What to call private parts?

Keirsten - posted on 04/01/2012 ( 348 moms have responded )

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I got directed to this site while looking for the answer to this question and ended up joining because I couldn't find the answer. We call his penis his winky. Don't worry he will know the correct term later. He is only 15 months. The question I'm really asking is what to call his testicals. He recently got a rash from teething and some people have asked where it is. I feel uncomfortable saying testicals or balls. I simply don't feel he is old enough for either term. My mother-in-law is so vulgar & she calls them his balls and it drives me crazy! What should we call them? If you have terms in other languages (that are appropriate) I would appreciate those to. Thanks

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Welcome Keirsten. You're going to get a variety of differing opinions on this site, and some women ar emore passionate on this issue than others. For me, I taught my son his correct body parts from an early age. Penis and testicles. That's the correct name. When my some was a toddler, he went though a phase calling his penis a "pee-pee" but I always continued to call it by the proper name. I really don't understand why someone would be uncomfortable with using proper anatomical terminology. Testicles are testicles. My son is 7, and has always known is body parts even though he has picked up on the slang and "balls" just bring giggles and potty mouth language. Please don't be uncomfortable becaus your son will grow up feeling uncomfortable or even ashamed of his body parts. Same with cutsie nicknames- the sooner you use the proper words the better. Good luck to you.

Jodi - posted on 04/01/2012

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It's not vulgar to call them by the correct names. I've always just used the correct terms. I don't see the issue. But that's me.



However, I do feel that it is important that children feel comfortable using the correct terms from a young age too. Research has shown that a high level of comfort with the correct terms is important with respect to child abuse, and can also be important in later in life with regard to self-esteem and sexuality.

[deleted account]

Call them testicles, but the rash wouldn't be on the testicles.... since those are internal. The rash is on the scrotum. ;)



My 4 year old son has never been told any different (though he HAS heard balls too).

Johnny - posted on 04/01/2012

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What would I call testicles? Testicles. But then I would also call a penis a penis. It is a body part, not some sort of weird icky thing. When exactly is "old enough" to know the anatomical names for your own body parts? It isn't some sort of X rated information.



My daughter was taught the proper names for her body parts from the start. She wasn't able to say vagina, but called it her "gina" for a long time. Now she can say vagina and urethra and she knows they aren't the same. We haven't gone into more details yet, about her vulva or mentioned her clitoris, but she is only 3 1/2 and there is no point in confusing her. But I can not see how a boy knowing that he has a penis that he can urinate from and testicles would be at all confusing. And aside from going beyond their comprehension ability, I can not understand any good, logical reason why you would not want your children to understand their own bodies and how to refer to them properly?



You should also know that many sexual assault prevention educators strongly suggest that it is important for your children to know what the real names are for their body parts. For example, a parent might not understand what a child is saying if they tell you someone touched their muffin. Not to mention, f your child knows what it is really called, they at least have the proper words to communicate health problems to yourself, their educators, or a health care provider.

Kate CP - posted on 04/02/2012

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Testicles and penis is what we use here. My daughter has a vagina and breasts. The butt is the butt.



Knees are knees...ears are ears...eyes are eyes.



No shame in the body. It is what it is.

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348 Comments

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Sierra - posted on 05/17/2012

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Penis, Vagina, and Butt are correct terms. Nothing wrong with using those words as long as you teach your child to use them appropriately.

Determined - posted on 05/17/2012

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My husband and I are currently debating this. I have been referring to my daughters parts and her vagina and my husabnd wants it to be Va-J-J because that is what his mom and two sisters refer to it as. I think Va-J-J is more vulgar than vagina honestly. I'm sticking with the proper terms I am a SAHM so she learns 90% of things for me so I feel like I get the final say on this one. There is nothing wrong with proper names or even nicknames if they're logical (no twinkie, etc), but it is important that children do know the proper names.

Julie - posted on 05/15/2012

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I personally don't have a problem using the correct terms no matter what the age of the child, but I realize others I may be talking to may be offended. So I usually just say he has a diaper rash and people get the idea.

Kerry - posted on 05/14/2012

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I totally agree with Sapphire. There is nothing vulgar about our body parts, therefore teaching our children the right names from the start would be best and not to mention less confusing for them. My daughter new her body parts "the right" names from a very tender age, because she started asking questions such as, "what is that daddy have" /:)

Krista - posted on 04/18/2012

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Thanks for all of your responses, ladies. I'm sure that the OP has lots of options now.

