The Simple List of Private Parts for Kids

Oct 20, 2021

by Camille Everett

Creator of Be That Place

Handwritten notes and lunchtime chats from students kickstarted Camille's mission to help families teach sex ed at home. She is a graduate of Utah State University with a bachelor’s in Secondary Health & English Education. She loves having real conversations while devouring bowls of chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

The simple list of private parts for kids

A quick Google search and you’ll come across the phrase “kid-friendly names for private parts.” I thought this was odd. Normally we work hard to help kids say the right words, not the wrong ones. Are the correct names of private parts for kids any different?

They shouldn’t be. Words are just words after all. And although these words describe body parts that can be used in a sexual way, the words themselves do not describe anything sexual.

In fact, experts agree that kids should grow up using and hearing the correct words for private body parts.1

This is important for a lot of reasons, including sexual safety, communication, and an understanding of consent which is why your kids really DO need to know the real names of private parts.

But for now, let’s talk about the WHEN. What private parts should kids know by what age? 

One thing is clear: kids don’t yet have an understanding of the sexual component of sexual anatomy. Their questions at this age are very simple and innocent. To help you see why, I’ll give a quick overview of child development and how it applies to understanding body parts before I dive into basic anatomy for this age group.

5 and 6-year-olds: never-ending potty humor

At this age, nothing seems to attract kids’ giggles more than potty humor. They’re imagining they’re dragons? Of course one is farting. They built a city out of blocks and now are driving matchbox cars through it? It wouldn’t be complete without a toilet stop in a prominent city location. These kids love potty words and potty humor. 

We learn in Yardsticks: Child and Adolescent Development Ages 4-14 by Chip Wood that five and six-year-olds’ imaginary play is an exploration of real world situations. They love playing house, trying out different gender roles, preparing play food, teaching school, and acting like the parent of younger kids.2 This exploratory play often involves potty humor or potty actions and pretend pregnancy and childbirth. 

It’s natural for these kids to ask questions about body parts, pregnancy, and childbirth because they are becoming aware of cause and effect. They may ask questions like “where do babies come from?” and “how did I get in Mom’s tummy?” 

It’s important to recognize that kids this age are not asking about intercourse. The typical 6-year-old has no sense of sexual things. But since they are starting to develop an understanding of time, including the past and present,2 naturally they’ll begin to wonder where they used to be

Answer their questions simply using the correct names for private parts. Using uterus instead of tummy is a great place to start.

7 and 8-year-olds: boys vs. girls

Yardsticks teaches that seven and eight-year-olds may become more opinionated on the differences between genders. They also tend to play more with kids of the same gender. Now would be a good time to consider the comments YOU make about each gender. Since these kids will notice both positive and negative comments, we want to make sure both genders are talked about with equal respect.

These kids are still highly curious about the body, but this curiosity is mostly influenced by a strong interest in discovering how things work. They like to examine things in more detail and are interested in learning about processes.2 This includes more information about body parts and body processes. 

A natural, age appropriate question around age 8 would include asking how a female becomes pregnant. The thought of explaining intercourse to a child may make some parents uncomfortable, but this question is really just a simple explanation of a process.

By age 8 all of the following anatomy terms would most likely be mentioned in conversation even if they are not used in day to day talk.

Female anatomy

Vulva is the name used to describe all the external female parts. The vulva is the part of the body that kids are washing when showering. A grown up vulva can be covered in hair, which kids often will point out.

The labia are the folds of skin that cover the opening of the vagina as well as the urethra, which is where pee exits the body. It’s important for girls to understand that they need to spread the labia apart and wipe front to back after using the bathroom. They also need to clean thoroughly between the labia during bath time.

The vagina is a muscular tunnel that connects the uterus to the outside of the body. The vagina is an amazing muscle that can stretch big enough to let a baby come through when it’s being born.

The uterus is on the inside of a girl’s body, in her abdomen, and is attached to the vagina. It is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. When a woman is not pregnant, it is small, kind of like a balloon that’s not blown up yet. But if a woman is pregnant, the uterus gets bigger and bigger over a lot of months, just like a balloon gets bigger when it’s blown up. When not pregnant, the uterus sheds its lining in what is known as a period.

The ovaries are two oval shaped organs on each side of the uterus. The ovaries hold all the eggs inside a female’s body.

An egg contains half of the genetic material needed to become a human being. Pregnancy happens when the egg is fertilized by sperm and implanted in the uterus.

The fallopian tubes are narrow tubes that attach the uterus to the ovaries. There are two fallopian tubes, one on each side of the uterus. When an egg leaves the ovary, it travels through the fallopian tube before entering the uterus.

Male anatomy

The penis is where pee exits the body. It is made up of a spongy tissue that can behave in different ways. Sometimes the penis may be soft and hang down and sometimes it can become harder and move up away from the body. All of these movements are normal. 

The scrotum is the loose sack of skin that hangs behind the penis. The scrotum will shrink and become tighter and closer to the body when a boy feels cold or it will relax and become more loose when a boy feels warm. 

The testicles, or testes, are two oval shaped organs about the size of a large olive. The testes are inside the scrotum and are responsible for making sperm.

Sperm contain half the genetic material needed to create life. When sperm fertilize an egg from a female body, it can cause pregnancy.

Using anatomy words in everyday moments

When families use the real words for anatomy in everyday moments, it sends a clear message to kids: it’s safe to ask questions or talk about these parts. Creating this environment of open, honest, and shame-free conversation really helps set the framework for more important conversations down the road.

Here are some ideas to help you when teaching anatomy to kids.

  • Prep kids for yearly doctor visits by letting them know that the pediatrician will check their whole body, including their private parts.
  • Ask your kids if they have heard of the word consent. Help them understand that it’s important for them to speak up if someone is touching them in a way that makes them uneasy, especially if it involves the private parts of the body. 
  • Include all anatomy in your typical list of after-shower questions (Did you wash your face? Your vulva/penis? Your feet?).
  • When a rambunctious kid touches another person’s private parts during tickle or wrestle time, use the correct words to help them know what’s not ok to touch. 
  • Actually answer questions about the feminine supplies in the bathroom. Feel free to open a pad or tampon so they can see what it looks like. Explain that a tampon is placed in the vagina and a pad sits in the underwear against the vulva. 
  • Pregnancy is a great conversation starter. A simple comment like, “I remember when I was pregnant with you…” or “Isn’t it amazing that a woman’s body can grow a baby?” gives an easygoing opening to more conversation.
  • When new slang words are learned, take the opportunity to help your child compare those words with the correct anatomical names. Which is more respectful? Is it appropriate to use slang terms in your family?
  • Introduce the word pornography. Pornography is showing or taking pictures of people’s private parts. Share your values about how pornography treats human bodies in a disrespectful and dangerous way.
  1. Maureen C. Kenny and Sandy K. Wurtele. “Toward Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Preschoolers’ Knowledge of Genital Body Parts.” Florida International University Digital Commons. Accessed 30 March 2021.
  2. Chip Wood. Yardsticks: Child and Adolescent Development Ages 4-14. Center for Responsive Schools, 2017.