Your Kids Need to Know the Real Names of Private Parts

Jan 5, 2022

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.

It’s concerning that kids can tell you all the details of their favorite movies, characters, sports, or hobbies, but they often don’t know the real names of their private parts.

Why is this an issue?

Because kids will follow the unspoken rules in your home. If ALL body parts are NOT talked about in the same open, healthy, and respectful way then kids inadvertently learn that these private parts are just that — private. As in something that they don’t discuss with parents. 

Not talking about kids’ bodies doesn’t mean they’re oblivious. It just means that they’re getting their information somewhere else — friends, siblings, books, movies, Google. Who knows.

But conversations about private parts are really vital. They set the stage for more important conversations about sexual safety, hygiene, consent, self-respect, and relationships. 

This is not a conversation you want to miss out on. Here are 4 reasons why.

1. Respect for all bodies

In today’s world of sexism, sexual violence, and non-stop sexual messaging, respect has never been so important.

According to, respect means to have “a sense of the worth or excellence of a person.”

Kids should grow up understanding that their ENTIRE body is valuable. There is nothing disgusting, shameful, dirty or crude about knowing the correct names of their private parts and their natural functions. 

We want kids to grow up feeling good about their own bodies, no matter how many perceived imperfections. Kids that develop this sense of personal identity and value tend to become more assertive, confident, and secure teenagers and young adults. 

This increases their understanding of consent, sexual safety, and sexual communication, all of which you’ll read about in this post.

Kids are getting persistent messages from media that their personal worth is tied to their sexual attraction. This is absolutely false and is so dangerous. 

These messages are targeting even elementary aged kids. These kids are young and impressionable and they are believing these messages — and getting hurt by them.

This is also true when kids think about the opposite gender. Remember how respect means “to have a sense of the worth or excellence of a person?” Respect for ourselves changes the way we view and treat other people. 

It’s no secret that boys and girls are different. These differences should be celebrated because they’re actually very complementary. Truly, both genders work well together when relationships are built on respect.

Males and females do not need to be in a state of constant competition. They can be different and both just as valuable.

Parents should take time to reflect on their own attitudes, feelings, and the comments they make about both genders. Would you want your kids having these same opinions or making these same comments? If not, it’s time for you to make some changes.

Consent means to have “permission or approval” and “agreement in. . .a course of action.” Kids need to hear the word consent spoken and know its definition, even at young ages.


Because it’s crucial for kids to understand that they have the right to accept or refuse physical touch. 

No means no and stop means stop even when young kids say it.

We need to give them opportunities to express this consent and gain the skills necessary to do it WELL.

So practice. When your kid is upset, ASK if they want a hug and then respect their response. If they don’t want to kiss Grandma, they have the right to say “no, thank you” and know you’ll stand behind them. No pressure if that’s not how they want to display their affection. 

Family tickle fights are great opportunities to practice this. As soon as someone says “no” or “stop,” the tickling stops. Always. They need these opportunities to practice.

Consent also means respecting another person’s choices. Kids need to be taught that they always listen to and respect how others would like or not like to be touched. 

3. Communication in families

Using slang words for private parts is common in families. They’re used because they seem easier or less embarrassing than the real names of private parts. 

But that just seems silly. We don’t call noses “sniffers” or hands “touchies.” We call them what they are — noses and hands.

In fact, excuses for not using the correct names for private parts might be about something you hadn’t considered. There is nothing wrong with using slang words in conversation. Just make sure that your kids can and do use the correct names first. They’ll learn the slang words in time. Trust me.

Treating every body part with equal respect by using the right name sends a strong message that it’s ok to ask questions about EVERY body part. It doesn’t matter if it’s the elbow or the vulva, the armpit or the penis. 

Every body part can be a part of open and casual conversation within your family. The real names of private parts aren’t embarrassing. They’re just words. And respectful words at that.

Really, the only alternative to this open conversation is to simply not ever talk about it. That means that every other place — the internet, friends, pornography, movies, music videos, and everything else — will take your place. 

It’s a huge risk. And if you love your kids like I know you do, you won’t take the chance. That’s why your home MUST be that place where open and honest conversation about the body can thrive.

This open communication sets the stage for some really important concepts. It gives your kids the understanding that the home environment is a safe place to ask questions about private parts. This is truly helpful especially as kids go through puberty and you find yourself with teenagers in the home.

And did I mention it’s really important for sexual safety?

4. Sexual safety

There is a lot to cover when it comes to sexual safety. Parents want to do everything in their power to keep kids safe.

Experts agree that knowing the real names of private parts is essential to teaching kids about sexual safety. Kids must know how to communicate if sexual abuse happens — to parents, medical personnel, and investigators. They need to know that they are safe when talking to parents about this topic.

Kids should know the following:

  • It’s not ok for others (besides parents and doctors) to ask to see or touch the private parts of the body.
  • It’s not ok for another person to ask a child to touch THEIR private parts. 
  • Body secrets are never ok. Some “games” that involve showing or touching private parts may appear unthreatening to a child, especially if played by someone well known (like a sibling, babysitter, friend, or relative) but these activities will likely progress to something more abusive.
  • No person should take pictures of private body parts. No person online or over text should ever ask for a picture of your child’s private parts. 
  • Kids have the right to say “no” and “stop” if asked to do something that they find uncomfortable. Help them know what to say and do to get out of the situation and to seek a trusted grown-up’s help.