How to Teach Kids About Private Parts

Parents need to be honest with kids and let them know as much information about their bodies as soon as they're ready for it. That's the key. They need the information when they are ready for it, not when you finally work up the courage to tell them what this or that piece is for. Kids are not ashamed of their bodies and they shouldn't be. It's your job as a parent to keep them safe. This is one area where we all need to step up to the plate, for health and safety sake.

Bad Guys Look For Ignorant Victims

Check out this enlightening quote I found from a convicted child molester:

"Parents shouldn't be embarrassed to talk about things like this-it is harder to abuse or trick a child who knows what you're up to."

So let's take the bad guy's advice this time and teach our kids to protect themselves. Let them know what other people may be up to. If you don't, it's clear from the quote that someone else will.

Don’t Freak Out

You don't need to make a big deal out of teaching kids about private parts. Think about how you teach them to look both ways before crossing the street. You don't freak out. You don't make a big deal about it. You simply keep reminding them over and over until you know they've got it.

You go from holding your toddler's hand, to watching her cross the street by herself, to eventually adding on rules about bicycles and then driving a car. It's a cumulative process that takes a long time to complete.

Teaching them about their bodies is no different. People feel uncomfortable so they try to have one talk about "down there" and then never bring it up again. Bad idea. It's a long-term, cumulative transfer of knowledge.

But I Don’t Want To Frighten Them

You don't need to worry that you're scaring kids. In fact, the opposite is true. The less mysterious things are, the more confident kids will feel. If you're worried what the neighbors will think, explain to your child that this is information that all parents need to talk about with their kids in their own way and that they are not to go around school blabbing all their newfound knowledge.

Role-playing can be a good way to practice how the child is supposed to react in a given situation. Just remember it takes repetition.

Give them the words to use. For example "This is not my mom. This person is trying to take me. I need help." Kids need to know it's okay to make a scene.

Be Clear

Go as far as you want in explaining the biological functions of private parts, but be prepared to answer questions honestly. There's nothing to be ashamed of.

Be clear with boundaries too. A good rule of thumb is that private parts are anything covered by a bathing suit. And for older kids, sex is when any part of one person - from the top of the head to the tips of the toes - touches any private part of another person.

The most important thing is to nurture the relationship with your child so that she feels comfortable with you. Share with your child things that make you shy or embarrassed so that she knows you're not perfect - that you don't always know the answers either and that it's okay for her to ask for help. Take the time to let her know, not only in words, that she is free to discuss anything with you and she'll be safer for it.

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Comments 18 comments

Angela 5 years ago

That's very scary.Find someone who you can talk about this,maybe your mother,conselor.You need to help her right now. I would keep my daugther safe and from father in everyway even if have to live in different place. This nightmare will remind in her heart all her life


Elmstrom 5 years ago

i know this don't go with the subject but i need help my daughter is five years old and she is red in her private area and when i pick her up on saturdays she is always saying daddy keeps waking me up in the middle of the night what should i do....


Try hard not to lie 5 years ago

My children see each other naked and are comfortable with each others body parts. They see the difference and they know not to touch anyone and let anyone touch them, but they also respect each other and if they see a girls top fall off, or a boys pants pulled down they do not freak out, start giggling incontrolably and most of all and worst make the other child feel ashamed of their body- they just ignore and go on their own business. Adults cover up their 2,3, 6 7 year olds, yet allow the kids later on at 14 to barely wear clothes dressing them in mini skirts and tops that barely cover their breasts, and boys wear jeans hanging to their knees - really? Honesty is the best policy!


mahogany 6 years ago

My son is 5 and he is the one that is very touchy feely... he asked a girl to show him her butt and he'll be her friend if she did so, she did pull her pants down and then he touched the rim of her pants, i am very worried that something is wrong w/him. The day care director is thinking of telling cps as a possible child or child abuse.. I don't know or think HE'S been touched but thinking of having him evaluated... I had a long a serious talk w/him, told him about privates... the next day he's chasing his girl cousin playing w/her and pintches her butt *sigh* please any help would be appreciated.


