Teach them from the beginning

September 12, 2019

8 Reasons To Teach Proper Names For Genitals


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Laura Lee, 53, with invisible wounds and scars. I've learned to embrace PTSD and depression because if I don't own them, they'll own me.  I don't want to simply survive, but to thrive.  I hope you'll join me on my journey.  It's sure to be a bumpy road.


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Do you have difficulty using proper terms for genitals?  I’m going to give you compelling reasons to teach proper names for genitals.  Actually, 8 reasons to teach proper names for genitals.


We pray that we can always protect our children, and yet some things are out of our control.  There are, however, things that we can do to mitigate the chances that they will fall prey to a sex offender.  This is just one of those things.

When my son was born, we referred to his penis as a ‘pee pee.’  I went to a conference put on by our local police force.  Day 1 was about local gang violence.  Day 2 was local child abuse trends and how we, as parents, could help to protect our children.

From that day on, we referred to our son’s penis as what it was – his penis, and the rest of his genitals by their proper names as well.  He and our daughters learned all the genitals – male and female by their proper names.  Penis.  Vagina.  Scrotum.  Clitoris. Testicles.  Labia.  And, they  learned their breasts were just that – not boobies.

So many parents avoid these proper names, instead opting for pet names.  Using proper terminology is uncomfortable for many and using pet names becomes a cultural thing.  Now, think about that.  Let it sink in.  Parents are uncomfortable using proper terminology.  They’ll call a penis a weiner, or say flower for vulva, but they don’t call an eye a lookie.  Or a nose a smellie.

When a weiner isn’t a weiner



  1. If you teach your child the proper terms for genitalia and he or she suddenly starts using pet names, it should be a red flag – something to be investigated. It’s possible he or she learned it from a friend, but it’s also possible that she’s being groomed by a pedophile.   If you only use pet names, you may not pick up on this.
  2. An accusation such as “He put his penis in my vagina,” is a lot more significant and will be taken more seriously than “He put his pee pee in my muffin,” if a case of abuse goes to court. Why?  Because ‘penis’ is the proper term for the male sex organ and vagina is the proper term for the female genital canal.  If a child uses a pet name, the court has to decipher exactly what is meant because ‘pee pee’ and ‘muffin’ are not universal terms.
  3. A child that knows proper terminology is empowered even if he or she doesn’t know it. Imagine a little boy telling a would-be abuser, “Don’t touch my wee wee!”  Now, imagine a little boy telling a would-be abuser, “Don’t touch my penis!”  Which child is more susceptible to abuse?  The child who uses pet names.  Why?  Because the would-be abuser knows that an adult is actively educating the child that knows the proper terms.  And, this child is more likely to tell if abuse does happen.
  4. A child that knows proper terms can properly describe injuries or illnesses to you or a medical professional – think about yeast infections, UTIs, or little boys getting kicked in the groin during schoolyard fights.
  5. As the child grows into adolescence, he will not want to continue referring to his penis as a ‘wee wee.’ What do you do then?  It becomes an uncomfortable situation for the child and the parents.
  6. It’s a lot easier to discuss puberty and sex with an adolescent or a teen that is already comfortable referring to his or her genitals by their proper names with you. Using these terms should be as common and every day as talking about your arms, eyes, or toes.
  7. If we don’t teach our children the proper terms, we’re teaching them that to talk about our genitals is taboo, which in turn, means that they may be less likely to confide in us if they are touched inappropriately or approached by someone who tries to touch them inappropriately.
  8. It opens the lines of communication and makes all other conversations much easier.


Teach them from the beginning


Once you start using the proper terms, don’t make them taboo.  Use them often so that your child is comfortable using them, too.

A good place to start is in the bathtub.  Say each body part as you’re washing it.

“Arms, fingers, belly, legs, toes.”

“Can I wash your penis now?”

Asking, also lets your child know he needs to give people permission to touch his genitals and what appropriate touch is.  If he says, “no,” be prepared to give him the washcloth so he can do it himself.



My children grew up without any difficulties letting me know when they were having difficulties with their ever-changing bodies.  I remember one particular morning when one of my daughters called me into her bedroom and told me that she had a lump under one of her breasts.   She was in 4th grade.  I asked her permission to touch her breast – just under her nipple, and she gave me that permission.  Then, I asked her permission to feel her other breast.  And, she gave me permission.  She actually had a lump under both breasts – she had breast buds.  We had already had talks about puberty, so it was easy to discuss with her what was happening.

I stopped giving my son and oldest bio daughter baths together when she decided to touch his penis when he was standing up in the bathtub.  He emphatically told her it belonged to him and was not hers to touch.  I decided that was a good time to separate bath times.



And, having the ‘sex talk’ was easy.  In fact, we had lots of those.  And, they were all easy.  Not only were they easy for us as parents to have with our children, but our children easily came to us with questions, starting at very young ages as they became curious about what sex was.  It made lots of conversations with our children easy because they knew they could come to us about anything.  Nothing was off the table.

But most importantly, my children were armed with knowledge, and power.



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comments   | 

  1. I am happy I no longer have to worry about these things and I hope my girls at age 21 and 24 were properly informed by me! LOL 🙂 I am sure this is super helpful to moms (and dads) out there!

  2. Natalie says:

    Great reasons! I don’t know why people give the genitalia pet names there is nothing wrong with the proper terminology! But you point out great reasonings for doing so! I’m going to share this with my niece who is expecting.

  3. Matt Epley says:

    Great advice, top to bottom. I hadn’t thought about the red-flag in #1. Good to know!

  4. Tricia Snow says:

    My mother made sure to start young and always used the proper names so I did as well. I can not imagine another way! Great advice!

  5. Amy Irvin says:

    Thanks. I sent this to my husband. He disagrees with me that we should be telling the littles the proper names for their privates.

  6. Robin says:

    I never would have thought of this! Thank you for sharing awareness of how important it is!

  7. Shirley says:

    I have grandkids now so I’m sharing this article with their parents.

  8. Oh, this is fabulous! Thank you, Laura Lee!!!!

  9. Angela says:

    This is a good topic and I think the earlier to start on the right track, the better.

  10. Jen says:

    As a pediatric nurse I have always used proper terms w my children and encourage others to do the same!

  11. Lisa Manderino says:

    This is great information! I hadn’t thought about it but it makes complete sense!

  12. judean says:

    This is great information that should be shared with all new parents! While in the beginning the terms are ‘cute’ they can be damaging and unrealized. Thanks for discussing this topic.

  13. Very good points. I think our society somehow has changed it that these words are not to be used, but I agree that they should be.

  14. Lisa says:

    Great points and reason for using the proper names.

  15. Candy K says:

    These are great reasons I never thought of. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Lisa says:

    I agree with these reasons!! Thank you for posting.

  17. Cindy says:

    Knowledge IS power. We help our children so much when we use proper anatomical terms and also when we show them there is nothing taboo in talking about the body or sex.

  18. Love it! I have done this with my children since they were babies!

  19. Chris says:

    A very interesting post on a topic most don’t want to address. Thanks for sharing.

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Laura Lee, 52, with invisible wounds and scars.  I've learned to embrace PTSD and depression because if I don't own them, they'll own me.  I don't want to simply survive, but to thrive.  I hope you'll join me on my journey.  It's sure to be a bumpy road.



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