When is it age appropriate to reveal the right names for private parts?

Nicholette - posted on 09/28/2011 ( 212 moms have responded )

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Hi there,

My daughter is now 6 and we still refer to her private parts as 'Gogga' or 'Tolly' when is the appropriate age to be told the right names of the privates?!

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Krista - posted on 09/28/2011

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We've used the correct anatomical names right from birth, for the most part. My son is 2, and we call his penis a penis. We call his testicles "balls", as "testicles" is a bit much to try to pronounce when you're 2.

I would urge you to teach her the proper names right away. Heaven forbid, what if someone was hurting her, and she wasn't comfortable telling you, but told a teacher, "so-and-so kissed my tolly"? The teacher would probably think that someone had kissed her dolly and would say, "Isn't that nice?"

I'm assuming you don't make up cutesy euphemisms for her nose or her elbow, so why do it for her genitals?

Merry - posted on 09/28/2011

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We fall back on 'privates' if it's an uncomfortable situation.
But I'd hope that with nonchalantly using the real words our kids wouldn't think there's anything embarrassing about saying the real words.

[deleted account]

No school or daycare worth anything is going to punish a child for saying the word penis or vagina. Yelling it out... maybe, but they'd be punished equally for yelling out any other word.

Naming a body part doesn't put any unnecessary focus on it. Does your kid go around yelling the word nose?

Do whatever you want w/ your kid, but a lot of the reasonings I'm hearing in this post make absolutely zero sense.

Krista - posted on 10/01/2011

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thats the problem in this world today people will not allow babies be babies, children be children cause you putting to many & much burden on them

Funny. My two-year-old knows he has a penis. And yet, strangely enough, he still appears to be enjoying his childhood, and I have yet to find him sobbing in the corner, overwhelmed by the crushing burden of knowing the name of the body part that he pees out of.

Kelly - posted on 09/29/2011

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NOW! I'm sorry I'm a nurse & the cute little names irritate me. Every body part has a proper name & it's not a bad word. My child has called it a penis since he could talk. He is going to b 4 in November & it's always been a penis. I have grown woman ready to deliver a baby & can't say the word vagina. Drives me wild!

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Sherri - posted on 10/01/2011

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No I wouldn't actually punish them for saying the word as long as they weren't being inappropriate about it.

[deleted account]

I can see that since I'm 'nervous' about using penis w/ my nephew and the boy I watch... since they don't use that word, but I'm just saying I can't see a daycare actually punishing a child for using the word penis. YOU may not use it w/ your kids, but would you punish one of your charges for saying it... assuming a punishment wouldn't be 'needed' for the circumstances surrounding their use of the word?

Sherri - posted on 10/01/2011

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@Teresa here it is recommended the preschools just say privates. They are discouraged from using anything else. They will not refer to it by proper names. For the comfort of the children, parents and staff.

Laurie - posted on 10/01/2011

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well whatever they say it is like the previous post states.. you are their parents and what is most comfortable for your family. Besides, alot depends on your community and what influences you have on you. Most important do what you think is best.

Laurie - posted on 10/01/2011

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it really is just that it puts a focus on a body part before it is necessary. That is all I am saying. If your child is in school or daycare and yells out vagina or penis they are gonna be in trouble but if they are talking about a "bug" or "tutu" it doesn't bring much attention to it.

Shana'e - posted on 10/01/2011

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Nicholette, call it what YOUR household is comfortable with. Call it what your CHILD is comfortable with. Call it what your HUSBAND is comfortable with. Tell your child what the correct terms are, but having 'nick names' that EVERYONE is comfortable with is O K. It really is. And any authority figure, whether it be a teacher or school nurse, will know what the child is talking about. And if for some reason they are not sure....they will call and ask you. There are a lot of good suggestions on here that should help you make that decision...on when to tell a child the correct terms. But, no matter what everyone else thinks.....you and your hubby will just 'know' when the right time is. There are 6 year olds, that I've seen that act like my 2 year old. And there are 6 year olds that act like their 10 years old. You have to consider when your childs in school, too. I guarantee that a least half of the other students wont know what a vulva is and I'm sorry, but if my kindergartener came home and asked what her vulva was??......my first question would be...where did you here that word?? LOVE Circle of Mom's...Love all your suggestions.... :)

[deleted account]

Uterus. I have used tummy/belly at times cuz it seems 'shorter', but all 3 of my kids have heard the word uterus. My girls knew at 3 how they got out of Mommy (c-section) and at 5 how most babies get out (their 'auntie' was pregnant).

