Head, Shoulders, Knees and….. —– Teach your child the proper Terminology!

As a clinician, one thing I have become adamant about is that children need to learn the proper names for their genitals.

This is quite the slippery slope!  Using these proper terms for genitalia often makes many parents uncomfortable.  It even makes me uncomfortable at times, and I am the professional encouraging you to do this. Our culture and societal norms have trained many of us to feel that it is more appropriate to teach your child euphemisms instead.  However, there are some very solid and important reasons to teach children the correct clinical terms such as “penis” and “vagina” rather than using words such as “dingaling” or “box” is very serious.

Children who know and use the correct genitalia terminology are not only more equipped to disclose potential sexual abuse, but their disclosures are taken seriously. By teaching children the correct terminology, we are giving them a skill that they can use to protect themselves as well as empowering them to disclose when something uncomfortable is happening to them. Unfortunately, children who do not use the correct terminology often get misunderstood, which prevents disclosures from being recognized, treatment from taking place and incident reports from holding weight in legal proceeding.

 Although teaching these terms to your child might take you out of your comfort zone, it is necessary. I encourage parents to start naming body parts properly from day one, the same way we talk about heads shoulders, knees, and toes.