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Choose Your Words Wisely | How to not panic when your toddler starts swearing













Season 1 Episode 7

Summary

This week is all about words – Jess expands her vocabulary and Layne tells the story of when a 3-year-old used the spiciest language ever heard in a preschool classroom. We talk strategies for teaching children how to choose their words, use powerful language and express themselves appropriately (including a solid script for how to respond to toddler swearing…because it happens, folks!).

We answer a listener question about why her two-year-old is so strong willed, what role “gentle parenting” plays and how to survive the tantrums. This is our deepest dive into toddler behavior so far on this podcast and it is juicy!


Join Very Good Mother’s Club to be a part of our community and get your questions answered on a future episode!


Find Jess at Jessica Hover on Youtube and @jess_hover on Instagram


Find Layne @enquiryco on Instagram




Transcription

Jessica:

Is it ancillary or tertiary or peripheral?


Layne:

Yeah. Oh, all of them mean off to the side- not the priority, not the focus.


Jessica:

I love doing this with you so much, but tertiary is really fun.


Layne:

Tertiary is is fun.


Jessica:

So what happened was Layne- before we started recording said something-she wants the video for you guys to be more beautiful but it just isn’t yet because it’s a tertiary some- I don’t know what she actually said next because I cut her off when she said "tertiary".


Layne:

Yeah, you know, we’re just making a podcast, trying to get production equipment going, making sure that it sounds correct...all the things that are priority as opposed to the visual, which is tertiary.


Jessica:

"Tertiary" which is spelled t e r t...


Layne:

I have to show it to you again because I can’t spell out loud.


Jessica:

Tertiary. So that brought me back to third grade when I won my school Spelling Bee.


Layne:

You did? Congratulations!


Jessica:

Thank you so much! The word was… well I remember when went to like the next level and then I got out on words I think it was that both in third grade and in fourth grade that happened- easy easy words but not at the time: guarantee…


Layne:

That’s not an easy word at all


Jessica:

I know and then sinus- that one got me out. Oh I think sinus might have been the first year and then guarantee was the next year.


Layne:

Sinus is tricky that’s a lot of those are like sneaky vowel sounds.


Jessica:

It is s i n u s. Never forget that word So anyway, so you can teach me the words and then I can learn to spell them aloud and our listeners will have an expanded vocabulary and people will be surprised because they’re probably listening at home with their baby or toddler so they think their brain is melting but actually act it’s expanding right this very moment: tertiary

Welcome to another episode of Very Good Enough, I’m Jessica Hover.


Layne:

I’m Layne Deyling Cherland, I usually say this is "Very Good Enough, a podcast from..."


Jessica:

Should we do that again? Yeah I feel like if they’ve been listening this long they know

Okay the question I have is are you allowed to swear? Have we gotten enough feedback? You’re not allowed. We have not gotten enough feedback because I saw somebody said I listened with headphones somebody else said I love the real talk yes Becca is sitting here watching and she’s not sure what’s going on so what happened was always oh you know so she’s in purgatory. Becca, oh, Becca listens.


Layne:

It’s week seven purgatory I don’t know how this is gonna play out I don’t know how this is going to play out because also some of the YouTube comments were like maybe a little bit less and I’m watching with my kid. There was one I’m watching with my kid there was one I might want to share this with my 12 year old niece and I was like “sort of feel like the occasional swear for your 12 year old niece to be like hey don’t do that.


Jessica:

Yeah I could see that I mean I I don’t know if people would agree with me but I let my kids listen to certain music that says certain things that I’m like I kind of would rather they hear it with me first because they’re gonna hear it somewhere else. I’m not trying to steal their innocence but I also am thinking they’re gonna hear it


Layne:

Yeah you’re guiding them through life in a sense it grows into experience right and you’re just guiding the process of that transition for that it’s not a thing that gets lost it’s a thing that gets incorporated into experience of real life. Should I make my pitch for why I want to swear on this podcast? That just feels obvious.


Jessica:

I think you should make your pitch.


Layne:

I guess maybe I’ll just roll out this is how I handle swearing with small children.


Jessica:

So Layne is about to tell a story there’s going to be some language in it.