Natasha - posted on 10/01/2011

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LOL... i laughed at the belly thing as well... The doctors ect said you should tell them they are in the uterus....which i think is too much for a younger child.... my friend came over and we told him she had a baby in her belly, then my son started trying to look down her shirt lol I think we will stick with pregant belly as well..

Sherri - posted on 10/01/2011

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Where in heavens name do you tell them babies are in your body because I tell everyone they are in my tummy. Nobody thinks I ate them. That makes me laugh.

My older two know because they were taught in school but at home they still refer to it as my pregnant belly. My 5yr old has ZERO need to know at his age. I also will not be explaining to him how this baby will be born either.

Natasha - posted on 10/01/2011

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Circle of moms just recently sent out an email about this subject. I agree with what they had to say.... you should tell children what their parts are called right from the beginning. Vangina and penis. Stick with smaller names eg. if your child asks where babies come from..don't say in mommys belly because then they think you ate a baby..use the real words, but smaller ones... penis and vagina are fine and wait until they are older to use vulva, ect... it's important that they know that nobody should touch their private parts and that they are private. Also, it's important that children know that they shouldn't run around daycare ect..saying penis or vagina. happy teaching

Christine - posted on 10/01/2011

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My son has heard his Penis refered to as such, since day one. He knows it is called his penis. I have informed him (now age 3) that a woman has a vagina instead of a penis, he has known the women's genitalia since he was 2 and first asked what I had, since it wasn't the same as his. He also has his own names for things, but we have not sheltered him from the anatomical names.

[deleted account]

OK... this is the second time I'm going to ask this question, so maybe someone will answer me this time...

HOW does my 3 year old knowing that he has a penis stop him from being a kid? The simple (and truthful) answer is that it doesn't.

Nece - posted on 10/01/2011

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I agree with you!! I tell my 2 soon to be 3 years old do not let any one touch her poo-poo & thats been said well over a year! I feel it is a time & place for everything & at 2 give them something they can relate to on a baby level...there is plenty time to place vagina and penis in there vocabulary come on...thats the problem in this world today people will not allow babies be babies, children be children cause you putting to many & much burden on them How about by the time their little mind is able to call the parts what they are it is already embedded in them that NO one is to be touching it or them how about that! smh

Odunayo - posted on 10/01/2011

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As an educationist, it all good and beneficial especially in this fast-growing world to let them know-it-as-it-is. from home and not to get to hear it outside.

Carrie - posted on 10/01/2011

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From day one. We don't call other parts of our body cutsie names. Giving a vagina or a penis a different name implies that there is something to be ashamed of when there isn't.

Kellilyn - posted on 10/01/2011

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we always used the correct terms from birth. elbow, penis, belly, vagina....then they never think it's a big deal! :)

Tanya - posted on 10/01/2011

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I think once a child becomes school aged they should be taught the appropriate terminology for their private part. Being a mom who works in child services, it is always good for a child to know what their private part is called just in case they are ever touched they can be able to disclose it.

Krista - posted on 10/01/2011

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I will say this much though if your kids use "pet names" for their privates it is easier to know if they are universal terms. I was a teacher at daycare & some the terms kids said for their parts was really confusing & hard to understand. Especially during potty training stage!

Exactly. Like I said earlier, if you HAVE to use pet names for their genitals, at least, for the love of Mike, use terms that aren't so obscure as to be unrecognizable. If you want to call it a pee-pee, or privates, or a wee-wee, then that's totally fine. At least then it can be understood by someone OTHER than the parent, if the situation requires. But a cookie or a flower or a tutu or a toy or a Buzz Lightyear? I just do NOT think that's a good idea.

Merry - posted on 10/01/2011

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Besides, if every kid called their genitals something different they would never feel 'normal'
Kid 1 says I have a Twinkie, do you?
Kid 2 says no i don't that's funny but I do have a hoo ha, you don't have a hoo ha?
Kid 3 I've never heard of those you guys are weird, I have a fanny. I thout everyone had a fanny
Kid 4 nope you all are different then me I have a coochie.

