Motherhood is full of teaching moments. Some lessons are age appropriate lessons you teach at the coming of age, and some of lessons you teach on the seat of your pants as situations arise. But there is one lesson that is different for every family. What do you call your children's anatomy when you are talking to them? Do you refer to anatomy in its anatomical terms or do you provide "kid friendly" terms?
In our home we teach their anatomy but discuss that people don't like the words so we often use words like "privates". Im not sure when we decided the anatomical words of Vagina and Penis were inappropriate, but I have found it off putting at times when my children use them. Which you would think wouldn't be the case since we teach them these terms. Society does a number on our brains.
My husband and I decided that words are words and when you understand their meanings, you
have more power and control. By teaching my kids these terms, along with others, they can adequately explain pain, discomfort, trauma or concerns with me. Now there is nothing wrong with using terms like "privates" as this is important to teach our kids these parts of ourselves are not to share. We tell them the name of their anatomy and then we explain how boys and girls are different (you may feel you should wait on this, but I have two very close together and they often see one another get diaper changes so they noticed early on that they were different), then we proceed to tell them how these are places we keep covered. When my girls ask me why I have breasts and they don't, we talk about how when they get older they will grow breasts as well. We then discuss the purpose of breasts (to feed babies). By explaining to them what their anatomy is, my hope is their curiosity will be limited later in life ;).
I can't know now if my efforts will be successful for my purpose until later in life, but I also feel we tend to confuse our kids when we teach them "pet names" for anatomy. As they get older or go through maturation programs and new names surface, they are quite confused. The words are silly to their ears so my kids like to say them, which is another teaching opportunity for me! When it's appropriate to say certain words and when it's not. My daughter who is 3 refers to her vagina as her "A-China" and I cant help but giggle slightly every time she says it. My 2 year old boy loves to say penis. He emphasizes the P and S and says "pppppenisssssss", then laughs hysterically. Proper vocabulary is important, and it starts in our homes, respect and when to use such words is just as important. So why do I share this? Maybe you have been struggling to decide what is appropriate language to share with your kids. Or maybe, you can use this lesson in other places like using the word bottle vs baba. Whatever the purpose, YOU are worth it, mama! Together we can navigate the vocabulary we need and rise above the societal norms or fears we may have so we can be the best mama's we can be! Go forth and teach your littles the way YOU want to!