Layne:

This dad comes in, I’ve been with this family for maybe like three years andhis little girl showed up at our school at 14 months old, two weeks after she was at our school she walks down these long stairs and she jumped a little bottom stair and she patted her mom on the leg and said “You can go now I’m home”.


Jessica:

oh my gosh!


Layne:

Her mom was hallelujah like I’m so happy guys and goodbye here’s my tiny baby genius child. So I’ve been with this little girl for a really long time and her dad sometimes would like drop her off in the morning kind of like they would have a conflict and he would just sort of scoop her into the classroom and one time he literally like slid her a little bit on the floor where he would come in with a hairbrush and leave her and a hairbrush.


Jessica:

Are parents allowed to do?


Layne:

I mean, he did. I’m not gonna say the favorite word yeah sometimes you develop a really strong relationship and we’re poor. These people were aware that I was in it, really in it with them.


Jessica:

Were they your favorite or you were their favorite?


Layne:

Two things at once. But you weren’t allowed to say it then. I’ve had a handful, I have a handful of favorites okay it’s kind of the deal. This is like a top five. So one day he comes in with her she’s like clutching him kind of like doing that tremble weep that sometimes happens at the end of a tantrum where you know that there’s been conflict but now the child is like so tired, so spent and he’s sort of just like peeled her off and handed her to me and was like I’m gonna let her tell you what happened and left. So I ended up handing my classroom off to someone else and took this little baby into an empty class and kind of set her up with some toys next to her and behind her which ended up being very much to my benefit because the story that she told well…. Child’s name here: What happened this morning with your dad? It seems like everybody’s got some big feelings, what’s going on? She’s hammering something and kind of whimpering. This morning, I said a bad word. I’m like, Okay. Do you want to do you want to tell me what it was or do you want to just talk about…I said pussy. So I get it together super rapidly. Okay, okay. Thank you for telling me. Not at all what I was expected the only time that this particular word, which is by the way, not a swear I’m offering to you on this podcast or in my real life that’s not what I’m talking about. So I’m like, okay, did you kind of just say that word? Did you maybe say it generally or like to someone?

She said, I was trying to buckle my own seatbelt and my dad buckled my seatbelt for me. And I said, Daddy, you are a pussy.


Jessica:

She has heard that line.


Layne:

No toddler has ever picked that one up just around in the world. I was like, Oh, this is a family secret.


Jessica:

This stays between you and me until I have my own podcast.


Layne:

Until I have a podcast and then I’m going to tell everyone. So it’s like a very vocal child as a child who has used that swear correctly heard it, used it in context. Was the most powerful word she could think of. So she’s sitting there playing with tools and I’m like thinking something quick. Okay, tools tools. So child’s name,we got to talk about this. That was like a pretty powerful word to use, right? Like that had some impact. And she’s like, Yeah. Like were you a little surprised at how big of a word it was? Did you maybe get more of a reaction than you thought?

Yes. I was just trying to say something mean.

So there was a little bit of like the scared feeling of like, whoa. So do you know how they’re really powerful tools in the world? Like right now you have a toy hammer and there’s a toy saw here and these are things for you to play with. Would I let you use a real toy hammer in real life? Which she said, maybe if you’re right there. And I’m like all right, would I let you use a real saw in real life, all by yourself? No, no, I definitely wouldn’t because that’s a tool that is used for something really specific, it’s actually a very good tool and we need it for a ton of stuff. But, your hands are still pretty small, and you’re still kind of learning how to be in control of the things that you use. So I wouldn’t probably give you something that’s quite so powerful yet until you’re a little bigger and you have more practice and you know how to use it well, because I actually think that you would want to use it in the right way. And you would probably save it for times when it’s really important. Our words are like tools, sometimes, that particular word and then there are also some other ones that you know, you’re not allowed to say right? And she’s like, Yeah, totally.


Jessica:

That could totally be a children’s book idea: words are like tools.


