Parenting expert shares the one ‘emotional habit’ that can affect kids’ ‘security’ and ‘trust in themselves’ and what parents can say and do instead to break the cycle

Most people won't even realise they're doing it

Parents and young child smiling on the sofa
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A parenting expert shares an emotional habit and 'one phrase' that parents might use that can inadvertently affect their child's behaviour. But there are ways around it, and here's what parents can do instead to break the cycle.

While parents focus on how to raise happy kids, fewer conversations are given to the wellbeing of those doing the child raising, to successfully achieve this. It's increasingly understood that adults who weren't taught to manage their emotions struggle when they have their own kids - some are realising the six phrases they need to hear from their own parents to move on from difficult childhoods, becoming the parents they want to be and raising good kids.

Parenting expert Destini Ann Davis, understands that new mums and dads begin their journey with the best of intentions, but don't always achieve the parenting goals they want. She believes they can inadvertently undermine their kids' security and ability to trust in themselves, suggesting the emotional habit that causes these negative attributes in children, is to focus solely on their child's emotions and ignore their own parental ones. 

In Davis' case, her parents had always treated her like the 'bad' child, and had branded her with that label without trying to understand her behaviour or alter their parenting to accommodate it. She struggled with these internalised feelings when raising her own family, not realising the eventual impact this would have. 

Consequently, Davis decided that if she buried emotions about her own childhood and focused entirely on her child's feelings, everything would work out. However, she ended up noticing her child's self-confidence plummet and her behaviour deteriorate - they didn't have the relationship Davis hoped for. 

She realised her entire parenting philosophy was based on the fear of messing up in the same way as her parents and her child also being labelled 'bad' was resulting in those very fears come to life. The parenting expert now urges people raising kids never to say the following phrase: "I'll never be like my parents." Davis feel strongly that doing this will cause the parenting behaviours you're trying to banish, keeping the negative cycle going. 

Speaking on an episode of the Open Relationships: Transforming Together podcast, Davis said candidly: "You're going to experience the highest level of conflict with children, and no amount of parenting tricks and tips will change that." She concurs that indeed, more adults are admitting to being impacted by the way they were parented, whether intentional or not - the trick is to acknowledge this in your own parenting, not cast it aside. 

The parenting expert now urges people raising kids never to say the following phrase: "I'll never be like my parents."

It took understanding that conflict would occur no matter how she parented, for Davis to admit she needed to make some big changes. This involved coming to terms with her own upbringing. "If I keep ignoring me and what I experienced, this is not going to work," she said of raising her kids.

Working with this emotion allowed her to heal and move forward, landing on the point she felt she could forgive her parents. It wasn't easy, and it required plenty of support. Now an advocate of gentle parenting, Davis believes this has allowed her to have the correct compassion and respect for her kids, and ultimately be the parent she hoped she'd be.

For more on parenting, we share how to raise resilient kids, and how to raise confident kids. Want to raise successful children? A psychologist shares one key trick to achieve this.

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.