Every day in April, I’ll be posting a video about one of the questions in my guide, (Over) 100 Questions To Ask Your Kids About Sexuality. The guide is free and if you don’t have it, you can get it by clicking here.
This question is in the section of the guide called “Questions For Children”, but you can also try this exercise with preschoolers. It’s all about giving kids an opportunity to learn the names of their genitals (and any other body parts they haven’t learned yet).
Children being able to name their genitals properly is foundational sexual knowledge. It’s information that kids can use when they’re young, and then build on as they move through their childhood and adolescence.
The reason I like to jump into this lesson with a question about the body overall is because well…our genitals are a part of the body overall. They do have their own specific look, function and they often get special treatment in our society. But genitals aren’t separate from the rest of us, so why not teach kids to name them at the same time as the rest of their parts?
You can really have fun with this questions. During a bath, or while getting dressed, you and your child can take turns shouting out names like “Nose!” “Arms!” “Hands!” You can even prompt them by pointing to the various parts of their bodies. One way to keep things neutral is by starting either at the head or the feet and just working your way down or up the body: hair, eyes, mouth, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, tummy, vulva/penis, bum, legs, feet.
Your child may not know what to call their genitals, or they may call them by a nickname. No problem. That’s the perfect cue for you to give them the accurate names. You can also tell them that different people have different types of genitals.
Because little kids are concrete learners and thinkers, it may be easier to stick with the parts of their genitals that they can easily see at first: the vulva, the penis and the testicles/scrotum. When they’re older, you can build on the early lessons by teaching them names like the clitoris, labia, head/glans, etc.