Layne:

It came from a place of inspiration. Just like there are big tools in the world there are words that actually I use. I don’t use that one because I don’t really love, is the thing I really told her. I don’t love that one. That means some stuff that we could talk about in a lot of years when you’re much older. But there are some really big powerful words that you’re not allowed to use that I actually do use in my real life sometimes when I want to. I use them when I want to have a really big impact. You saw how powerful that word was this morning, like when I want to use a word that’s really powerful, I’ve practiced with my words a ton, So now I am allowed to use them and you will get practice in your life to know how powerful it is and get strong enough and skilled enough to know when to employ those words.


Jessica:

Really good.


Layne:

And then we went back to our classroom and I told every adult I saw. Guess who, child’s name called her dad this morning?


Jessica:

Did you ever process it with the dad?


Layne:

No, no, no, he was clear that his three year old had said that word to him. And I could definitely tell that she had heard that word somewhere. He wanted to know that it got handled and Okay, thank you and goodbye.


Jessica:

But that’s a really good explanation of those words. They are not tertiary. They are words you use on purpose when you want the impact that they bring. And you skip over the ones you never want to use. Like that one.


Layne:

What I didn’t tell the three year old is that a lot of the times when I use them, it’s because I think it’s funny, because that’s what I want her to use those words for right now.


Jessica:

True. But I also think it’s funny. I don’t generally swear. There was a period of my life where I thought it was really bad. And then I now no longer think it’s bad. I think it’s important not to waste words. You and I have talked about that-we agree on that. Like, I think there’s something too if you just were constantly swearing- to me it comes across a bit lazy like you don’t have the vocabulary to fit the accurate words in or the better words, so you’re just lazy with this language. But I actually appreciate a word perfectly placed that is so funny to me. But now I’m just not in the habit of using it. And so then if I do it feels a little bit out of place like this isn’t mine.


Layne:

Yeah, you can always kind of tell when someone doesn’t swear. I started saying them because they were bad and I was like, Look how bad I am at 11 years old.


Jessica:

I think personally following the rules so hard that now I don’t know how to use them, but then I now have some years of making content knowing that I wasn’t going to swear and now I am wide open. My preference is that you speak the way you speak because I love the way you speak generally day to day. I love it. And so I think that’s something that’s special about a podcast is it’s real conversations that are less edited and curated and just more natural.


Layne:

Yeah, for sure.


Jessica:

But they can do what they want.


Layne:

They can tell us what they want. And I think it’s so funny that we’re now seven episodes into this, like still talking about the swearing, but it also is just like one of those life things that comes up. Children are gonna hear the swearing. That’s main stream. They live in this world. They’re definitely going to parties, and if you’re scared of swear words, they’re gonna use it with great impact. And feel the impact of that. So kind of like all things in life that feel like there’s any kind of a charge to them-I feel like as much as we the adults can, moving those out of the like shock and alarm space for ourselves actually keeps us in a regulated space so that children don’t have these like, secret weapons to shock and awe my mom or make my dad really mad.

Keeping it in a place of knowing how to talk about this and I know what our family does and what our choices are and I’m the adult so I am going to set the tone.


Jessica:

Yeah, your values. In our house we don’t talk like that.


Layne:

But its not like an ahhhh


Jessica:

Exactly, exactly. Okay. we are going to transition into a question because what we just talked about, we didn’t plan that at all. but I think that was beyond just a hilarious story that was-use your words well


Layne:

Yeah, powerful and important this is just like a quick hack. Since we’re having a podcast about words almost. Powerful and important and clean are some of my favorite euphemisms for things. We talked about bodily autonomy and being able to name your body parts and how to talk about your genitals and how they are really important and a powerful part of your body they need to be kept safe and clean as opposed to like that’s very private and secret and we don’t talk about it. Any of those things that have an emotional charge when you feel…


Jessica:

Don’t you think there is a difference between private and secret? I feel like when it comes to these parts of our bodies-I think of Eloise and how her parts are private, not secret and we can talk about it because it’s not secret, it’s private as in other people don’t get to come be a part of this right now.


Layne:

That is something that is going to function for you because you are a person that’s not afraid of those parts of your body. Other people might feel a tightness inside about it and when they say that word what comes out is scared or withdrawing back. For me, important and powerful are easy and any time you feel scared or extra emotion to me those are easy substitutes for words that are hard to say out loud. That’s a personal hack.


Jessica:

And then you keep it clean? But you wouldn’t say a word is clean or dirty.