Krista E.
WTCOM Moderator

Stephanie - posted on 04/18/2012

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If you use the correct terms for his genitaks now then there will be no confusion on his part later when you try to teach him. We have always referred to our son's genital as penis and testicals.

Stephanie - posted on 04/18/2012

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If you use the correct terms for his genitaks now then there will be no confusion on his part later when you try to teach him. We have always referred to our son's genital as penis and testicals.

Silvia - posted on 04/18/2012

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We told our son to use the correct term (he's three). I was a little uncomfortable at first with him announcing he has to get his penis out to go potty in a public restroom but my husband assured me it's best he knows the right word for it early on. He works in Psychology and has also told me that in some cases it can turn sex predators off when they use the correct words. I used a nickname when I was little but I suppose things are different now and I am ok with him knowing what to call his private parts.

Hanjo - posted on 04/17/2012

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I suppose you can get alot of words to use, but I will just say it is his "privates'...and that is it. I am sure everyone knows where you private parts is and it also teaches him that it is exactly that, his private body parts. Hope that helps.

Regina - posted on 04/17/2012

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I have definitley said ding a ling! Wee, wee, pee pee, wanker, pecker, etc. etc. My son calls his butt a bunny! My son's school asked that he not use the word penis. I think to them it was too official and I just said ok!! I guess the fact that he mentioned any word pertaining to his genitalia bothered them!

Merry - posted on 04/17/2012

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My perfectly innocent child is very unaffected by the word penis,

Contrary to common concerN, children don't immediately burst into flames when they hear the word penis.

Calling it a dng a ling is really really unusual IMO.

I've never heard that term and I'd never imagine it meant penis.

It's really crippling to kids to Instill such shame.

Regina - posted on 04/17/2012

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Sorry Sherri, my 9 year old niece went through this at 4 1/2 and no one cares what she called/calls them just that her mother was so lazy, depressed and ill equipped to take care of such an adorable little girl. She was shy, insecure and needy! I tell her now that NO ONE is to undress her, touch her or put their parts on her which is some of what we now know happened so far. As she is part of Victims of Violence I am sure more will come out!! Just have your children grp to be independent, self thinkers that are not vulnerable!!

Regina - posted on 04/17/2012

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I am confused by Cherie's post. If a 2 year old cannot point to a diagram then how the heck would he be able to say penis, testicles or scrotum. I just asked my 5 year old if he knew he had testicles and he said yes but that word is so big and silly so he would rather call them something else. I am not going to scare my 5 year old into saying anything! He just knows that no one is to go near them and if they do come tell mom or another adult at school or whereever!

User - posted on 04/17/2012

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Ladies if my answer has offended anyone I am sorry, But a child should be told good and bad touching. yet at what point do you lose their innocence. there are tried and true names for private
parts. A girl is made of sugar and spice and everything nice. a Boy is made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails. or girls have a wee wee. and boys have a ding a ling. geez this isn't rocket science. we are talking giving them as much innocence as we possibly can in todays world. But you also need to let them know what is good. and bad.

User - posted on 04/17/2012

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he has jingle bells,Ok so many will understand He has a ding-a-ling and jinglebells. it is not nasty. and there is song about just this thing. My ding -a -ling and no one will look at you wrong. if others ask he has jingle bells in a string.

Sandra - posted on 04/17/2012

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Can you imagine having a meaningful discussion about sex with a pre-teen/early teen about sex with made-up names. First the wee-wee gets stiff and then the male puts it in the who-ha. Seriously? Why would that be taken seriously? Or if you don't wear a condom on you pee-pee, you could get herpes. Would we also say, okay girls, don't let him stick his 'thingy' in your coo-coo or a baby might get in there? Wow. At what magic age does a wee-wee become a penis. Or can we just acknowledge that they are penises and vaginas? But chances are that parents who are too embarrassed to say penis to their 4 yr old, won't be having meaningful talks about intercourse, condoms, etc. because it doesn't get easier. we set the tone now.

Sarah - posted on 04/17/2012

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I agree with Sherri as well....my 2yo is more than capable of telling me that he has an owie penis...

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 04/17/2012

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Oh for crying out loud.

Keirsten, your son has a penis, scrotum and testes. As well as breasts and nipples, just in case anyone is wondering.