Now if every kid has a vulva but none of them say the same name how badly must they feel when thinking they're the only one who has this body part?
It's an area where we naturally feel inferior at some point in life and knowing we are normal, just like everyone else, is very comforting.
No one wants to think they're the only one with a lollie.

If vulva or vagina is just too hard for you, then say 'privates' or peepee. At least those are sort of universal.

Charity - posted on 10/01/2011

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After reading posts after mine I would just like to say. Even though I tought my children the actual terms for their privates. I also thought them about nobody touching them & I not to just go around saying it! He would only say it when he seriously need tell me something about it. I am by no means telling anyone what is right or wrong! This is just my opinons & the way I parent my children. I will say this much though if your kids use "pet names" for their privates it is easier to know if they are universal terms. I was a teacher at daycare & some the terms kids said for their parts was really confusing & hard to understand. Especially during potty training stage!

Megan - posted on 10/01/2011

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My kids were taught the correct names from early on, I used them when I changed their diapers and they could interact. They chose however to use the slang terms older on. Like Sal said, using the correct terms in school for the little ones resulted in hysterical laughter. Even though the slang words were funnier, they got a kick out of saying the correct terms. Sadly though, some kids had no idea what they were really called.

Luan - posted on 10/01/2011

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My daughter is 4 and I call them by the correct name. My husband on the other hand was very no we should not call them by the correct name. She knows what the names of all body parts.

Carola - posted on 10/01/2011

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right know and with your next one right as soon as you speak to your baby about thier vagina or penis. You run the risk of having your child abused I had a client that called her sons penis his toy. And when the little boy was trying to tell someone that the man was playing with his toy no one responded

Heather - posted on 10/01/2011

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Nicholette, I have a 6 year old son. We have always referred to his penis as a "pee-pee". I dont see any reason to explain to your daughter what she has anatomically for now. At pediatrician appointments we use the correct terminology in front of them. (Im sure they catch on!). But I would at least use a term like "pee-pee" or "privates" so she understands that it is a "body part".

Kelly - posted on 10/01/2011

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I agree with the ladies here....start from the beginning with proper terms. It just makes things easier in the long run.

Marsha - posted on 10/01/2011

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I read some of the earlier posts. For us, I used the correct names. They will grow up and start using the fake ones, just like the rest of us do... but at the beginning I told them they have vaginas (altho at first they thought that whole area was just called a bum, since I would always say, okay we need to change your bum... LOL). I grew up with fake names. I don't think there was anything wrong with that, I am not scarred or couldn't understand the real names once I learned them. So don't worry too much about it, but I think it is good to tell them the real names. In this day and age it is totally acceptable to know boys have penis's and girls have vagina's, and I think it is good for them to know what it is they have on their own bodies. Good luck!

Denise - posted on 10/01/2011

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I think around 6 or 7 is fine...just keep it short and sweet and to the point. Never hurts to remind them not to talk about their private parts to friends or at school! I'd rather my children learn the truth from me than children at school. I've always felt if you are honest and truthful with your children, they will be too.

Belinda - posted on 10/01/2011

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I've always referred to my sons' private parts as their proper names. So I'd say now is the time to start.

Ginger - posted on 10/01/2011

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I've always used the right term for them but when my daughter was little she came up with a name on her own to call them but knows the correct term. I think as long as they know the correct term for them it doesnt matter what they call them.

Donna - posted on 10/01/2011

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I've used the right terms from the beginning, but Daddy sometimes uses "bird" instead of penis because that's what he called his while growing up

Joeleen - posted on 10/01/2011

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We refer to them as "privates" because that is what they are ... private. We also introduce the proper names as well. If you do it from birth, then they know the proper names. Somehow though, my daughters know what a penis is and still refer to it as a weiner (not said by use). They will learn the "slang" names but it is important that they know the proper names as that is an area of their body that they must learn to respect so that no one else disrespects it!

