Attachment- and emotion-focused parenting interventions (AE) have grown in popularity as an alternative to behavioral parent training (BPT) for children and adolescents. AE go beneath behavior by helping parents understand and respond to their child’s underlying attachment and emotional needs. Past reviews have examined their effects on attachment security and caregiver sensitivity, though less is known regarding their effects on child mental health symptoms. Reported here is the first systematic review and meta-analysis of individual and group AE on externalizing behavior (EXT) and internalizing behavior (INT) for children aged 0–18 years. A search of four databases prior to July 2021 elicited 43 studies that met eligibility criteria. Meta-analysis revealed that AE were superior to waitlist controls for EXT (SMD = − 0.17) and INT (SMD = − 0.34). Effects were sustained at follow-up periods of 6 months and greater, and AE considered to target child mental health were significantly more effective than those that did not in reducing EXT and INT. Two studies retrieved directly compared AE to BPT, which showed no evidence of a difference for follow-up measures of EXT. No studies compared AE to BPT on INT. AE demonstrated no evidence of superiority compared to controls for parent mental health. Findings support the potential for AE to reduce EXT and INT in children and adolescents; however, future research should consider the relative effectiveness of AE.