NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) stated on its website that using a variety of words to refer to the penis or vulva can be “really confusing for children”.
The NHS trust’s sexual health service, Sandyford, is encouraging parents to “tell it like it is and use accurate terms from an early age”.
Jill Wilson, health improvement lead at Sandyford said: “Many adults were not taught these words growing up and can feel uncomfortable using them as they can be thought of as ‘sexual’ words.
“Young children do not have these associations and usually consider these words to be as normal as ‘hand’ and ‘leg’.”
The NHS Trust has created a website to provide information for parents and they have also released a short video (above), which they hope will “make parents laugh”.
In the film, a young girl describes male and female genitalia as “penis” and “vulva”. Her dad initially looks shocked but then later agrees these are the correct words to use.
Wilson added: “Most parents want their kids to direct their curious questions to them but sometimes we need a hand with how to answer them.”
Commenting on the advice, Amanda Gummer, child psychologist and founder of Fundamentally Children told HuffPost UK, that focusing on the language parents use is not as important as encouraging them to speak openly with their children.
“It’s more important that you’re able to talk to your child about these body parts openly and sensibly and give them names you’re comfortable using,” she said.
“The English language is full of euphemisms and idioms, it’s just part of how we speak. I would rather a parent call it a ‘front bottom’ and be able to talk to their child openly and have their children be able to talk about it too.
“I don’t think a big deal needs to be made out of the name, it’s whatever parents feel comfortable with.”
In a blog for HuffPost, also in January 2017, Jayneen Sanders wrote about why she believed we should start teaching kids the words “vulva, vagina and penis” over pet names.
“Using the correct anatomical terms helps explain to children the changes to their body as puberty kicks in,” she wrote.
“The topic can be discussed without making it into a joke or belittling its importance.
“Body parts such as the penis or vagina should be as ‘everyday’ to your child as any other body part, for example, an elbow or nose.”
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