Growing up, which terms did you use with your parents to talk about your private parts? Those terms weren’t vagina, penis or nipples. Right?
Our parents made us think that talking about our private parts was wrong and embarrassing. It is for this reason that we used pet names to talk about our genitals.
That tradition of not being able to talk about our genitals has been passed down through generations.
Pet names such as pee-pee and cookie are still being used widely between parents and their kids instead of using the right anatomical names.
Even in adulthood, many people still find it embarrassing and awkward to talk about their genitals using their anatomical names.
Use the Correct Anatomical Terms with your Child
Parents need to know that using pet names with their children when it comes to talking about genitalia isn’t helping them.
It is instrumental that you first teach your kids the parts of their bodies that are private.
Second, they should be able to use the correct anatomical terms when referring to these parts: penis and testicles (for boys), vagina and vulva (for girls), nipples (for girls), etc.
Sexual abuse prevention
If you talk to a child about their private parts and you sense that he/she is feeling awkward or giggle when someone mentions those parts, then they are less likely to tell you if someone is touching them inappropriately.
Research has shown that teaching your kids the anatomical terms for their private body parts helps prevent sexual abuse.
Start using the correct terms with them from an early age and make them understand that these parts are just as important as an arm or a leg.
It helps give a sense of body ownership. Using correct anatomical terms leaves no room for ambiguity if your child wants to tell you or someone else (e.g. the police or a doctor) something about that body part.
This is because children who use incorrect (slang) language to describe their body parts can be easily misunderstood when they try to tell someone about the abuse.
Removing the stigma associated with using the correct language helps to challenge secrecy surrounding abuse, and shows children that we are comfortable discussing issues that are ‘sexual’ by nature.