Go to any online parenting forum (particularly Facebook) and you’ll come across an extensive list of ‘cutesy’ terms that parents use for their children’s private parts.
Flower. Cupcake. Oopsy Daisy. Winky. Hosey. The list goes on.
There may be any number of reasons that parents choose to use these words. They may not like the actual words (penis, vulva, vagina, testicles) because of cultural or personal preference. They may find them vulgar. They may want to retain their children’s innocence for as long as possible and use ‘cutesy’ terms to protect that sense of childhood.
The trouble is though, from a child safety perspective, you’re not actually protecting that much.
The argument for using anatomically appropriate terms for body parts
There is psychological grounding in the argument for assigning all body parts their appropriate names. When we give things code names we unintentionally also assign them shame or the need to be secretive about them. Children may become embarrassed talking about those body parts as they will think they are naughty, rude or wrong. Correcting children AWAY from using the proper terms is telling them that the body parts they are referring to are wrong, sinful and shameful.
How does this impact child safety?
If your child is confident in their knowledge about what their body parts are called, what they are used for and how they should be treated (and by whom) then you have given them the gift of confidence. They will be more able to protect their dignity, tell someone if something untoward is happening and properly identify their own rights to privacy.
Consider also the confusion these ‘cute’ names may give the child. If your daughter refers to her vulva and vagina as a ‘cupcake’ – what do you then call cupcakes? Are they to forever be associated in your household with vaginas? It sounds silly but consider the importance of language and the need to be clear.
Call Them What They Are
There is nothing shameful about using appropriate terms for body parts. Let’s teach our children that their bodies are their own and that, when it comes to child safety, they have every possible tool in their arsenal at their disposal.
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