Rule #3: Teach Toddlers the Proper Names of Private Body Parts

teaching anatomy to toddlers

Toddlers will delight guests and strangers with their vast knowledge of body part terminology.

Roughly around the time your child was a preening zygote, you and your spouse made a vow to be completely honest with him, no matter what the circumstances. And this honesty extends to enlightenment—especially when your child is young. Which is why teaching young children the proper names of private body parts is a wonderful way to spread truth, expand their vocabulary and impress your friends.

It shows how open and honest you are with your children when your 3-year-old daughter can point to an adult guest and say, “Mommy, I wonder how big her vagina is!”


You’ll also swell with pride when your son grabs his nether region while dining at a restaurant and screams, “My penis is so full it will pop soon!” People at nearby tables will sigh, nod and smile. They’ll also wonder why they didn’t teach their children the same words.

Your Children Can Teach Friends These Enlightened Words

One of the biggest benefits of teaching your young child words like vagina and penis is that he or she will be able to share them with friends like verbal trading cards.

There’s nothing more heartening than a room full of preschoolers running around and saying, “You’re a vagina head! You’re a vagina head!” First, it’s not an easy word for youngsters to say—three syllables that don’t roll off an inexperienced tongue. But with practice and repetition, a chorus of 3- and 4-year-old children uttering “vagina head” will eventually sound as natural and mellifluous as Laurence Olivier reading Shakespeare.

Comments

  1. Throwback to a better time and place: 1990, Kindergarten Cop, the line? “Boys have penises girls have vaginas”…classic.

  2. I love your site. However, I have to disagree about this one. Teaching children the proper names to body parts can greatly reduce cases of molestation. Often times predators use cutesy names to gain access to personal and private space, however children who have been taught to name their private parts are less likely to be led astray. It also allows children to own their bodies because they can name when and where something hurts or has been hurt. Teaching them the proper name also teaches them to not be ashamed so that they can be open with their parents about uncomfortable issues. It has to start young.
    /rule-3-teach-toddlers-the-proper-names-of-private-body-parts/#more-17

  3. Our youngest son was asking about body parts and we explained the whole “boys have outie weenies and girls have innie weenies” thing. They do know the medical terms for their junk and quite a few interesting euphamisms as well. Hey, learn it from us or get it elsewhere, it’s not like they’re never gonna hear it. Right on!

  4. Bettis says:

    As we have always tried to keep things cool at our house, our kiddo’s have always called their junk by it’s real name. My 12 year old boy, smack in the middle of puberty, is very comfortable with his body parts. So much so, he likes to talk about them in public now. Like when he walks through the living room to ask me if I know what the average penis size is? (My first thought: “flacid or erect?”) But before I have a chance to answer he tells me it’s three inches. (My next thought: “well, that answers my first question.”) Then he lets me know his penis is bigger than that. WAY bigger. And his olives are getting pretty big, too.

  5. mister8coffee says:

    Kindergarten Cop – Loved that movie very funny.

    Kristina Brook – You obviously don’t get the joke, perhaps you should lurk more.

    Mama – heh he I like that.

    Bettis – nice first thought …. and next thought. Made me laugh :D

  6. Lucy says:

    We foolishly tried to teach our kids the proper names. Somehow or other my son ended up prounouncing ‘vagina’ as ‘dinana’ and ‘dinosaur’ as ‘dinono’ and he thought they meant the same thing. I once gave him a bath with his younger sister and he told me he was looking for her dinosaur. I just about died! The best of intentions. . .

  7. Renee says:

    Whenever my girls were little, I started teaching them their body parts, this was around a year old. Not after they had developed full language skills, or were old enough for it to be something new to share with everyone. I just taught them their arms, legs, nose, vulva, feet, buttocks, etc., as they discovered them. Usually from 6-12 months they discover their privates and just like when they found their ears and I said ears, I taught my girls the word “vulva”, it’s easier to say than vagina and is actually what they are touching. Vagina is the internal body part and doesn’t have to be explained to them until later.

    SInce they had heard the word vulva, just like nose and eyes, they didn’t feel the need to tell anyone about it whenever they were around other kids just like they didn’t point out that they other kids have eyes and noses.

    If you wait until your child is a toddler, they are going to share their new information, they’ve went all of this time with an unnamed or different named body part, now they know what it is and they may want to share it with the world. If they do say something in public, say, “Yes, he is a man and he has a penis.”, or “Yes, she has a vulva because she’s a girl.”, and go one with what you were doing. Within a day or two it will pass as long as no one makes a big deal about it. If you respond by: yelling, laughing, being embarassed and telling them not to talk about that in front of other people, you are giving them signals about their sexuality.

    Many people grow up thinking that their sexual organs are somehow shameful or “bad”. It might not seem like a big deal, now. But when they are teenagers or young adults, it can have emotional effects on how they feel about themselves and their bodies.

    If you didn’t teach them when they were first learning their other body parts, then, a few days of embarrassment is worth it if it means an emotional healthier child.

