At this age, kids become inquisitive about everything they see and hear. They start noticing the difference in their body and yours and ask embarrassing questions as and when their will strikes. It is important as parents to encourage our children to ask questions and clarify issues but we must admit that questions about genitals and private parts sometimes gets a little awkward most especially when they start touching their genitals in a public setting and asking to know this or that.
It is, however, important as parents to know how to handle our toddler’s newfound/ sexuality curiosity. Note that, it is common and healthy for a child to explore different parts of his or her body. It is the parents’ responsibility to teach the child about their body parts and its function, we must desist from keeping things away from them and the idea of calling these body parts different names.
Whether it is the genitals or eyes, treat each body part equally and answer all your child’s questions with complete honesty.
Here are a few helpful pointers that can help parents handle such a situation and talk to the child better.
- Do not shame or reprimand your child: There should be no shame in being curious about their own or their parents’ body. Toddlers are very inquisitive and will notice that their bodies are different from their parents. They will also realise that a girl’s and boy’s genitals are different. If your toddler comes to you with questions like this, do not reprimand her. Explain to her that genitals are what differentiate a boy and a girl. Also, name the parts as it is, do not shy away from saying penis or vagina. Treating a particular body part like taboo will leave a negative impact on your child.
- Distract your child: If you are in a public setting and your child starts to ask embarrassing questions or starts to touch herself, try to distract her. Also, teach her that she can ask some question in private when you are alone with her. Do so without attaching any sense of shame to the subject.
- Educate your child: This is also the right time to teach her good and bad touch. When she starts getting curious about vagina or nipples (penis and nipples in boys’ case), tell him or her that these are sensitive areas that only parents’ or caregivers (name them) can touch. And what she should do lest anybody tries to touch her.
- Could be a cue for peeing/ pooping: If you are potty training your child and she is still to be vocal about when she wants to take a tinkle, touching her vagina or bum can be a sign of she needed to go to the bathroom. Ask her if it is so and tell her to use words if she needs to pee or poo.
Communicating with and educating your toddler is very tricky and essential. Teaching about body parts and how our body functions are too much information that you will need to serve in toddler-sized bites.