Layne:

I wouldn’t say dirty. I don’t like dirty. I don’t like, it’s a general preference, I do try to keep things neutral, and that comes from having a professional background as opposed to having my own children. So I work really hard to keep any language out that might have judgment on it. What I want is for them to encounter all the things in their life from a neutral place that is clear and open and be equipped with what they need to manage that to see the world and be able to stand what they see because they’re not scared or endlessly trying to navigate like, Is this good or bad? Am I right or wrong? Like, I want them to just be able to encounter it and just think about it- make choices. It’s kind of my ultimate goal for children. So I try to stay in kind of a neutral space.


Jessica:

It’s really sweet. I like it. I like it about you. Offline. I like it about you- you’re very refreshing. Okay, so there is someone in our community who asked a question, I think it’d be good to dive in. This is a pretty broad question. So warned. I’m sure there’s a lot of places you can go with this. But Tammy says, I believe Tammy is from the UK. Tammy says Hi Jess and Layne. I’m struggling at the moment. I feel my daughter doesn’t listen and just does what she wants all the time, I try to do gentle parenting, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult. Any tips on dealing with a strong willed 2.4 year old? I’m sure you’ve seen many strong willed 2.4 year olds.


Layne:

I think almost 2.4 year olds are pretty strong willed. At least in some area of their life.


Jessica:

That makes sense to me.


Layne:

That is a nice, big, broad question. Absolutely. Just want to start with a lot of affirmation that life with a 2.4 year old is so, so complex, because they are such complex beings going through such a complicated internal change. So it’s hard because these are people who are volatile and vibrant and full of color. And some of those colors are like, bright hot red and some of those colors are like, gray stonewalling you. They’re just like so full.


Jessica:

It’s like the beginning of them even being able to understand that they’re separate from you, am I right? And like they can push back and then look and be like, “are you still there?” So the strong, I’m sure there’s variations of strong will in toddlers, but it might actually be a quality of a toddler is to have a strong will that pushes back against the parent, right?


Layne:

Yes. to have a will at all, has just just begun for her. And she’s just emerged as a person who knows that she exists and she’s not the same as you. She just spent all of that like late one year old and early two year old making super sure that you’re a person and that she’s a person and kind of exploring the distance there. How far away can I get from you before I get scared? Because actually, I’m still small and I want to come back and how hard can I crash back into you to see if we’ll like reabsorb into being the same person? What’s the distance and where are the edges? So you’re now at two and a half in a very where the edges moment. She feels confident that she’s real and that there is space and now it’s almost like she’s running her hands along the edge of life. What it means that she has a self and that you have a self. And that’s the case for kind of like all beings now she’s like, Well, that one’s over there and this one’s over here and that one’s shaped this way. And this one’s shaped that way, both like literally and like metaphorically shaped. But you mom, Tammy are for sure receiving the brunt of it because you’re her origin space, you’re her constant, the thing that’s absolutely always there. And because you’re also a person, you are also a variable. So sometimes when she comes you do one thing, and sometimes when she comes you do another and that’s just because you’re a person and sometimes it’s yes, and sometimes it’s no and she just is endlessly exploring kind of what that cycle means. kind of filling up her stockpiles of person data in the background. You can’t have a will if you’re not a separate person. So this is really her first opportunity to find out what does it mean that I’m a force in the world. And gentle parenting can mean a lot of things. I know that there are some very particular terms, there are definitions for that term in particular, that is a style. But then also I think that people use it kind of colloquially, and I don’t know which one of the ways you mean it. I don’t know a super ton about it as like a system I’ve always just kind of been like, I’m gonna just take that as it sounds. But what I know about the word gentle is that it does not mean not firm. You can be both gentle and firm. And so I want to encourage you that there is space for you, Tammy to firm up with this child and practice showing her where the edges are, because that’s kind of her big question for you is like, where’s the line? And by the line I don’t mean like the line you can never cross I just mean like literally, the boundary line. Like our most basic boundary is our skin, right? Like you can’t pass through my skin. If you do there’s damage and blood comes out and things have a problem. And so she’s is actually even fundamentally understanding like, I have skin loud. So you’re showing her where the edges are, you are teaching her about human boundaries and human life because there is an edge. And what a toddler really actually wants is to find it. They want you to be sort of the proverbial sea cliff that they can kind of crash their waves against. That never moves. That’s actually where a feeling of real safety comes because if you are the thing that is supposed to show them where the edge is, and you never do, and they can’t find sort of like the boundary space out in the world, it ends up leaving a person kind of psychologically feeling like a sort of adrift, anxious, because we we know and we can feel that we’re not actually the most powerful being in the universe. We don’t want to be right. We want to be protected and we want to know, we want to have an organization to life and know where this goes and where that goes and where I belong, what belongs to me and what belongs to you. We’re looking for separations between this and that because that’s a world that has order and safety. So showing her, this is where the edge is and it will not move in the places where it’s important that the edge doesn’t move is actually going to provide her with a lot of safety and I’m not telling you that it won’t cause a reaction because it certainly will. It certainly will. But surviving those big reactions and being with her and attuning to her in those and not moving the line is long term, the process that’s going to teach her how to be an organized and powerful person who knows where her power is and where other people’s power is and respects both of those.


