Vagina or vulva?

Merry - posted on 02/14/2011 ( 111 moms have responded )

9,274

169

263

What term should I teach my 2 year old son Eric is the word for girls private part?

My husband says that I should say vagina because that's what most people think it is, but if you actually use the correct word it would be vulva.

Vagina is the opening, vulva means the whole area, pubic hair, labia, vagina, etc.

He says vulva sounds too weird, and it's too unknown. But I don't want to teach vagina if that's the wrong term!

Recommendations?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Kate CP - posted on 02/16/2011

8,942

36

758

Uhh...my daughter is 5 years old and has called her vagina a vagina since she could talk. She has never, not ONCE, shouted it out in public. I have never gotten reports about her talking about her vagina or penises at school. She has NEVER shown any one her vagina (except me and her father when she was being goofy and we told her it wasn't appropriate and she stopped). Although, she does think her butt is the funniest thing on the planet. She'll walk into a room, turn around and stick her butt out and say "Do you see my butt?" and then walk out. It's rather hilarious. But I digress...

I don't see how teaching a child a word is going to cause them to become exhibitionists or start shouting the word from the rooftops. And even if they do, that's when you teach them NOT TO.

The idea that never talking about body parts or sex will keep a child from being curious is just...well...flawed. Kids talk about sex with other kids and some kids are more curious than others. Just because it worked for you doesn't mean it'll work for your kids (or any one else's for that matter). It's all about knowing your own kids. I *know* that MY daughter is a curious kid and not talking about sex or body parts as she gets older would be catastrophic. But, that's me and my family.

The fact is this: the more kids know about their bodies and sexual functions and birth control the less likely they are to become pregnant at a young age. Knowledge truly is power in this case.

Merry - posted on 02/18/2011

9,274

169

263

That could be confusing if someone says to your daughter go give that girl a hug!
Or give that guy a high five :/
Or imagine your daughter saying that 'girl' got hurt, is it her vulva? Or her friend? I guess she would have to point or something.

Minnie - posted on 02/16/2011

7,076

9

788

It just works for us. We shower together, I'm still nursing the 2 1/2 year old, and keeping doors open when we're using the toilet helps kiddos become more aware of their bodily functions and where we put our waste.

Merry - posted on 02/16/2011

9,274

169

263

I think it's a shame that kids learn things like sex from their teachers instead of their parents.
Well, since Eric will be home schooled I won't be able to hand over his sex training to his teachers!

111 Comments

View replies by

Merry - posted on 03/20/2011

9,274

169

263

I'd rather there be no 'revelation' moments with him and body parts. I think the shock of learning new terms would be more interesting to a 5 year old then if he just knows it from early on and never has a time where it is a new and exciting word :)
He will think it's old news sooner this way.

Janine - posted on 03/19/2011

82

18

3

strictly speaking the vagina is often misplaced for the outer anatomy of the "vulva" as you stated.. meaning that the vagina technically means in the internal parts of the female. However, it is the most common term and your child later in life may get confused if you use 'vulva" instead of "vagina". Personally, I dont think he needs to know about the female anatomy just quite yet and you may just want to refer to it as a "private part' etc... What you are talking about it something he can learn later in life.. Vagina suffices dont you think for now if you are to label it??

Denise - posted on 02/20/2011

21

0

0

My son is 4 and daughter nearly 3, and we still have showers together. My husband also has baths with them. It never occurred to us that people would think that was odd. What is wrong with them seeing our bodies? I admit they are nothing spectacular to look at, but I'm certainly not ashamed of them. My kids don't think anything of it, in fact at the changing rooms at the swimming pool they are probably the only kids NOT staring at everyone getting changed.

Cori - posted on 02/18/2011

623

20

88

i have a son, we call his privates his "guy" and with our niece and our daughter (on the way) we plan on calling it her "girl"

Anna - posted on 02/18/2011

121

6

18

i grew up in New Zealand and there young children usually get taught to say "fanny". imagine our amusement when we learn that fanny means bottom in America!!! lol it is definitely impotant for children to have a word for their private parts and not feel its something to be ashamed of. i have always hated the words vulva and vagina, so think i will choose another word for my little one. she will learn the correct terms when she is a bit older. i guess it comes down to what we as parents feel comfotable with our kids saying.

Minnie - posted on 02/18/2011

7,076

9

788

Yep if my nearly five year old and 2 1/2 year old girls were boys we still would do everything the same. We all enjoy showering together, it saves time AND water and none of us see a point in hiding things. We're family, I pushed both of them out of my vagina, nursed (and still am) them from my breasts, and so forth.

