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How to teach kids about their (shhh...) privates

How to teach kids about their privates by Robyn Welling @RobynHTV
When it comes to pee-pees and hoo-has, some parents get all fired up about when we should teach our kids about their . . . um . . . "down there" privates, and what to call them.

In one corner, you have the Avoiders, who would prefer their kids learned about their nether-parts sometime after college; these parents often use words like "dingle" and "nether-parts" instead of whatever those ding dongs and whippersnappers are really called.

In the other corner, you have the Informers, who start discussing sexuality with their children in utero using terms that even I, an adult by most standards, barely understand without a medical dictionary (or without giggling).

With my kids, I've pretty much played this issue by ear, which most of you probably know is parenting code for "I ignore it until I absolutely can't ignore it any more, then I continue to ignore it for a couple more days while I decide what to do, except I forget until it comes up again and I have to stall some more because I was caught off guard and quite frankly just don't want to think about it."

After 11 years of use, this system was still working great - sort of.

Our two-year-old likes to follow us everywhere, including the bathroom. For a long time she didn't really show any interest in what I was doing in there, she just wanted to hang out and discuss Polly Pockets until I was finished.

That was fine, until one day when I was on my "lady time" (or whatever you want to call it), and the extra few seconds of bathroom-related commotion caught Madeline's attention. She tilted her head to one side, eyes widening, and came to this obvious conclusion, which she then proceeded to announce to everyone who would listen:


This was our first clue that somebody was going to have to talk to the girl about what was going on in people's, um, pants-ular areas. But . . . meh. There was plenty of time.

Until there wasn't.

Not too long after that, Madeline waltzed into the bathroom while my husband was in there. Although she didn't actually see anything, she suddenly noticed a . . . shape in the front of Daddy's pants. A shape she'd never noticed before, but one she thought she recognized.

"Daddy? What dat? Dat right there? DADDY, WHY YOU HAVE POOP IN YOUR PANTS?"


With this level of confusion, even I couldn't justify putting it off any longer. My husband and I, being super mature grown ups, decided we would tell her the Real Technical Terms for people's crotch parts. We didn't get too crazy with it - I vow I'll go to my grave without uttering the word (whispers) genitals in front of my children - so we simply explained that daddies have a penis and mommies have a vagina, that boys and girls are a little different, but everyone keeps those parts covered up because they're private.

However, like every toddler, the girl enjoys repetition. Or maybe it was because my super mature spouse and I were laughing pretty hard at this point, but whatever the reason, we continued to discuss it.

"What you sayed?"

We said it again.

"Daddy, you have a . . . What you sayed?"

Paying some sort of karmic price for avoiding those words for so long, we said them again.

With a look of sudden understanding, my daughter announced, "Oh, Mommy has a vageenus! Wait . . . what you sayed?"

Whichever one of was was laughing in a less obvious way said it again. She almost grasped it this time.

"So, Daddy has a penis, and Mommy has . . . a Mommy peanuts!"



Not even hiding the uncontrollable laughter anymore.

So that's why, instead of my daughter learning the actual medical terms for her body parts, I now use the term peanut buns. And frankly, I think that's a much better term than hoo-ha (or whatever it's called) anyway.

This article was also published on and featured by The Huffington Post.

If you need more advice on how to screw your kids up while trying to teach them about private junk, check out my decision tree on NickMom: Is It Time For The Sex Talk With Your Son? - because CLEARLY I'm an expert.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!


Abby Heugel said...

OK. This post made my morning. You're competing with rain, no heat or phones at work and, well, work, but still...I needed the laugh.

I remember my grandma used to call my peanut buns a "buttercup," so what's with the food words anyway? At any rate, I still don't like the word "penis" myself and resort to whatever else pops up first (no pun intended.) And as for peanut buns? It's just a crotch, but I can't imagine telling a 2-year-old what she should say.

I expect an update in a few months as to how this develops...

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

There are hardly any anatomically correct words I can use without laughing or blushing furiously. I might start using "buttercup"!

Wendy said...

I'm in big trouble! I've long called her privates a "tootle bug" and now I'm trying to explain that these parts have other names. GAH!

fishducky said...

When my daughter was 2 or 3, I was giving her a bath together with a neighbor's boy, the same age. He commented on her "strawberries" & she told him they were nipples. He answered, "You may have nipples, but I have strawberries!!"

ShakespearesMom said...

The word "vageenus" has reduced me to uncontrollable giggles. Thank you for this!

Noelle said...

Peanut buns. Oh my. I can't stop laughing hysterically now! I'm using that for forever.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

That is ADORABLE! If I had started off with tootle bug, I'm not sure I'd ever have the heart to switch.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

Seriously, who decided on "vagina" anyway? Somebody who hadn't thought of "peanut buns," that's who!