Jessica:

That’s really good. So I have a three year old, which means I just passed this stage that Tammy is in. And I have an almost two year old who is approaching this and her strong will is coming out. I don’t know what gentle parenting is in the way that Tammy knows it either. I know what I’ve heard similar to you, I know that there’s extremes of it. I believe that like doesn’t believe in saying no. And I can just tell you, I say no to my children. And oh, no. Did you say no to the kids you worked off?


Layne:

Yeah


Jessica:

Okay, I think the way that I view it is that it’s really helpful and good in the way you’re describing. It creates a safety and helps them understand how to use this amazing strong will in the way that is good. Because, you know, they can grow up to be amazing leaders and people who love really well and are good listeners and understand where we’re no leads to the right things and if we’re not showing them a no now I think the world’s going to be really surprising. I don’t know but maybe someone would would explain gentle parenting to me and convinced me otherwise right now but I’m not convinced. So what I will say is that through consistently showing Wilson edges as you’re describing, basically being firm and giving him boundaries and being able to say like, yes, we do act like this in our family. No, we do not do this to our sisters, you know, whatever it is, and being consistent about that. It’s been so cool to see his strong will learn almost like how to be and where to surrender and how to have big feelings, but then handle them appropriately as versus taking over the room. , I just want to say I’m doing it and I see this as well right now in my current life.


Layne:

There’s so much to say. There’s so much to say. But to wrap this episode up, I think I have like a little bit of a template for you, Tammy, and everyone. The goal here is for you to be able to guide your two year old into using the tools that are super successful for her and train her to drop the tools that are unsuccessful. So like when she wants something from you, and is choosing screaming or hitting or whatever the undesired behavior is, your goal is to make that really unsuccessful so that the data that she gets is- this is not going to work for you. And I actually say that out loud a lot to two year olds. Oh, I hear that you’re screaming at me. This isn’t going to work for you. This doesn’t work for me, this isn’t gonna work for you. What you could do is come put your hand on your leg and say Excuse me Miss Layne and then I would be happy to listen to you. You know the thing that just says like, not that this is what you can do. And then marking the task when she does do the thing that is desirable. Oh, thank you for coming to to help me. I’m so happy to listen to you. These things that say like, yes, this not that. And I do feel that there’s a way to be emotionally present.

Do the thing that is desirable. And I’m going to calmly, gently, quietly within myself, make it really frustrating for you to utilize this tool that is not working, not working and not going to work in life. And to me, this is what logical consequences actually look like. I’m going to make sure to reward the successful behavior and I’m going to make sure to thwart the unsuccessful behavior.


Jessica;

That makes a lot of sense. Well, you nailed it on that. Our big goal is to keep these episodes 30 minutes or less because we want to honor your time because we like you so much. You’re doing such a good job. So thank you for being here. Remember, you can join our online community very good mother’s clubhouse.com. We have a membership group. You can submit questions there- get access to us anytime you want. You can find us on Instagram. We would love to know you better- feel free to reach out. You’re doing such a good job. Thanks for everything and goodbye.



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