    • Aaron says:

      Thank you, Renee. Frankly, I’m tired of so many people referring to female genitalia, entirely or any one element of it, using the term “vagina.” Weren’t we ALL taught the female sexual anatomy and proper terms for ALL of it in 7th grade Biology class? …and again in 10th grade Biology class? To say nothing of 7th or 8th grade Health class and 11th grade Sex Ed class, right? Uh huh. I love Sarah Silverman, but get the terms right – especially for your own parts!

  8. Kevin says:

    @Kristina Brooke: I guess reading isn’t for everyone. Nice job.

  9. Luisa says:

    I am so glad I found your site it is like a beacon of hilarity in an all too dark and politically correct online parenting world. However, I do think that I would be proud to hear my son call the appropriate person a vagina head and I am glad he knows the correct anatomical names for the human body.

    Kids and adults using lame names like ‘flower’ instead of vagina and ‘wee wee’ instead of penis make me cringe, like yeah, I got pregnant because someone stuck their wee wee in my flower… How’s that going to make sense to anyone who has English as a second language?

    Cheers – Lui.

  10. Tammy says:

    I have always taught my boys the proper names for body parts. They know they have a penis and girls have vaginas. However their father and his girlfriend call her girls if they say something they call it a shiny or cooter. Ok now how silly is that??? And her 3 year old this morning said girls have a vagina and boys have weenies. And her mom was like dont say that thats a bad word and I responded no its not a bad word its body parts. They should know that so they can tell you when somethings wrong. Goodgrief people are silly and make kids feel bad about themselves.

  11. Christa says:

    @Kristina Brooke

    I have tought my 4 boys what the proper names are to private parts.
    But they have also named them “cutesy” names like privates or “bird” or whatever. BUT that doesn’t put them in anymore risk of molestation than if they used the proper terms all the time. As long as children know how to point to privates, and even use their “cutsey” names, they’ll know how to point out what troubles them in that area or if they were touched there. IMO.
    I am the oldest of 4 girls, and we never called our privates “vagina” growing up, and not once were WE girl molested. :/
    Your statement is bunk. LOL

    • ileana says:

      i was molested and was never told or taught anything about my private parts. i now have a three year old and she nows the name of breast because of course she sees mine when we shower. and she nows buttocks, and yes vulva and vagina. these are things that they are going to very soon learn and the best people to learn it from is their parents. there are a lot of sick people in this world and the better educated and empowered are children are the better they will fair in life,

  12. Christa says:

    @Tammy
    ”However their father and his girlfriend call her girls if they say something they call it a shiny or cooter. Ok now how silly is that??? ”

    That is not only gross it’s disgusting!

  13. Christa says:

    silly rather LOL

  14. C says:

    I think it is good to teach parts, but I like someone’s above mentioned method–no specifics like the internal vagina until later. People think the whole area is that even in adulthood. But to consider slang terms bad words is going too far. I don’t see why we have to take such things so darned seriously. Breasts, sexual organs can be fun parts, so why not have fun names? Would you scold a kid for calling their head a noggin?

    • Aaron says:

      My son (3-years old) named his penis a “dewey” (the spelling is mine) when he was about 18 months old. He has, since, informed me that girls have “go-away deweys.” I was all for using the term “penis,” but our babysitter fought with me about it, claiming that the word “penis” was offensive. Um,… Right. She prefers to use the term “honker.” I could urinate on the heads of some people sometimes. To avoid any further conflict, I backed off and just let my little boy tell her what he was going to call his penis. No “honker” in his trousers.

  15. April says:

    So I stumbled on this blog today because I was wondering if I’d done the right thing by teaching my 2 year old the proper names for everything.

    This morning he told me his elephant had big testicles. Yesterday, he told me a freckle he found on my arm was a ‘little nipple.’ I set him straight. But seriously…no wonder there’s so many people out there that teach ‘wee-wee’ and ‘pee-pee.’ I think I made the right choice, but I’m fairly certain of one thing: I’m not ready for my son to march up to his grandmother and ask her if she has a vagina. I’m pretty sure she isn’t ready for that either.

  16. ileana says:

    pretending that we live in a perfect world and it’s ok to cute, funny names for our privates is ridiculous. we live in a world where your next door neighbor can be a sexual predator and you don’t even know it. with the said, i think that it nieve and reckless to not teach your child the proper names of every body part including genitals. it is a body part just like your arm, leg and you wouldn’t refuse to teach your child that his arm is his arm, or his leg is his leg then why are we being so ignorant and hurting your children. i remember when i first told my daughter the name of breast she was repeating a lot but i explained to her that it is a body part but it is private and no one should see it, touch it etc. along with her buttocks and vulva. let’s think we are in 2012.

  17. Cindi F says:

    HaHa! Great post. I do however agree with some of the above comments that this really isn’t bad parenting. I think that if you are honest with your kids about their bodies they are better prepared and feel more secure with themselves. If you don’t make a big deal about it, your kids won’t either. I have never heard my kids use their body part names in an embarrassing way or teach other kids and my oldest is 14 so…

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