrating, disappointing things happen, we need to be kinder to ourselves — not put ourselves deeper into Yuck.

When we’re stressed, we need to take a break instead of pushing harder and doing more.

When we’re frustrated with ourselves, we need to have some compassion for our behavior rather than beating ourselves up and thinking we’re the worst parent ever.

When we’re disappointed by other’s behavior, we have to learn how to comfort ourselves before we interact with that person. Because if we don’t… our behavior will reflect all of the Yuck we feel inside.

So next time you think about changing your behavior, don’t expect things to just “get better.” Make sure you consider The Yuck Factor.

To learn more about what the Yuck Factor, how it affects your behavior (and your children’s!), and what you can do about it, contact me at

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