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What Should Kids Call Private Parts?

What Should My Kids Call Their Private Parts?

Which words should parents use when talking with children about private parts? There's certainly more than one perspective on the issue: Some moms adamantly believe that only anatomically correct names should be used, another camp is fine with cute code words, and still others fall somewhere in between. Here we break down the key reasons parents choose the words they do.

Anatomical Names Only

Many moms feel very strongly that only the anatomically correct names for private parts should be taught to a child. As Angie B. says, "It's no different than teaching him fingers, toes, nose, and ears. They are what they are and there should be no shame in using the appropriate names." That means teaching toddlers the words penis, testicles, vagina, and vulva.

Many moms also say that in addition to causing children to feel embarrassed or ashamed about their private parts, nicknames can cause confusion in communications between the child and their doctors, caregivers, and teachers, should any serious issues arise.

The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees: "It is important to teach your child the proper names for body parts. Making up names for body parts may give the idea that there is something bad about the proper name."


Universally Understood Euphemisms

Other moms, like Sherri C., take the stance that anatomical words for genitalia should be taught to kids, but that universally understood euphemisms should be used in public conversation: "The correct terminology just is too brash for us so we don't do it. They all know the correct terminology, but in the house we opt not to use it. . . . At school, etc., it is very taboo to use such words as vagina or penis. They refer to them as private parts at school."

Many moms also agree with Circle of Moms member Kaleigh that if you do decide to use nicknames, it's better to use a commonly understood euphemism, to avoid communication problems: "There are plenty [of code words] that are frequently used (winky, wiener, front bum, vajay-jay, etc.) so I do agree making up random uncommon ones like muffin or broccoli is a little much."

Cutesy or Nonsense Nicknames

Flower, hoo hoo, noodle, ding ding . . . there are countless cutesy or seemingly random words used to refer to children's genitalia. How come?

Many moms who use cute nicknames do it while children are too young to understand when not to say the words. Sarah explains: "I don't want to be in the grocery store and one of my daughters yell out, 'Mommy my vagina hurts,' or, 'My vagina itches.' . . . I mean, if people didn't look at me like I was crazy for teaching them the right words for it, then yeah, I'd teach it to them . . . but society has deemed these words as offensive and not 'ladylike' or not 'proper' to say out loud. . . . I'll continue with the code names until they are out of the stage of telling anyone and everyone about their privates." Rebecca C. agrees: "I call my son's a wrinkle or a wiggle. . . . I think penis comes later when they learn when it's appropriate to mention it."

And to those who say anatomically correct words must be used to ensure good communication about inappropriate touching, Angela B. counters, "You can teach 'good touch, bad touch' without having to use the so-called proper terms."

What have you taught your children to call their private parts?