Ryan Clinton profile image

Ryan Clinton 6 years ago from room17art@yahoo.com

Nice and unique article. I think society is full of contradictions and we need to work toward better sexual health. Being cool and honest with the kids really is the place to start. With TV they've got a lot of confusing issues to wade through


chele13 6 years ago

I meant to say above that it was NOT too bad of an ordeal...although anything that scared me like that is still bad enough.

Be honest with your kids and they will return the favor.


chele13 6 years ago

I had a situation occur recently with my 2.5 yr old son and a 6 yr old boy. I thought it was too soon to talk to my lil guy but i know different now. Thankfully it was "too bad" of an ordeal but one that woke me up to know its time. We already use th proper name for his parts but now we just need to go over what is off limits....


wowwie84 6 years ago

This is such a hard thing for me. I think that what your saying is good information. I just don't know when to stop stressing the issue, sometime I feel really mean. Its just the thought of something bad happening SCARES me ssoooo bad!!!


dee dee 7 years ago

Great point about private parts are what is covered by your bathing suit.

Thanks for a great article.


Ana 7 years ago

I was taught nothing and learned all on my own and I thought that worked just fine, until I had kids in this generation. There is too much out there, and not what they see on tv. I don't allow them to watch anything out of their age group, it's what they hear other kids saying or doing, it's turning the news channel and them hearing something horrible. It's another child touching them, it's tough.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Great hub! I believe if parents themselves are ashamed of sex or their private parts, then that is what they would transmit to the children. I quite agree...in the end, honesty does work and your relationship with your children.


highwaystar profile image

highwaystar 9 years ago from Australia

Hey Lela, you're doing a great job, and you've got your finger on the pulse really looking out for kids, thanks for sharing. A much better and safer way to educate and entertain kids is to give them the freedom to listen to stories on mp3 audio books. There's been a lot of research and studies supporting that both music, sounds and words have a much greater impact on learning while retaining more of what was learned for a longer period of time. In other words kids have fun and get much better results, go to: http://www.audiobookgiftshop.com


Lela Davidson profile image

Lela Davidson 9 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas Author

Don't forget to trust your gut too!


Pam from GA 9 years ago

My soon to be 5 yr old didn't ask me anything, but she began to tell me, "Mommy, boys don't have these." -pointing to her own private area, "They have these." -motioning what she thought a penis looks like. I had a few seconds to react as she was looking at me curiously and wanting me to confirm her statement. Being that I haven't read up on ways to talk to such a young child about this topic, I responded with," Yes honey. You're right. Girls have vagina's and boys have penis's." I also told her to keep her private area covered at school and in public. This was the end of the conversation and now I'm doing what I should have done a long time ago-researching age appropiate ways to talk to your child about private areas, sex, and sexual preditors. Thanks for the info.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 9 years ago

I don't think that there is a need for parents to actively teach their children about sex or sex organs. They should respond accurately to questions their children raise and let them learn naturally about the differences between boys and girls by observation of their siblings, babies, their parents and other children, paintings, statues and photographs. I don't remember anybody "teaching" me about sex until a high school comprehensive sex ed class. Long before that my natural curiosity had led me to learn quite a lot on my own from a variety of sources ranging from a shower at age 4 or 5 with a little girl playmate to the dictionary to Van de Velde's Encyclopedia of Sexual Knowledge.


jimmythejock profile image

jimmythejock 9 years ago from Scotland

this is a great piece of information coming at just the right time for me, my children have just started asking questions on related topics and i have struggled with what to answer, when i read you quote "Parents shouldn't be embarrassed to talk about things like this-it is harder to abuse or trick a child who knows what you're up to.",it made me realise that honesty is the best policy and I will try relate the information that my children ask for in terms that they will understand. thankyou for this article.........jimmy


livelonger profile image

livelonger 9 years ago from San Francisco

Excellent advice. The less we make children ashamed of what they're born with, the fewer problems we'll all have. And you're right that with kids, repetition is key with anything you want them to learn.


Woemwood profile image

Woemwood 9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

I hope those who need it will read it. Well written article.

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