"Bad" Words

When did “penis”, “vagina”, and “breast” become bad words? Why do people get so worked up about them, and why is it so seemingly inappropriate for a child to use them? They’re the correct names for those body parts – like hand, arm, nose, and toe. What’s the big deal?

This is one thing I’m not quite sure what to do when it comes to Evan. I want him to know those words and body parts are normal. I don’t want him to feel shame or embarrassment. BUT, when he’s older, I also don’t want him pointing at people’s crotches and telling them they have a penis/vagina, or whatever else kids do!

For the parents of older kids out there: how did you handle this?

For everyone: why do you think these words are so “taboo” in our culture (or at least in North America – is it different elsewhere?).

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Comments on: ""Bad" Words" (7)

  1. My kids have learned the correct words and so have most of my friends' kids. Although we've taught them “boob” because that's what I say!

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  2. I have a post on this somewhere in my blogger archives. I personally don't like using anatomical names. It sounds weird to me. Not because I'm embrassed, but its so non-childlike. IMHO, if you're comfortable with your body and with discussing your body, your kids will be comfortable to. Mommy has boobies and monkey as a peepee. He's never asked about how I go pee, so I haven't figured out that one yet 🙂

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  3. My younger son, age 4, knows he has a penis (was a peepee, but not any more). Mom has boobs. Since I am pregnant now, he knows there is a baby in mommy's tummy and there is a special way for the baby to come out, but we didn't get technical (cervix, vagina). He's curious about how I go to pee since I don't have a penis, but I just tell him girls have a little bit different and hidden peepee that you cannot see. My older son (age 11) also refers to breasts as boobs, even though he knows the proper name. They have had human growth and development classes at school (grades 4 and 5) so he's now well versed in his anatomy terms; he had lots of questions (we ended up drawing uterus and ovaries and vagina from front and side). Also, some years earlier, he asked what goes where during sex. 🙂

    I told them both when they were little that we don't discuss private parts like their penises in public, but it's OK to talk about them at home. We also don't grab mommy's boobs in public! 🙂

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  4. Ray knows the correct words, but he doesn't use them in everyday talk, I guess you could say he uses the jargon most kids his age would use. (He calls his penis a weiner (no idea where he got that) and when his brother is crying he says “I think he needs a boob.”

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  5. C is 9 and I don't use technical terms when we talk. He knows what the proper names are, but if I'm talking to him about anything I usually say something else. I usually use the terms “Boy parts” and “Girl parts” because in the middle of a conversation it's easier for him to remember that. I'd rather say it in a way easier for him to understand than say something that he maybe isn't completely sure about so that I have to stop the whole conversation to re-explain the specific part.

    He also knows the basics of how sex works and where babies come out of. That's mostly because he was old enough to understand a little more when I was pregnant and asked a lot of questions. I just felt it was best to be straight forward with him.

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  6. It's so interesting to hear how everyone handles this topic differently. Thanks for sharing, everyone!

    GMP – I had to laugh at your comment about telling them not to grab your boobs in public! LOL!

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  7. I have yet to see how things will progress as he gets older but my best friend especially thinks his little penis and balls are hilarious and whenever I change her in front of him she says: “Awww, lookit your widdle balls and penis!” Hahah, so funny because she says it in a baby voice to him but using the proper terminology, haha. Anyway, I'm sure James will end up calling them as we do–boobs, vagina or vag, penis . . . obviously we'll avoid the . . . uh, actual bad words though. 😉

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