Is it a willy or a penis? What words do you use around your children?


What words do you use around your child for their private body parts?What words do you use around your child for their private body parts?An NHS Trust is urging parents to use the “proper” names for children’s private body parts. But what are the proper names – and does it matter? What do you call it at bathtime, or any other time?

Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Trust says it’s confusing for children, so they have created a website to help parents and children alike understand what’s what.

The section on language says: “As you’ll know, there’s a fair bit of personal care involved in the pre-5 years, particularly from toilet training onwards, when you’re helping your child learn to wipe and wash their bottom and penis or vulva, so there’s everyday situations where you need accurate words to help your child learn new skills.

“It’s also the natural stage to help children start to learn that these parts of the body are private and what behaviours from and towards them are appropriate.”

Jill Wilson, Health Improvement Lead, 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’, ‘leg’ etc.”

A lot of it makes sense, and if it helps children and parents speak more freely about their bodies then it’s got to be a good thing. It’s really important children know about consent and their bodies so they can be safe growing up. For me, though, there’s something strange and biological about the latin-sounding names. It’s not like we call our eyes oculi, after all.

What do you think? Would you use penis or vulva with your little ones, or do you prefer winky or front bottom? What names did you have when you were growing up? Let us know in the comments. 


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  1. Who uses the “medical” terms anymore anyway? In our house, it’s a widge…though without a girl around (bar mummy) we are yet to have to use a word for the vagina. The wife is fond of “fadge” but I’m not so sure!

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