Merry - posted on 02/18/2011

9,274

169

263

I bathe with my 2 year old son because it's a good way to relax with him happy.
It's comforting on my preggo belly.
He won't play with dad if I go to bathe anyways so he might as well join me if he is sitting right there.
I wash him and myself together to save water.
It saves time not to bathe separately.
It hurts my back to wash him if I'm sitting outside the tub, leaning over with my huge belly.
He is breastfeeding so it's not like he never sees my boobs.

Take your pick!

Sneaky - posted on 02/18/2011

1,170

33

131

Throwing my vote in - vagina. We were calling the whole area 'girly bits' but I decided it was time I grew up . . . . and it was such a classic moment the first time my daughter said vagina in front of my husband - the look on his face was priceless :o)

Stifler's - posted on 02/18/2011

15,141

154

604

I agree with Johnny, vagina is a common term so it doesn't really matter that it isn't anatomically correct but not a stupid one like bajingo or hoo hoo that other people won't get.

Johnny - posted on 02/17/2011

8,686

26

322

We call it vagina, not because it's correct but because it's really the most common word. Vulva just doesn't pop into my head as something to say. When she's a bit older, maybe 4 or 5, and is ready to absorb more in depth conversations, I'll explain the difference to her. Right now, vagina works fine.

Just a note on not using silly names for things. I was friends with this girl in kindergarten who had wetting problems. Her parents had taught her all sorts of uptight terms for bathroom usage, like "I need to void" and "I need the waters" and when she'd ask other adults these things if her parents weren't around, they had no clue what she was talking about at all. So she didn't get to go to the bathroom and would end up peeing herself. I was 5 and I still remember her peeing on the floor at ballet, the desk at school and the outfield at t-ball. So, make sure if you are really uptight to try your best not to pass it down to your kids. It can really mess up their lives.

[deleted account]

I feel that this is an 'each to their own' decision- whatever works for you and yr hubby. But I'm with Lisa M on the communal nudity. Although we're not all naked 24/7 in our house, we bathe/shower together and we dont insist the children leave the room if we are getting changed etc. I also agree toilet-training is easier when they see how it's all supoosed to work. I also personally think it helps 'demystify' the differences between genders for children, if they can see things for themselves. That said I do have stepsons and myself and them are obviously not naked around each other. But they have had baths/ showers with their little siblings with my hubby's supervision.

Merry - posted on 02/16/2011

9,274

169

263

Yeah, I was surprised that Eric asked what it was! It took me a minute to decide what to answer, but at first I just said it was hair, as that was the obvious part he saw.
But then the little stinker pointed a bit lower and asked 'penis?' so I had to say no, and he says again 'this?' so I said vulva.
Then he moved on to my knees, feet, toes, and made rounds of all my body parts.
He's quite inquisitive, and persistent too :)
I had thought he wouldn't ask til he was a bit older, but this happened when he was 20 months!

Sherri - posted on 02/16/2011

9,593

15

391

He sounds more interested then mine heck my a 4 1/2 yr old still showers with me and could care less. He has boobies, I have boobies, He has a peepee, I have a peepee too just a little different then his. He really never questioned it. Although I never had to explain the birthing process really either since none of mine were allowed to be there when their siblings were born (my choice). They can learn about such things when they have children of their own.

Merry - posted on 02/16/2011

9,274

169

263

Oh, and he needs to be toilet trained one day, so in preparation for that he has always come in with me while I use the bathroom, and now I'm trying to teach him that we go pee and poop in the toilet, so his body, my body, it's all related to the end goal of his toilet training as well.

I'm not super specific, I'm not saying urine and feces and anus, but since penis is an easy choice to call his, I'm not going to call mine something weird or made up.

Also with a sister coming soon I'm certain he will ask about her lack of penis and it's good for him to know differences between boys and girls.

It's not as easy as when I was little and we just thought boys had short hair and girls have long hair!

Eric already has longer hair then his 2 female friends so that doesn't quite work :)

Merry - posted on 02/16/2011

9,274

169

263

To clarify once more, Eric is almost 2, and he knows the word for s penis, and he asks what I have down there when we take a bath.
I have been saying vulva and Eric knows that term already. But matt thinks I should say vagina.
Hense the question!
Eric knows about 25 body parts already and he doesn't think any more or less about his penis then his other parts.
He knows that my body is just like his except he notices that I have boobs, and no penis! And hair down there too :)
He watched the birth documentary by rikki lake and he was quite interested that the baby came out of the mom. He also announced that babies need boobs too!
He's a smart boy and I think there's nothing wrong with teaching real body part names.
He will have the option to watch his sister born this may shortly after his second birthday. And if he wants to be there it's a good thing he knows the name for where his sister came out of so he knows it's not scary or wrong.
Thanks for the input everyone, I can't say I have decided which term to use, but I think I just need to talk to matt more and figure it out.