[deleted account]

Wow still following the discussion and actually finding it pretty funny at this stage! Hahaha! For everyone who is saying that 'correct terminology' is used from birth in their house, and then call it a vagina- vagina is incorrect. What you see from the outside is the labia and vulva... Not saying that vagina wouldn't be understood by a dr, or a teacher, but let's NOT call it 'correct' when it isn't... And secondly- if the insistence is on 'correct terminology' in your homes and there being 'nothing embarrassing' about body parts- (which I COMPLETELY agree with BTW!) I guess you have also taught your children 'anus' instead of 'bottom' or 'tushie' or 'butt' ! Hahahaha!



Oh and just one other quick thing- some of you are being a little harsh with those that may not be comfortable using anatomical terms with their kids... We all have words we aren't comfortable using, that's normal, as long as they still let their kids know that its private and not for anyone else then thats ok.... Let's not be so quick to judge....personally I can't stand the word 'panties', for me it conjures up images of pedophiles and dirty old men- I prefer 'undies' or 'underpants'- just a word I don't like using- doesn't mean I'm wrong or the word is wrong....

Gemma - posted on 10/01/2011

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My 6yr old knows girls have a fairy n boys have puggies or tails she knows the correct terms but feels more confident talking about her body n differences between boys and girls using the pet names and everyone can easily know what she is talking about.

Armida - posted on 09/30/2011

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right now is the right time.......... sit down and explain the correct name for her body parts

Margery - posted on 09/30/2011

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Use the correct terms and you won't have any problems later on down the road. My daughters and grand children (both boys and girls) still say Private parts. They also know correct terms as well.

Margery - posted on 09/30/2011

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To ans. the question, "What is the proper age to wear Thong underwear", Well my feelings are, when your old enough to work and buy your own under garments, wear whatever you want, until then wear what your Mom buys you.

Jodi - posted on 09/30/2011

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Um, no-one said they HAVE to call it by technical terms, simply that there is research to back that it is advisable....

Sherri, did I miss someone suggesting sex ed at age 6? BTW, sex education starts at birth with awareness of our own bodies, but I don't think anyone was suggesting sex ed at age 6 :\ My comment about sex ed was aimed at the lady who has never used the terms with her son until he was 13, not 6. And really, that's a bit late to be teaching sex ed, so I was curious as to how someone teaches sex ed to their child without using correct anatomical terms. I certainly wasn't suggesting teaching a 6 year old all about sex.

Helen - posted on 09/30/2011

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i give the correct terms, nothing wrong with it.........i don't want my kids to be ashamed or not know what they are.

Jeannie - posted on 09/30/2011

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and just for the record no child needs to say vagina or penis to express to other adults they are hurt. My daughter is 3 and if she's got a rash, she points and says she hurt, if she falls she points and says I hurt. All I'm saying is you can't say someone HAS to call it technical terms just cause your worried people won't understand they are hurt because they don't kno the specific name. I'm not ashamed, I just think its a little much to hear my child say it. But I think to other parents who can use technical terms in be open are great. Me and my husband actually just talked over this subject a few days ago to decide when and how we explain the private parts to our children.

Jeannie - posted on 09/30/2011

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It is considered rude when everyone had their opinion when someone started the topic asking what to do... their are many saying to use correct terms and some who use nicknames. I do not feel the need to explain my parenting style with you or have to defend my right to choose not to inform my 3 year old of the technical terms, when she is school age and knows appropiate things to say and things not to yell out while grocery shopping she will be taught correct terms. Some of you have taken my post completely wrong. I was simply expressing to the one asking opinions how i choose to talk to my own children. And NO I don't feel like I put my child at risk this way, by the time she's in school she will be able to tell a teacher. just like now she says baba, or eat eat, I'm sure she will eventually say eat food, and bottle for her little brother. I never leave my kids alone bc coming from being abused and not speaking out I won't risk my own kids going through that. For the next reply, I was not talking about people making a choice to hurt their children, once agian my words being turned around, I am adressing this post and the one asking it, and I mean you have a right to choose saying tutu golly girl parts boy parts vagina or penis. No one should force thier opinion on this subject on anyone. Thats what is being done with my post. I am no smarter than any of you, niether are you wiser than me when it comes to my daughter and what works for us. So please just stop commenting on my reply, the poster will read all comments and chose her own way to do things.

