Tinkle, winky, minnie, frou frou, noonie, pee pee. A mixture of embarrassment and uncertainty means parents often struggle to know what to call children’s private parts. As such mums and dads often adopt nicknames such as ‘willy’ or ‘front bottom’ when referring to ‘down-there.’ But now, parents are being advised that this isn’t the right thing to do.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) recently stated on its website that using various jokey words to refer to the penis or vagina can be confusing for children. Instead parents are being urged to “tell it like it is and use accurate terms from an early age.”
The trust explains that while adults can often view these words as sexual, they’re actually not, and children won’t view them as ‘dirty’ words unless we teach them to do so.
That means using the actual medical terms for our bits, and not glossing over or telling children off when they use the correct terms either.
Jill Wilson, Health Improvement Lead, Sandyford said: “Many adults were not taught these words growing up and can feel uncomfortable using them as they can be thought of as ‘sexual’ words. Young children do not have these associations and usually consider these words to be as normal as ‘hand’, ‘leg’ etc,”
“We have consulted parents across NHSGGC, on their role in educating children about growing up, puberty, sexual health and relationships,” Jill continues.
“Parents have told us they are keen to back up the learning that children get in school, but many feel unsure about what to talk about, when, and what language to use.”
The NHS Trust has created a website to provide information on the subject for parents and they have also released a short video, which they hope will raise a few lols and therefore encourage parents to share on social media.
In the film, a young girl describes male and female genitalia as “penis” and “vulva”. Her dad initially looks shocked but then later agrees these are the right terms to use.
Jill added: “Most parents want their kids to direct their curious questions to them but sometimes we need a hand with how to answer them. For many parents, this is particularly so for questions about growing up, changing bodies, relationships and sexual health. Fear not, we’re here to help!”
The fact that we didn’t grow up referring to our ‘front bottoms’ as ‘vaginas’ probably explains why we’re so keen to have adopted their minnie/woo woo/noon nickname counterparts. So maybe encouraging children to use the correct terms from an early age will help ease our own collective discomfort? Because ‘vagina’ and ‘penis’ really aren’t bad or embarrassing words and we therefore shouldn’t be afraid to use them.