[deleted account]

We call it a vagina. I also call it "their business". i.e. cover your business. do your business in the bathroom, etc. I call their butt their butt, at times however most of the time I call it their tuckus (tuck--us) or tuckee

Charlie - posted on 02/16/2011

11,203

111

409

We call it a vagina if and when they want to learn more in depth about anatomy they can learn the individual names of parts but I suspect it won't be for a while ... he is only two .

Sherri - posted on 02/16/2011

9,593

15

391

I agree in the end it doesn't matter what you call it as long as it works for you and your family. Call it by its proper name, use a pet name but still teach them the correct terminology. It really in the end gets you to the same place. Eh small potatoes.

Alecia - posted on 02/16/2011

644

21

45

there weren't any surprises (except that "A Child is Born video. Nothing prepares you to have to watch that in class).



HAHAHAHAHA...that is soooo true!!!

Victoria - posted on 02/16/2011

60

20

0

I love my mother's philosophy. Fill them is as the mature. We always talked about the pee-pee with the little siblings. Then when they got old enough to know "penis" or "vagina" (between 2-4 depending on the kids) they learned that word for the correct gender. But they were also told you don't talk about that with everyone.

As far as the rest of the sex information. I remember being taught that sex was sacred, not secret. So we could ask Mom any questions we wanted and go the answers. But Sex wasn't something that you just walk around discussing with anybody. By the time my siblings and I got to Sex Ed classes, there weren't any surprises (except that "A Child is Born video. Nothing prepares you to have to watch that in class).

In response to the original question- I don't think it matters what you teach your daughter to say. I'm glad you want to teach her what the correct term is. I much prefer that to "hoo-ha" or "muffy".

Alecia - posted on 02/16/2011

644

21

45

i wouldnt correct my daughter if she said belly rather than uterus. lol cuz im sure she will. but i would say thats where the baby is when i talk about it. she doesnt need to be correct all the time, but the more i am the more normal it is (and should be imo)

Amy - posted on 02/16/2011

4,793

17

376

sometimes i wish we did, lisa! But a boy and a girl and my son saw my boobs and was trying to nurse or "push the button". lol. So...no. Daddy's never naked around them because he feels his daughter doesn't need to see parts. I'm usually not ever naked because i'm always cold. lol

but really, we shut doors when we go to the bathroom and I've always been able to use the restroom without guests. They know I don't take long and will be right out.

Amy - posted on 02/16/2011

4,793

17

376

My daughter's seen a birth [just turned 4] and didn't ask about parts. She just goes..."is that the baby's head? Is there blood because it's ouchy? Awe, cute baby when he's not yucky." Eh. It's just not something that I ever thought about before. My daughter is asking to be in the room when I deliver if it's not when she's sleeping. She also looks on the babycenter.com and sees where the baby is inside. She keeps saying it's in my tummy. I'm not going to go all gung ho and say, no no, he's in my uterus. why sweat the small stuff?

Alecia - posted on 02/16/2011

644

21

45

I agree with Laura and theresa that i would rather teach my kids about sex than have the school do it. dont get me wrong, i think those classes can be useful, especially to parents who dont talk about sex at home ;) and by sex i mean anything related. like i said im ttc, and when i give birth i want my daughter in the room and hopefully she will be less than 3 yrs old when i have my next. i will tell her where the baby is growing and where it comes out...in a way that she can understand. she doesnt need to know anything about sex or a mans penis at that point, but i am not going to say the stork brings babies. starting the discussion early and giving her appropiate information will let her know she can trust me and ask me questions whenever she needs to.

Amy - posted on 02/16/2011

4,793

17

376

I have one too, my kids don't see me naked. Just wondering. Even if I sit to pee and they walk in, the are asked to get out and no one's staring at my crotch..er vulva. lol.

[deleted account]

Your kids are 4 and 6. Fine. While I do feel that they need to know proper body part names before that age... I don't think they necessarily need to know about sex at that age. I have 9 year olds though who WILL be around kids that ARE having sex when they start 6th grade.... in only a year and a half. THAT is the position that I am coming at this from, so perhaps you will be the one that thinks differently when your kids are actually older.... or maybe not. ;)

Amy - posted on 02/16/2011

4,793

17

376

I'm backing up here a minute. Why does a 3 year old boy need to know what to call it if he's not seeing it?

Brandi - posted on 02/16/2011

406

40

5

My kids can learn it from their teacher, they are more educated in that area anyway. I will be glad to talk to them about it, when I feel it is appropriate. I'm sorry you think it is a shame, but maybe in a few years you will look at it differently, I don't know. But, I am happy with my decision and my mother's decision to wait to talk to me about it. @Laura, I will be talking to my kids about it, just not at 4 and 6. I am not leaving it all up to the teachers. There is a time and place for everything, and I agree with AMY on the stage thing, great idea.