Stephanie - posted on 09/30/2011

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Now!! I started out with "vagina." As a single mother, I want there to be NO MISTAKE if someone inappropriatly touches her "gina" as she calls it.....but at least we know what she's talking about if she says her 'gina' hurts...no guessing involved, but lots of laughs sometimes. Seriously tho...using the correct names is best. Hope this helps!

[deleted account]

Hi Nicholette, I have to say I agree with the others about it never being too early to teach the correct names BUT it's also important to say that you've done nothing wrong or harmful to your child so don't worry just start now. And as long as she understands the real names but still wants to use the silly names then don't make this huge deal out of it or anything just make sure you teach her and then from now on you always use the right name. We've done the correct names from the beginning but my 3 year old likes to call her parts - Va-J-J and she likes to call her dad's penis, his tail. We always correct her and use the correct words but it's also really funny to see her trying to be funny and we laugh so of course she is going to keep doing it. I am QUITE CERTAIN this is not going to screw her up for life :-)

Sherri - posted on 09/30/2011

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Sex Education at 6yrs old???? Well that may work for you but HELL NOT happening at 6yrs old in this house.

Jodi - posted on 09/30/2011

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Jeannie, no-one was being rude. Simply addressing a couple of common misconceptions you expressed. It wasn't addressed rudely.



And just for the record, the general statement of "I think everyone has a right to parent just the way they want too." doesn't really wash too well around here. There are plenty of examples of parents who parented the way they wanted to and either had their children taken off them or killed them through abuse and neglect, so no, we don't have that right. There are many examples where parents don't know best for their children.

Jeannie - posted on 09/30/2011

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I never said you were wrong, so assuming is what you just did. I think everyone has a right to parent just the way they want too. I don't think letting your child use a nickname or choosing to teach them proper words for thier privates are going to cause them mental damage either. I did not say proper names would mean they were any less likely to know the right and wrong about when people shouldn't touch them. I referred and agreed to an earlier post that they shouldn't be taught its just another body part like arms or legs. I don't care if someone rubs her back for a hug, or holds her hand but i want her to know thats not right for just any one to talk to her about her privates. I can tell my daughter its her tutu because she just turned 3 years old. Its not like I will never tell her the correct term, but now its my choice not to for my own parental reasons. I am not a judgemental person and you do not have to be rude. I don't assume a cute nickname will give her any special wisdom, she has been told that is her private area no one needs to see but mommy and daddy. I just stated thats the term I use because I feel she doesn't need to know that much right now. and I was referring to people being worried that no one would understand how they had been hurt just because of the nickname they choose. and like I said if anyone hurt my child I would be informed and could better tell them what it meant. thats no reason to tell someone thats the best reason why you should have to tell them the proper names. YOU can parent however you like. Alot of good reasons have been expressed and as you have the right to say you must tell them for birth I have a right to share my opinion to her that its ok if you choose another nick name. Niether is right or wrong it depends on who you are and what you think is best for you and your children.

Jodi - posted on 09/30/2011

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" My son did not even ask about it until he was 13. He knew what they were before that but he didnt have to have mommy or daddy call them that."

Really? So how did you do the sex ed talk with him without using the correct anatomical terms? "Daddy put his pee pee in mummy's cupcake" simply doesn't sound like a very comprehensive sex ed discussion to me.......

Krista - posted on 09/30/2011

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If the doctor needs to know what they say I'll most likely be there to answer and if they are hurt in any manor I would expect a teacher, other parent or any adult to tell me and I would kno exactly what they meant by it.

Another assumption. You're assuming that the teacher or other parent will actually know that your kid is hurt.

Let's say, (heaven forbid) that some family friend or older neighbourhood kid gets after your daughter. He tells her not to tell her parents. Kids are literal creatures. So instead, she tells her teacher "So-and-so touched my tutu."

Now, are you honestly going to sit there and tell me that the teacher is automatically going to understand what your kid means? Because the odds are pretty good that he or she wouldn't clue in, and would think that the "tutu" in question is an ACTUAL freaking tutu.

That's a bit of a risk you're taking, all because you don't want to be embarrassed by her saying, "vagina", isn't it?

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