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

Ha! I should've been friends with that kid's mom - "nipples" is just about the only word I don't have a problem saying, so maybe I could've hadn't that and she could've handled all the downstairs words for me!

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

Thank YOU for appreciating "vageenus"! Sometimes I just can't tell if the stuff I think is funny will make other people snicker, too. :)

Jen said...

This was awesome. Laughing a bunch over here. We refer to them as "boy parts" and "girl parts." But, recently my kids have been asking more specifics (but what is its name?) So we tell them. And we try to keep a straight face. But we all blush and giggle a little. And we move on.

Kathy at kissing the frog said...

"peanut buns' is now my new most very favorite phrase.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

So glad I'm not alone! :D

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

There's a lot to love about peanut buns (snicker).

Nicole Shaw said...

Still shaking with laughter. Brava!

I've used all the correct terms, even labia. (Not clitoris, though, because gag. I know, I'll use it when I have to! Like, if there's a very specific rash or something.) Anyway, they still call everything "buns." If something is in their buns I need to check the whole area. And I've corrected them. It's like even they know the words penis and vagina are stupid.

Fun story. My 4yo son asked me to help him in the bathroom. During that time he barraged me with the same question, over and over. "What are these balls under my penis? What are these balls? Why are they balls? Do you want to feel the balls? Look, they are like little balls! What are those balls?"

Nicole Shaw said...

Wendy!!! Tootle bug! I love it but can't imagine how you got there. Do tell . . .

Nicole Shaw said...

I'm favoring vageenus.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

I'm now terrified of the possibility of a clitoris rash. However, the fact that your littles say "buns" and that I get to picture you enduring your son's insatiable ball curiosity makes it totally worth it. xoxo

Sara B said...

My 2.5YO announced tonight that she has a 'gina, and boys have peanuts. So I guess daycare took care of that for me!

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

D'oh, THAT'S why it seemed so easy with my older kids - they were in daycare! I forgot how many ways daycare saved the day. I need to get this baby in some kind of program, stat!

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

That's what he said. *giggle*

Amanda said...

Hilarious! We have a three year old girl, and we avoid the technical terms like the plague also. We've just told her that's part of her body, she thinks her "peanut buns" are her body, which really confuses her when we talk about her body(meaning head to toe) so now I feel like I have to do some re-educating. Ugh, why is this so awkward to talk about? We also had referred to the whole business as her hiney(front and back) but then when we had to pretend to wash body parts in a music class she chose "Hiney" and began pretending to wash her crotch...I was a bit embarassed.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

Your music classes sound SO much more fun than ours! But seriously, I wish I knew why it's so awkward - I have to pull myself together. Maybe. Then again, I really feel like "hiney" has potential...

Meredith said...

Vageenus and peanut buns! Love it, and thanks for going before us in this parenting venture and figuring out the best way to explain it to kids first.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

We're a real success story - I'm pretty sure the oldest boys still use the term "wee wee" (they're 19 and 22). ;)

Anya3 said...

I planned on being PC supermom when it came to this. Had a son, called it a penis and that was that. Had a daughter and called it a vagina. Only she kept calling it a badina. I kept correcting her until one day we were in the checkout line at Target and she shouted "My badina itches!"
I never corrected her again.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

I'm laughing SO HARD - so thank you for that, and thank you for giving me a legit excuse to keep "peanut buns" around a while longer. :)

StacyKK said...

Thanks to this post I've busted out laughing at work with no way to explain what I am laughing at. The papertowels in the front buns started me and I can't quit. The best part of having boys is only having to teach penis. When they ask about me I just say girl parts or mommy parts. So not ready to teach my 5 yr old boy the word vigina.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

I believe if you mention "front buns," people at work will stop asking questions. :) I seriously recommend putting off using the real words as long as possible with your 5yo; I know many parents think that's immature, but then again they never met my extremely pro-real-words-for-things friend whose child loudly asked her mother, "Grandma, do you have a hairy vulva?" Immature? Maybe, but at least I know my kids will never ask my mom about her (whispers) vulva.

Jennifer McCullough said...

"Peanut buns" that is too funny!! She can say that in public all day long and no one will know what she's talking about. Score mom!
My son is two and one day when he saw me in the bathroom he said, "Mama's body has fur on it."
We have a cat, so I guess that's where he got it.
I just left it at that.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

Yeah, you won't catch me correcting any assumptions for the most part. "Mmm hmm, they sure are paper towels, honey..." :)

Christie said...

We always use correct terms (except no need for clitoris yet, thank god) so I just about bust a gut laughing when my then 2 1/2 year old came home telling us that boys have a "hose vagina"

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

I'm crying. Christie for the win!!! "Hose vagina" is maybe the best thing I've ever heard in my life.

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