Now, at 15 months, winkie is a universal term mainly used for boys, as is peepee.

In slang it is referred to as a gentleman's sausage, or peter and the twins, or...you name it.

But, seriously? When he starts asking just tell him the truthful, anatomical names for the body parts. You have no idea how embarrassing it is for a grown man to refer to his penis as his "wetter", because my mother was too embarrassed to teach them PENIS.

Oh, and those posters who said that its easier to teach them if you're not embarrassed yourself are correct. If you are upset and embarrassed about the human body, then your kids will be embarrassed and upset about the human body.

My boys, 14 & 17, have always known the proper terminology. I was a bit amused, however, when my eldest (16 at the time) was treated for a crushed urethra. The nurses were SUPER CUTE...and my son is super modest. He TRIED to say penis. But he couldn't. He just could not get that word past his lips. He settled on "unit". Considering that they all knew which "unit" on his body was being treated, they understood. Then one of the cute little nurses (ok, these girls were downright HOT) told him that she'd seen 'em all, but if he liked, she'd paint anything on him that she HADN'T seen bright green and call THAT his penis. He had no problem with saying penis after that. I think it took her letting him know, "hey, I'm a professional, it's ok" and taking that "cute girl" right out of the picture. But, that's the only time he's ever had trouble referring to his parts correctly...and I couldn't blame him for being flustered in the presence of some very attractive young ladies...after all, he was taught that it's not something for mixed conversation.

Sandra - posted on 04/17/2012

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if we don't use proper names now with no shame, how can we use proper names later? Teaching my children proper names when they were younger has made talks about periods and sex and maturing so much easier and more natural for me and for them. my son had a penis when he was born and he has one now. No reason to hide behind made up names. If they see shyness and uncomfortableness in you (and they will see it) then that is what they will feel both about their bodies and about talking to you about them.

Cheri - posted on 04/17/2012

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OK well, you say that but (THANK GOD) you never had to have them do it, so you wouldn't know. I'm not trying to be rude, but MOST 2 yo's are not ready to start pointing out diagrams and knowing what they're looking at or what they mean...they just aren't. We can all pretend we have genius children, but the average, everyday 2yo isn't comprehensively ready to do this at that age. You just can't say that you "know" they could have. Again, they weren't in that situation. Many blessings that they weren't. I'm also sorry that you WERE. I'm not going to argue any further about it because I know that if my child every God-forbid had a situation, they'll know exactly how to respond.

Sherri - posted on 04/17/2012

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They can't point on a diagram to where they were hurt Cheri? I disagree my 2yr olds certainly could have, they certainly wouldn't have been able to probably articulate exactly what occurred but they certainly could have pointed to where they had been hurt.

Cheri - posted on 04/17/2012

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Adrianne-I didn't bring it up. I responded to YOUR weird posts! I STILL cannot even make 1/2 of what you said out anyway so gave up.

Sherri - posted on 04/17/2012

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Trust me if they ever get hurt sexually and have to go to the police they don't actually need to know the proper terms. They are given diagrams where they are asked to point to the parts that were touched or violated and then asked to give their acct. of what happened. How do I know this? I am a victim of sexual molestation and this is what I had to do. Never did I ever have to even refer to any parts as anything and I was 14yrs old. I only had to point to the diagram to the areas. So as long as they know the proper terminology, they can call them what ever they please and are comfortable with. It hurts no one and honestly is no ones business.

Kathleen - posted on 04/17/2012

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I have boy/girl twins and never had a need to call them anything til they asked why they were different. When they were close to 3 my daughter asked what her brother had. I just told her that boys have a penis and girl don't. She started calling it a peanut. As they got older and the need came up because of washing or just them asking, We just told them what they are. When they older I sat them down and told them all the parts. We just continued that with our singleton daughter as she grew up. I think it's up to you and your family. I know parents can be a pain when you decide to do something and don't think you're right. So if you call them what they want to, to keep the peace or some other name or the medical terms it's up to you.

Melanie - posted on 04/17/2012

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I work in a Juvenile Court so perhaps have a rather black and white approach to these sorts of things. Growing up, my parents did as well. Call them by their proper medical term, yes, it is awkward at first - but in the long run can only help your child. If your child is with others, and needs help with something, it takes out the guess work on the other adults side. This is not only for scary reasons, but also can assist with day to day issues. My nephew had chicken pox all over when he was quite young and was able to articulate he had them on his penis and it was causing discomfort - it saved the time of guess work immediately and we were able to get him some lotion to take away some of the discomfort. Also, on the extremely scary side, if you child is trying to tell another adult that they have been violate - the adult will know instantly that something is wrong and be in a better position to assist.