Image Source: Shutterstock
MarieMcdowell11384946968 MarieMcdowell11384946968 3 years
When my grandson, began to ask or when the time was right... I told him that it was he's John- John Actually that's what we name it....
CoMMember13631166098074 CoMMember13631166098074 4 years
my son has known since age 2 what we have and the differnce bettween us hes 10 now and some time he will say my thiny hurts lol but i tought my son that it is privete and shouldnt be talked about around people and if he had a problem to talk to his dad or i in privete teach ur kids eight and weong
ChetMC ChetMC 4 years
Another vote for kids learning appropriate names for things. People don't think up silly names for their arms and legs.
JadeHamilton39503 JadeHamilton39503 4 years
My 3 y.o knows it is a vagina, penis, bum and boobies ( not 100% why but even though I say breast she seems to have attached herself to saying boobies). I would rather if something happens she is able tell whoever needs to know what happened.
JessicaMcDonald56744 JessicaMcDonald56744 4 years
I think it's important for appropriate aged children to know what their parts are, but a two year old is fine with appropriate nicknames. It is not appropriate or acceptable for a child to be going around talking about or referring to their privates and most daycares / teachers would tell them they shouldn't say it so I would rather wait until they are old enough to understand when and where it is appropriate to talk about it.
MichelleKilleen MichelleKilleen 4 years
Both my children know the correct terms and I have no issue with them saying them. My 7 year old son calls his a doodle but also knows it is called a penis and my 4 year old daughter calls hers a fanny but also knows it is called a vagina. I have also heard the court stories saying that if your children are not able to clearly identify the area, that the perp is usually let off but not sure how true this is. That is another reason why we are comfortable with them knowing/understanding their body parts.
PamODonnell PamODonnell 4 years
absolutely not should you be using cutsie names for private parts, any reputable daycare typically has a professional come or at least the daycares from our area have a professional come in to speak to the parents on why it is not good to use nicknames for the private parts and they say for the following reason (not verbatum) in the event that something has happened to your child and someone harmed your child or touched them inappropriately and you have to go to court, if your child says "he touched my brocolli" or "she touched my va jay jay" or whatever ridiculous name that one is using will get the perpetrator off and he/she could go free to hurt someone else again......
RyanAlcini RyanAlcini 4 years
That should be HINEY. Autocorrect
RyanAlcini RyanAlcini 4 years
What would be the appropriate term for the rear? I have said "bottom" and "honey", but it seems silly to know vagina, penis, and honey.... What do you think?
JessicaChant JessicaChant 4 years
The Boys have a wee thing and it's all called rudeness or privates, and if my kids have pain down there I say is it the front or the back they can understand that and so can I! I have no problem with them not knowing the proper names cos they will learn soon enough at school!
spookymama87 spookymama87 4 years
We use "pee pee" and "bottom" for our daughter's areas. She's 2 1/2 and when she is older we will teach her the correct terms but for now we're gonna stick with those words.
Ericka1365118180 Ericka1365118180 4 years
such a simple question and yet so many answers that are dramatic. jesus people, relax. if you're kid says my penis/vagina hurts in a grocery store and people look at you like you're kid just said the C word, tell them to get over it. unless they don't have a penis or vagina. sh** like this is taboo because you make it that way.
MichelleB91875 MichelleB91875 4 years
My children use the correct names, and have since they were old enough to name things - so penis, vulva (because they only need to know the name for the outside bit right now, and calling it your vagina seems to me like calling your whole arm an elbow), nipples etc. I see no point in making up cutesy names or something that implies it's something to be ashamed of. And what's more important for them - to know what their tummy-button is called exactly or their penis? My son has had cause to say his penis is sore - if he told me it was his bottom we'd then have to sort out which part.
kerriemanning kerriemanning 4 years
I call them private parts and my son learnt this from me.
kerriemanning kerriemanning 4 years
I call them private parts and I've told him the reason is because they're yours to keep privately :D
RobinSaleem1370915017 RobinSaleem1370915017 4 years
my son is four and knew since two he had a penis and girls had vaginas. Hello people...remember growing up to kindergarten cop.... "boys have a penis girls have a vagina" nothing wrong with it. I would rather him know the correct names instead of him having nicknames for it when he gets older. BUT...ive always taught my son to not walk around saying these words freely, only when something is bothering them.... hes now about to be 5 and has had no mishaps with the terms.
KimberlySmith933 KimberlySmith933 4 years
So you tell me to call things by their anatomical names, but then use the wrong names? The vagina is technically a small hole that has no function that a 3-year-old needs to understand that well. When my daughter hurts or itches down is not her vagina that is having problems. Yes, you should be careful about which cutsey names that you choose if you go that route. A predator that touches a "kitty" cannot go to jail for touching a cat, but no court expects a 3-year-old to know all of their parts. There is no anatomy test for sexual assualt victims.
SandyPowell84791 SandyPowell84791 4 years
In response to the "china", my five year calls hers "gina" with a short "i". She has known proper name since she was old enough to talk 10 months-1 year.
MelyndaPingal MelyndaPingal 4 years
Call them what they are! Although my lil girl cant say vagina very well so she calls it her " china". It's cute but i do correct her.
EstherUrquhart EstherUrquhart 4 years
We use "middle," for girls it's a girl middle, for boys it's a boy middle. Anatomically it's in the middle, top to bottom, left to right, front to back. Though my children do know the right terms for this gender feature. :) they also know that essentially, they're the same tissues, just structured a bit differently since all babies start out looking like they have girl parts untill they change. :)
annawilson43490 annawilson43490 4 years
We used pee pee until my son realized I was different and kind of panicked that my pee pee was gone. About thee months later he told me only that he could never feed the baby because he didn't have "big things" (breasts) so I had to teach him another difference in boys and girls. He was very interested in the differences for about a month while learning about them and now it's just normal to him. If you watch for the cues, they will tell you when they are ready to learn!!
AmandaHowarth AmandaHowarth 4 years
We use "winky" for my son and "pee-pee" for my daughters. They're not allowed to say "butt" in school, they definitely wouldn't be able to go around saying "penis" and "vagina"
KerreONeil KerreONeil 4 years
I'm a mother of 4. My boys - ages 5 1/2 and 4 1/2 know they have a penis and that mom has a vagina and breasts. I'm sorry parents who believe it's wrong to teach kids the correct name but what are you afraid of? I want my kids to know that's it's okay to say those words.
MireilleSB MireilleSB 4 years
I actually wrote a very funny story about this topic. It happened with my son not too long ago when he just learned the word "boobies"! Here's the link: It's a short story, so it shouldn't take too long. Read it and let me know what you think :)
JamieFleck JamieFleck 4 years
Accidentally posted before I finished! ...And they learn how those are private areas and need to be discussed in private with trusted people like Mom or Dad or a doctor. Although, that all being said, despite my efforts, my now 6 yr old son calls his penis his peanut. It started because he was not able to pronounce it correctly because he has a speech delay and now he just prefers to say it even though he can now say the correct name. He is just a creature of habbit! LOL
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