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What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

I want to teach my toddler about her body parts, but using the real words for genitalia seems too advanced for her; plus, frankly, it makes me feel self-conscious (they’re not exactly words I say aloud very often). Do I have to use the actual words, or would it be okay to make up nicknames for those body parts instead?

Re: I want to teach my toddler about her body parts, but using the real words for genitalia seems too advanced for her; plus, frankly, it makes me feel self-conscious (they’re not exactly words I say aloud very often). Do I have to use the actual words, or would it be okay to make up nicknames for those body parts instead?

The Bump Expert

Most experts agree that making up cutesy names for "private" parts when talking about the genital area gives toddlers the impression that their parents are too ashamed to call them by their real names. Generally they advise parents to talk about vaginas and penises the same way they'd talk about ears and toes: You wouldn't make up a nickname when discussing ears and toes, so why would you do that for vaginas and penises? If you’re not embarrassed when talking about these body parts, your children won't be either.

The Bump Editors

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

I've always used correct terminology with my sons. As my first born got older I also talked to him about how we don't say those words in public because it can make people embarrassed or uncomfortable. My second son isn't really talking yet but I will continue to talk with them... just be honest and frank - if you are shy about it then they might be as well.

horsecookies |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

This topic has always confounded me. I am not at all embarrassed to use the correct names for the genitals, but the problem I have is that if I want to use the CORRECT name for my daughter's genitals, I would be saying "vulva," not "vagina." The vagina is just one part of the vulva, and is not usually the part we are referring to when we are talking about her private part (let's face it, little girls don't usually have too much going on in their actual vagina--we hope.) But since I have NEVER met another person or family that uses that word, I am afraid that people will think we are odd, or will make fun of my daughter for using that word. I'm curious to hear what other people think about this...

kdlehman |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

As a teacher, I attended a seminar about child abuse and they stated how incredibly important it is to use the right names for all of your body parts if, god forbid, something terrible to should happen. Not that any of us ever want to think about things like that, but it's definitely a valid point.

morse.meghan@gmail.com |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

so good to hear that it is recommended to use the given names for the body parts! That is how I role but I had a friend tell me that she woulndt tell her daughter that "at that age". I get it & good to hear. Thank you all for your comments! I love mommy forums!

lisaewc |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

You should practice saying the words out loud so you can become comfortable. Somewhere along the line someone made you feel uncomfortable. Don't put this onto your children. We don't use different words for other body parts like arm, leg, ect. so we should not use nicknames for penis or vagina.

momfour |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

I'm so glad the expert said exactly what I've been doing. My daughters vagina is just like any other body part she has so lets call it by it's proper name. My 18 month old can name her vagina along with all her other body parts. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Later we will teach her respect and modesty when it comes to her privates but for now it's all about discovery and learning. And actually the mom that says the technical term is vulva, I say teach the correct term. I don't think there is anything wrong with your kid or family being the smarty pants that actually use the correct terminology. I might actually start doing that.

Lorrenda |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

We are modest about using correct terminology because our private area are just that, private. Yes, I do agree that correct terminology should be used but if it's easier for a mother or father to use another appropriate word to designate his/her daughter's/son's private area then so be it. I've been in many circumstances where children inappropriately use correct or incorrect terminology out of place, in public areas, with other siblings and or friends at school or preschool and it is quite offensive to others who overhear yours or another child talking about their privates. If whatever word is used is not discussed in an easy to understand way, then a child will refer to this new word more than less and use it to seek attention. SO, my point is, use an appropriate word to name your child's privates, and make sure that they're at an age of understanding. Until then, don't be so critical, and refrain from talking about it in places where others will feel uncomfortable. It's not that they may actually BE uncomfortable by what's being said or how it is said but WHERE it is being said. Keep your privates PRIVATE, and for good reason too.

jltaylor318 |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

mmm I agree that the proper lables should be used for our body parts BUT I also have a little nephew that thinks its HILARIOUS to say PENIS quite loudly at restaurants and other inappropriate places. He does not understand yet that this is not a word used for "table talk" or classroom talk. Apparenly he got a laugh out of some older cousins and play mates when he said it and now thinks of it as his big show stopper. You can tell him all day long that its not funny but he sure does get attention. I think it depends on your child. If you know your kid is the jokester and would use it as an ammusement rather than to talk about a specific body part in proper conversation then maybe use a nickname 'till they know better. I dont think there is anything wrong with curtailing the uncomfortablness of the teacher discussing your preschoolers vocabulary with you. Again - it's not about being ashamed of it - its about kids being kids. It's like a toddler thinking that farts are funny - sure everybody farts but NOT when youre sitting at the bank setting up a new college account.

ANGEMAMA5 |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

I think educating your child on the actual words and being an adult about the situation is best. I do however use the words Gine-Gine for my daughter and just Penis for my son. But my daughter does know its vagina, breast, and butt. Even Va-J.J. is ok if thats what your comfortable with. Dont ever feel embarrassed or ashamed b/c your child is educated about theirselves. People will think what they want but we are all adults and should be confident in ourselves as adults, otherwise what are we teaching our kids?? You should never feel ashamed to be truthful with your kids. Their your kids! Teach your children to be confident in themselves and that starts with no sugar coating anything just because of what the next person thinks. Hope you understand. :-)

kiyamaragh |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

Well it depends of what makes you feel more comfortable upon this topic. But my fair belief is that we need to be very honest to them because kids these days are very smart and they absorb all the information that reaches them. Otherwise, they have plenty of time in their entire lives to develop their academic background. We need to ensure their bases as mature and aware people.

conquerer |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

Don`t stress so much upon this topic, just act naturally and offer your kid a healthy background of what real life means and all the aspects related to it. We live in the informational era, in the one which studying online will probably be the future of education. They will have access to all sorts of information resources as soon as they grow older and learn how to use the computer. So just be honest to them and educate them right.

sensicalanne |

what-words-should-i-use-when-teaching-my-child-about-genitals

My daughter just found her vagina & now when she bathes everythin goes toward it she wont stop playing with it. My pediatrition said its normal just to tell her no & distract her with something else but it doesnt seem to work very well... Any other suggestions on what i could do to avoid this? Shes only 18 months so she doesnt really understand talk about vaginas & penises nor do i want her to at this age but she is curious about herself & i eoild like to educate her somewhat about her body so she knows.

Mystirita11 |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

I agree with using the proper names for the penis and vagina, but we only just recently told our 4 year old what his was called for the very reason another reader was describing. I feared that he would be running around saying "penis penis penis!!" Just for the reaction. At this age (4) I feel that he's old enough to understand that it's not appropriate to talk about in public, and the transition from "pee pee" to "penis" was no problem.

karynj1 |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

We tell our son that boy parts are penises, girl parts are vaginas and breasts but what everyone has is their own business. He now refers to all genitals as "biznis".

MommaDorie |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

To the mom who mentioned vulva being the technical term, I agree that should be taught. I'm going to teach my daughter that (she's only 18 months) but I'm also going to teach her that most people call it vagina so she's not confused if she hears someone else say it. I was taught vulva as a child and would get really confused when people said vagina. I thought it must be something different that I didn't know about, so I want to teach my daughter that the world calls it something different. I'm also with the mom who wants advice on how to distract my 18 month old from her genitals (during bathtime and diaper changes). No matter what we do we can't distract her from it, but at this age she's not going to understand any explanations about it. Any advice for a child who's this young?

mingo821 |

What words should I use when teaching my child about genitals?

I'm so glad I saw this today! I was literally JUST talking to my SO about what we would call DD's "private parts". I too will probably use vulva. Thanks!

biancag7 |