Sarah - posted on 04/17/2012

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In my opinion it is never inappropriate to refer to a child's privates as anything other than what they are.....It doesn't matter how difficult the word is, a child should know the proper name for his/her parts right from the start, instead of refering to them in these cutesy and rather nauseating words. This way, God forbid it ever happens...but if they need to speak to a police officer or medical professional for any reason for any kind of assault or misconduct, there will be no doubt whatsoever as to what they are talking about or refering to. A good example of this is that I just found out that apparently a penis is referred to as a bird....I did not know this. I have only ever heard a vagina referred to as a bird. THUS confusion.

Gousia - posted on 04/17/2012

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well we called his penis- pee pee pipe and his anus poo poo pipe lol
one day he just happened to ask me - mom what is this- pointing to his srotum it just came out eemmmm that ur pe pee bag- he will grow up to learn the words eventually !

LuLu - posted on 04/17/2012

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I too have always used proper terminology when talking to my son about his body. He has always known them to be his penis and testicles and scrotum sacks. It wasnt until he went to kindergarten that he started using the term "balls". I was kind of shocked when I first heard him saying it, but I tried to correct him and tell him that he should call them by what he knows. I believe if you use proper terminology from the start, he will be comfortable in discussing issues with his developing body as he grows.

Robyn - posted on 04/17/2012

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My little girl has a dune, that is pronounced Dun-ee. That is her Vagina but sometimes I call it a woska, a fairy or a wee wee. Her butt is 'dot' or bum bum or just butt. Sometimes it is actually buttocks too.

My mom tought me Wee wee for my vagina and I was uncomfortable to use the 'Right' term. I am not so much now as an adult.......I call it va-jayjay now more then anything but not to my daughter.
I hope some of these answers are helpful, I know some woman can get very nasty, but don't take it personal, they just have a voice and an opinion and we all have a right to that :)

Julie - posted on 04/16/2012

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Oh, and people: why be so strict about only using medical terminology? How many of us refer to pains in the posterior region of our lumbar spine? Or pruritic epidermis on the distal extremities? Lighten up. I bet you allow your kids to call their grandmothers "Nana."

Regina - posted on 04/16/2012

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I agree Julie. Why be so serious and uptight about it!? Know the true names in due time but 15 months is young and call them whatever you want in the interim! I am an A cup and my son has told me I have big boobs, love it. He does not know any better!!

Julie - posted on 04/16/2012

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Let's just remember that if you're gonna be anatomically correct about this, the vagina is on the inside. The external portion of female genitalia is the vulva. Why does everybody call it the vagina?!

In our house we give all terms equal opportunity. My boys know penis and testicles and scrotum first and foremost, but we also refer to the pee-pee, weiner, ball-sack, family jewels, ding-a-ling, twig and berries,...you get the idea. There's nothing wrong with celebrating the flexibility the English language offers us. How cool is it that these amazing, magical, mystical "parts" have all these fun names? No shame here. Kids are sponges; they won't get confused.

Regina - posted on 04/16/2012

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Adrianne, are you just an ego centric spaz or is this my imagination??? Some children; boys and girls are born out of wed lock which does not in turn mean it was done intentionally and I am presuming by your last name that you are of European descent?? As my family name is Knoch/en. Why put anyone down? Americans? Europeans? Single parents? Etc.? Where do you get your better than thou status?? I think most women and parents try to do what is best for their family, their children. We all try our best and we all do it diferently. I am in the education field and my son has called it his pee pee, wee wee and now penis. Who cares as long as they know it is private and no one can/should touch it!!?? I was raised by a German woman so we have no issues with nudity, public breast feeding, nude beaches, etc., BUT I also do not believe in dating while in high school or before the age of 18. No one says that calling your private parts is minimizing! You obviously need some type of therapy and have had a rough childhood, so dramatic. Some women breast eed until their children are 4 or 5 and I thing that is crazy but there will be an entire army of women that would say that is great. And then there is the whole home schooling debate and whether or not children should or should not attend preschool. Mothers could argue and debate every issue. Try and be as honest and as forthcoming with your children as you can. I have a son who has never met his father! Try dealing with that one! I am sure you would have a field day with that!! I have to think of how to be honest but gentle to a 5 year old when his father lives in a 2 million $ home 7 miles from our house and has never seen him and refuses pictures, etc!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Think about others before your mouth lests loose! We all have diferent up bringings and differt situations!!

