Teach your child the correct terms for private body parts

The other day Kari and I spoke about private body parts and it made me realize that I was not prepared for the conversation! My toddler is a precocious almost-3 year old who asks #allthequestions and says whatever comes to mind. We are actually quite proud of the fact that she has been able to string whole sentences together, at an early age. So when she wanted to know about the difference between her and her baby brother’s genitals, I realized that I could either faff around and make up ‘snuggly wuggly buggly’ names for it, or I could nip it in the bud and call a spade a spade. So to speak.

I explained to her that a boys private body part is called a penis and a girls is called a vagina and that it is a special area of our bodies, off limits to everyone else! Sheesh – I didn’t think I’d be giving the whole ‘sexual predators talk’ this early. But she is my very first daughter (not that boys are immune, yo) and I wanted to empower her. In fact, teaching your child the standard terms for all of their body parts are important. Yep, even the tough ones like vulva and scrotum. This is particularly helpful in safe guarding your kid against abuse because they begin to view each body part in a serious light, rather than as an awkward, embarrassing topic that should be avoided.

My nanny thinks she's Leon SchusterPsychologists (and I’m going to link relevant articles at the bottom to show you guys that I’m not making this up while sipping on my tea) agree that your kid is less likely to tell you if someone is acting inappropriately with them, if they feel embarrassed about their bodies and about talking openly about it. The correct names of their private body parts should not be viewed as a naughty word. In fact, knowing the correct language helps the child in a case where sexual abuse has taken place.

Your children need to know that their private body parts are the same as any other body part, except that they are private and important. BUT they are still good, acceptable body parts and not “oopsie” areas. Perpetrators are usually more wary if a child is body conscious. Another article suggests that by ensuring that you only use the correct names for their private areas, it should immediately set off red flags if your kid comes home referring to them with pet names instead. (i.e. where are they hearing this from) By using the correct term, when referring to them, gives your child permission to talk about their genitals freely, should they have a concern.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, mums. What do you refer to private areas as, when talking to your little one?

These websites offer more insight:


  • michelle

    I feel like I’m still old school that if I hear a 2year old talking about penis or vaginas it’s kinda like omw why would she know about that isn’t it like way to early we were talking the other day and ava said no touch my body n her uncle said nee how can she say it that way he was pulling her ears lmao bt as u know most of her uncles it was funny bt it got me think when how do we do that talk when she is still so small n young rough tomboy .I don’t think I’d give that talk so early it’s sounds strange n taboo ish if I’m saying it right to give the talk so young .what do u think ….

  • Andrea Thomas

    I agree completely about teaching your child the correct names for the body parts. It is a way of protecting them from possible harm. I agree with the one comment “21st century kids is no joke”; there is alot more work going into making your child aware of the world around them; whats acceptable and what’s not! Facts have proven that in most cases of abuse it happens with a family member or a close family friend! We teach our 5 year old (daily) about who is allowed to fetch her from school; even an uncle or aunt whom she loves but has never fetched her previously from school is not allowed to collect her! We have to “drill” awareness and preventative methods into our “21st century kids” daily! We provide our daughters with truth and information on a level that they understand without giving too much information and without making them scared either! Its a tough balancing act!

  • Liscka

    My daughter is 7 to date. I taught my daughter (from the age of 3-4) to refer to certain sections of her body as private parts, vagina, breasts (even though there isn’t any right now), bums etc, she knows why it is private and that no-one not even grandparents, uncles or aunties can touch her private parts (even though I trust my child with my life with our family). She knows there is nothing wrong with her private parts, instead she knows that God has created her with these specific amazing parts that make her who she is. She knows when someone kisses her on the lips it is inappropriate unless its mommy or daddy kissing her hello, bye, i love you. She will quickly give you the cheek to peck on if you want to kiss her – she knows what is not right. Oh she knows the correct terms of her special body parts, vagina etc, and in today’s times, we cannot be blind as to what our kids are exposed to at school, just playing with friends, cousins etc. Also schools have introduced life skills teaching kids about body parts from grade 1 already, I would rather her have my version of private body parts, what sex is, what rape, molesting and murder is than that of someone else or one of her friends. You never know what that child i exposed to or what their definition of certain things are. 21st century kids is no joke hey.

  • Cherralle

    I prefer the correct name and I use it with my daughter. Your article is spot on as it correlates with what I read about this topic. For me personally it’s important to use the correct terms so that there is no ‘stigma’ and my daughters can talk about it if they need to. Since about 2 my daughter has been talking about her private parts and although I cringe internally (as we were brought up differently) I let her be comfortable.

  • Carin

    My daughter is 2.5years old and this topic came up shortly after her brothers birth. She wanted to know what “that” was!!! I also opted to teach her the correct words and referred to her brother private parts as penis and hers as vagina. Also tried to explain the boy and girl thing and that’s it’s private and nobody should see it touch it. It doesn’t however bother her at this stage as she enjoy running naked in the house… haha. She knows that her daddy, grandpa , uncle’s have penises and her mommy, grandma, aunties have vagina’s… I found it quite uncomfortable hearing her utter these big words… Also quite “funny” to hear but I think this is because of my background where they are referred to in various phrases.. only thing now is we could be in a random area, shopping malls, church anywhere… she can and do at times say out load… mummy got a vagina and Daddy a penis. Or could point at a random man and say , uncle got penis… this is quite embarrassing for me…

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