"Mumma, why do boys have a penis?": when my 6-year-old asked that "dreadful" question

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Needless to say, I was not expecting it!

"Mumma, why do boys have a penis?" asked my six-year-old girl when I was getting her ready for school last week. And before I could reply to her first question, she dropped another bomb: "What do you call the private part of a girl?"

Needless to say, I was not expecting it. At first, I didn't know what to say and to dodge it I gently asked her if someone in school asked her the question.

She started telling me that she wonders why girls and boys used different toilets and why is it that boys stand and pee? She then said that she read about it in a book on the human body in her library.

Now before I get to the point, let me also tell you that my six-year-old is an avid reader and can read anything and everything under the sun. Even books that don't have pictures and are not meant for her age. So she had indeed read it in her library book as she says.

"A girl's private part is called a vagina..."

But, the seriousness of her tonality suggested that it was a very, very important topic for her and one that had to be handled with maturity. So I took the bull by the horns and decided that I will not use funny names or another such lingo to explain her about the male and female reproductive organs as it would only confuse her.

So I told her, "Boys have a penis because they have been created like that by God."

"So what do you call a girl's private part?" she asked cutting me short. "It's a vagina," I said, adding, "but remember that they are private parts and no one is allowed to touch them, irrespective of whether you're a boy or a girl."

While I sure managed to stop the volley of questions and somehow I figured that she was satisfied with that answer, many of you mums would not agree with the approach I took. And there's nothing wrong in that.

Points to be noted...

However, I personally feel that when it comes to talking about male and female genitals to kids it should never be labeled as something that is "shameful" or inappropriate. Simply because it gives them the wrong message and also makes them believe that it is something that is embarrassing. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • They're curious: Just remember that the questions your kids have in mind are arousing out of curiosity about the human body parts and telling them what they are would only clear their doubts.
  • Don't be embarrassed: The more clear they are about that from the beginning, the better it is for their sexual health. Moreover, how would kids report about any kind of sexual abuse unless and until they're not sure of what is it that happened to them? If they find that their own parent is hesitant, chances are they will never ask you such questions again!
  • Be cautious: However, parents must also understand that even though you should be having an honest discussion with your kid, remember to also tell them that it's their private part and must not be messed with. Also, explain them about good touch and bad touch so that they know when to be careful.
  • Keep it short and simple: We all know that kids have a really short concentration span and giving them long speeches would not only bore them to death, chances are they've lost your attention even before you got to the point.
  • Know how much she knows: It's also important for parents to understand how much their child already knows about the topic. If you feel that your child would be comfortable discussing it in detail, go ahead. That's your call as a parent.

Lastly, I'd say that questions like these should never be avoided as once you start that trend, your child might just stop coming to you whenever she wants answers to her numerous queries. And, as a parent, this is the last thing you would want to happen, right?

Read: Talking to your kids about their private parts: Dos and Dont's