Parenting expert warns against using ‘pet names’ for children’s genitals | #parenting


A parenting expert has said it is important for mum and dads not to use ‘pet names’ for their kids’ genitals.

Best selling parenting author Sarah Ockwell-Smith says even though parents may ‘cringe’ using words including ‘vulva’ and ‘penis’ in conversations with their kids, it’s important we use the correct terms when referring to their body parts.

The specialist in psychology and science of parenting says one of the reasons is that if a child is ever sexually assaulted, they will know the correct names for their private body parts – helping them to them convey what happened to them clearly.

The second reason was for girls in particular, as the parent coach said using other names can cause issues with body image and perception, impacting the relationship a girl has with her body as she grows.

Lastly, using the correct terms will help eradicate the ‘cringe-factor’ that so many adults struggle with.

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Sarah Ockwell-Smith

The parenting expert took to social media to share her thoughts, in a post which has now been shared more than 1,000 times.

She wrote: ‘Pet names – “floof”, “fanny”, “minnie”, “noonie”, “mary”, “fairy”, “lulu”, “willy”, “percy”, “bits” and so on, are ambiguous.

“This means if a child is sexually abused, they may struggle conveying what has happened accurately to an adult.

“For instance a girl saying ‘he touched my fairy’ may be misconstrued as somebody touching her doll without permission.

“Using the correct anatomical names is the best way to keep children safe.”

She also said using ‘pet names’ could cause body image issues when children are older.

She added: “For girls in particular, other names can cause issues with body image and perception.

“For instance, terms such as ‘front bottom’, ‘wee wee’, ‘bum bum’ and similar, subconsciously imply that the vulva and vagina is somehow dirty and equates it with urine and poo, rather than sexual pleasure and conception/birth.

“This can absolutely impact the relationship a girl has with her body – and sexual organs – as she grows.”

Many parents have commented on the post, saying they have always used the correct terms for their children’s body parts, with one pointing out we don’t have ‘pet names’ for other parts of our bodies, including our elbows, fingers and toes, so why should we for our private body parts?

One mum said: “So important, especially for girls when there are a ridiculous number of pet names for the vulva.

“We have used the correct names since they were born. It’s shocking how many adults feel uncomfortable when our family use these words but it goes to show why it is important.

“Language has so much meaning and using the real name is empowering.”

But completely disagreeing, another mum said: “Not sure I agree. Children have no filter so a young child does not understand when and how to use those words.

“Some children go through phases where they are fascinated by a new word or idea. Imagine the play date where it is all about dollies’ vaginas and penises.

“That is probably a good reason why dolls don’t have those parts included.”

How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7 by Joanna Faber is a must-read for all parents.





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