Heather - posted on 04/16/2012

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Adrianne- Seriously? Sounds like your super religious and believes in complete modesty ugh? It's plain and simple the reason (generally) why Americans find issues with modesty is b/c they sexualize everything it's our culture and something that needs to be done a way with. Case in point what to call genitalia? People are uncomfortable with proper terms b/c of the sexualization of America. However, in other countries this is not the case. They don't make it into a big sexual deal..I grew up in Germany introduced to nude/ topless beaches as a child and never thought twice about it being sexual until I moved back to the US and discovered such disgust and sexualization over public nudity. i am sad you have the point of view you do!

Diane - posted on 04/16/2012

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Twig and berries; peeper (penis); sac (testicles); pepe (penis). I think the technical terms are fine at any age though!

Chrissy - posted on 04/16/2012

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We call them boy parts. I have two girls and the three of us have girl parts and daddy has boy parts. It keeps the whole area defined and is factual.

Michele - posted on 04/16/2012

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Oh my Teresa....kids do say the darndest things...that being said....your children are probably enjoying your reaction as much as anything. Try having a talk with them and tell them that there is a time/place to use those words and maybe use the reward system to encourage them not to use them in public...tell them if they don't use those words while you are out they get a star on a reward chart and after so many stars they will get a treat...and as hard as it is...don't react and maybe when they see you aren't affected by it they will give up on their own...gl.....I would still recommend using proper terms but each parent has to do whats right for them...

Jacob - posted on 04/16/2012

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I always called my kids body parts by their correct names .

i feel they should know the right names and to not feel shamed about their bodies

Tina - posted on 04/16/2012

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No, I couldn't disagree with you more. I have always used the "proper" terminology when it comes to my sons body parts, he is now 6 years old. Why not, that is what the medical staff says as well. I read your post outloud to my mom and husband and we all agree that "balls" are what a child plays with, not his testicles and we too feel that is inappropriate to say.

Adrianne - posted on 04/16/2012

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You missed Cheri's comments I suppose, I responded on point, to them, she brought up the Euro mindset, public nudity, etc.

Regards private parts, there's a reason they call them "private."

Call them what you will.

Alayne - posted on 04/16/2012

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As a child, no one ever taught me ANY terminology for my private parts until I was older. I knew the technical terms for a few things, but they were not words we actually used. This has made me uncomfortable my whole life any time I had to refer to private parts, even in college anatomy or at the doctor's office. I'm just glad people teach their children SOMETHING. Personally, I think either the medical term or a variation of it is best. Testies sounds a good compromise.

Cheri - posted on 04/16/2012

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OK. Adrianne-



IDK what to even make of any of that. The question isn't about whether or not this mom wants to protect her child....she had a question about what to call a body part. She doesn't care what people do in Europe or doesn't and I doubt she's abusing her child, and nowhere did I see anyone say in ANY post that I can find that because we say to call a body part what it is, that we intend to "let it all hang out" or that anyone is forcing any kind of abuse on their children or that we're not thinking of their best interest or that we're minimizing any of their body parts. To even suggest those things with those ramblings I'm STILL trying to make sense of, is ludicrous! ou can tell a child they have a penis and STILL tell them to cover up if that's what you want to do. No one is suggesting a 14 yo wear thongs or other sexually suggestive things NOR am I seeing how a 5yo should be watching those types of ads anyway. Where did you see that?



For me to judge an entirely different culture because they are nudists? That would be wrong of me. I can't for certain say that I am a better parent because I wear clothes and they can't say they're better because they don't. No one really knows.None of us can really attest to anything in another country anyway. WE ARE NOT THERE! And reading about it isn't enough.

Karen - posted on 04/16/2012

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Haha we call my son's (now 5) privates his Twinkie (since he was a baby) and he named his testicales himself...he was putting lotion on when he was about 3 and he had his leg on the tub and his hand touched it (and they had just started to decend) and he asked what these (bubbles) are...we still call them that...since school he has used balls but mostly still says bubbles...lol...they will learn the proper name eventually I just don't feel a child should use penis and or scrotum/testicles....too grown up of words...

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