Amy - posted on 02/16/2011

4,793

17

376

sex training just sounds weird. lol.

I knew nothing but pads and diagrams from school. My mom taught me about disease, pregnancy, how a child at a young age can impact your life, how it is something special [sex] that shouldn't be shared with just anyone. She taught me more than any school ever could. Yes, it's my job to teach my children. And I will also teach it at a time I feel it's needed/wanted.

[deleted account]

Yeah, because I really want to leave something as critical as my children's lives up to the school to teach? I'm their parent. It's MY job to inform my kids. I feel it is EVERY parents job to inform their kids, but unfortunately.... some parents refuse to do their job which is WHY we even HAVE sex ed in schools in the first place.

Brandi - posted on 02/16/2011

406

40

5

OK... Well kids have a class about it. I think that is the appropriate time to learn it, and then they can feel free to ask me anything they want to know.

But, good for you and your beliefs.

[deleted account]

Oh... and my 9 year olds have never talked about their vaginas or their brother's penis w/ anyone outside of our immediate family (or the doctor) because they do know that those areas are private. Knowing the right name doesn't change that in any way...... My son was also obsessed w/ his penis way before he actually knew what it was and I'm pretty sure he would still be obsessed w/ it regardless of what anyone calls it.

[deleted account]

I just read where Brandi says that if you have no knowledge of it you will have no desire to do it (not your exact words, I know). I strongly disagree. Kids here are having sex and doing drugs in the 6th grade!! My girls will be 10.5 when they start 6th grade and it freaks me out. I feel that knowledge is power though and if they KNOW enough about sex and it's consequences..... they will be LESS likely to engage in behavior that could very well end their lives (either literally (drug overdose or AIDS) or figuratively (drop out, jail, or pregnancy)).

Amy - posted on 02/16/2011

4,793

17

376

I hope I don't upset a friend of mine - totally stealing her words. She said she will teach her kids in stages. Privates now, other parts when they get older or ask specifically what is that. "you have to learn cat in the hat before macbeth". I loved that. Again, there is no right or wrong, but personal preference. I believe in being honest, but I think there is a time and place for everything. I know how my kids would be and that's why we do things how we do. Again, words used have no impact on sexual activity in later years.

[deleted account]

I also vote for vagina. My 21 month old knows where her vagina is only she calls it "mine-a." Can't quite get out the whole world. I firmly believe in teaching the proper words.

Brandi - posted on 02/16/2011

406

40

5

no, I didn't.. and I would appreciate you NOT putting words in my mouth. I said that it helped ME. In my opinion it does help. I never said anything about your kids, so how about you stop pushing your ideas, and get your facts straight before you post again, heh?

Denise - posted on 02/16/2011

21

0

0

Geez brandi, dont get yer knickers in a knot. You may not have said I shouldn't teach my kids that, BUT you did say if I taught my kids the correct words for their body parts then they will turn into sex craved nymphomaniacs.

Brandi - posted on 02/16/2011

406

40

5

Just because you don't doesn't mean her kids or my kids won't. You are very opinionated, but not open to what other people say. You think you are the only one that is right and that your opinion is the only one that needs to be heard.

We said that is how we feel for our family, and how we were raised. We didn't say NO DENISE YOU SHOULDN'T TEACH THAT TO YOUR KIDS!

Denise - posted on 02/16/2011

21

0

0

oh dear Amy, just because you know the name of something doesn't mean you are going to go around talking about it. I surely don't go around talking about my elbow because I know the word.

Amy - posted on 02/16/2011

4,793

17

376

no one. That's why I don't get why it's a big deal. People I know even adults don't go around talking about their vagina/vulva. lol

Denise - posted on 02/16/2011

21

0

0

"I need something to catch the blood leaking from my vagina".

lmao....who talks like that?

Amy - posted on 02/16/2011

4,793

17

376

None of my friends talked about their parts and I didn't deal with anything down there until I had a period -at like, 14 years old. I heard people ask about borrowing a pad, but not "I need something to catch the blood leaking from my vagina". We were tactful and quiet about those things. Even in 5th grade we were taken to another room and given that class "talk" and everyone looked at each other like, why do we need to be doing this NOW?

No, I did not have sex at an early age. We constantly talked [mother and I] after movies, events in life, etc where sex came up what the end results of sex could be. I didn't think it was worth it. didn't interest me until I met my husband. I was out of school and engaged before I was sexually active.

Knowing or not knowing correct terms have nothing to do with how much respect you have for your body.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms