Teaching kids about their bodies

Posted 05-23-2012 at 07:05 AM by whitneywalters

I tell you this, nothing will get some adults more uncomfortable then hearing a child say the actual name for certain parts of their body. You all know the parts I am talking about also. Usually their reaction will be either total embarrassment or giggling like a school girl. I do not understand either of those reactions, it does not phase me in the least.

I am very strict on my kids knowing the right name for body parts. I know when my son learned about his private parts some of my family was horrified. They wanted me to use pet names like “wiener” or “peanut.” It took awhile but eventually I got people on board with the fact that I wanted my kids to know the real name for body parts and there was no reason to get all weird about them using the correct name.

My oldest two kids are the only ones that currently have learned all their body parts. Alex just turned six and Destiny is four. They were both around three years old when they started asking me more questions about their bodies and wanting to know what they were called. I remember the day Alex asked me very clearly. I had him and Destiny in the bath tub. He was almost three and apparently just starting to notice that his little sister did not look the same as him. I swear I could see the wheels turning in his head as he looked at himself and then at her. Finally he looked at himself and said, ” Mama, what is this.” I answered him and told him it was called a penis. He looked puzzled for a moment and then suddenly very alarmed. He exclaimed, ” Mama! Destiny lost her penis”! I have to admit that I did start laughing at this but then I explained the difference between boys and girls and much to his relief his sister did not lose her penis.

Another lovely incident happened when I had my oldest in a store. He was not even two years old yet and Destiny was just a newborn. I took them shopping with me because I needed new bras. I had not yet taught Alex the real name from breasts yet and he picked up the word he used listening to other people talk. I was looking at a couple bras when suddenly Alex very loudly started saying, ” Mama, look boobies!, while he was pointing at all the bras. I was trying to hush him and it only made him louder and louder. Soon all the people in the bra section could hear him and they were all laughing. It was not long after that when I taught him the right name and taught him we did not need to shout it out all over the store.

Destiny learned the proper names to use for herself because I had to take her to the doctor for a urinary tract infection when she was a little over three. She kept telling me it hurt down there and pointing so I sat her down before her doctor appointment and taught her the right words to use. My doctor was really impressed that she knew the word vagina because most kids her age would come in and say their pee pee hurt.

Health was the main reason I wanted my kids to know body parts, I want them to know the right words to use to tell me if something is wrong. I used to babysit a little boy who called his penis his noodle. He kept telling me his noodle hurt and it took me a while to finally figure out what he was talking about, luckily he just had a rash and it was not something dangerous.

Filed Under: Family Health

Comments

8 Responses to “Teaching kids about their bodies”

  1. mibarra on May 23rd, 2012 11:54 am


    I am not as strict about it, we do use names like pee-pee, but I also want them to know the real names. They should know them. They are medical terms and are important for communicating clearly with doctors, and, heaven forbid, in cases of abuse.

  2. gingerpeachee on May 23rd, 2012 1:01 pm


    My son knows the proper names, he’s 4. I didn’t make a point to tell him the proper names or anything…. I think it just occurs from answering whatever questions they have with a factual answer.

  3. trulyprecious on May 23rd, 2012 3:43 pm


    I am so glad to have run across this article today. For the past few weeks I have debated over when to teach DS#1 the correct name for the female’s private part. As soon as we began potty training, at the age of 3, he was aware of the proper name for his own but lately he has been very curious as to why girls are designed differently.

    I know he will understand but deep down I think I have been holding off just to avoid hearing him say aloud over and over again, “Boys have a P and girls have a V”.

    Thanks for addressing this issue.

  4. Xythnia on May 23rd, 2012 3:47 pm


    I am also pretty big about my LOs knowing the correct names. I also don’t want them to be ashamed, embarressed or think there is anything wrong with their bodies, period. Sometimes I feel like the “cute” nick names are to “cover your shame” in a sense. I’ve watched my 4yr old daughter tell her teachers she hurt her vagina when she was pushed down. One of them looked mortified and shushed her and “corrected” her to say “hoo hoo”. I had to talk to her teacher about it as I would have NO idea what a “hoo hoo” even was and she said nothing nasty or improper in any way. (She had actually fallen sideways on the sidewalk and SPLIT the skin on the side of it – very painful and stung when she peed for a day or two). But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not high on my offensive list of things people do! ^_^

  5. doryk on May 23rd, 2012 10:26 pm


    Technically the outer part is not a vagina so would you teach your daughter to say labia?

  6. AnnaMurnane on May 24th, 2012 8:56 pm


    We taught dd the proper name for her privates and she was curious at around 2 1/2 to what the name to her brothers privates so she learned that too. When the ils came to visit dd asked mil if she had the male privates ( DS used actual word) mil triedto ignore her but from her red face I could tell she had heard Dds question and was trying to ignore her. I told dd that women had the same as her and men had the same privates as her brother. My DS is 2 1/2 and just recently learned the names he still randomly yells them in public places until I remind him not to do that.

  7. HaileComfort on May 24th, 2012 11:04 pm


    Definitely in favor of the principle… but like a previous poster, I’m driven to distraction by what sounds like misuse of the term vagina… vagina = birth canal… it has absolutely nothing to do w/ urination. (In women, urine travels through the urethra,the external opening of which is the urinary meatus, and that is located above/in front of the vaginal opening. Both openings are located between the labial folds.)

  8. whitneywalters on May 31st, 2012 2:17 pm


    At this point in time I only use vagina with my daughter, she is only four and I think one word at a time is good until she is older.

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