Friday, 2 November 2012

What is this?

About a month ago, Kah Yen suddenly started to use the phrase "What is this?" all the time when she saw new things or read new picture books. She must have picked up this from our reading sessions, during which I usually point at familiar things and ask her "What is this?" so that she can say their names.

It is a good thing. And we are more than happy to tell her things she doesn't know to help build up her vocabulary. Hence we always make a point to hear her and answer her question, even though sometimes I have to say "I don't know, let's ask Daddy later".

Then came the day when I knew the answer to her question but didn't quite know how to answer it.

Last night, after bathing her, I wrapped her with a dry towel and lay her on our bed, as I was wiping her body dry, she suddenly point at her private part and asked me "What is this?"

Not quite prepared for this, I answered with a moment of pause and hesitation "That's your backside."

I hope you are not laughing at me right now. The husband did when I told him the story after I came out of the room. He said "How can you bluff her that's her backside, when it is obviously not!" I thought it is alright to say that's her backside, since during diaper change or bath time, we may say "Let's wipe/wash your backside." but we always wipe/wash both the front and the back. Hence we can treat that as part of the backside too, or maybe part of the backside assembly at least.

Anyway, the point is, there is no need for her at this age to know exactly what is it called right? I am pretty sure I myself did not know until I was in secondary school.

Apparently, my 23-month old daughter doesn't think so, for after I answered her question, she pointed at her buttock and said "Backside is here."

This girl is too smart for her age!

"Okay...well... yes backside is there. And this is where Kah Yen pee pee."

"Where Kah Yen pee pee." She repeated then turned around to look at other things in the room. I guess she accepted this explanation for now but I am not sure if she was really convinced. And soon she will realize "Where Kah Yen pee pee" is not really a name, and why every other part of the body has a name and this one doesn't.

I never expected my daughter to ask me this question at this age, I thought we can just go about life without explicitly saying its name. I am sure by now you can see that I am quite a traditional person, who feels rather uncomfortable mentioning names of private parts.

This morning the first thing I did after turning on my computer was to type into Google "How to teach your kids about private parts?" Thank God for the internet.

As I browse through, I find that most parents are open about teaching their children private parts and most doctors advise us to do so (These are all westerns of course since the sites are in English). In summary, these are the points I gathered:

1. Teach them the proper names
2. Teach them the same way you teach any other parts of the body, so that they won't feel awkward, uncomfortable or ashamed of their private parts
3. Teach them to use the names appropriately
4. Emphasize that they are their private parts, they should keep them private and don't show to others. Nobody can see or touch them except Daddy, Mommy and Doctors, or the child's other caretakers

Okay looks like I will have to pull myself out of my comfort zone and be cool about this whole thing. I don't think at two-year old she can understand the meaning of private yet so I am just going to tell her the name, and then warn her not to say the word too much.

I have a reason. A few months ago when she started to notice her nipple, I taught her the word. Then the next moment when Daddy came in, she shouted excitedly "Nipple nipple, Kah Yen nipple, Daddy show nipple". I quickly moved out of the house before she asked to view mine.

Any parents here have different advise on this subject? I especially like to hear from you because most of us are Asian parents, our culture is still very different from the west.


  1. Gosh, not easy. I can't imagine what I'll do if Sophia starts shouting the names of certain body parts in public.

    By the way, for some reason, Sophia has been using "what's that" instead of what is this. Sigh...

    1. I have the same fear too. Sometimes Kah Yen came back home repeating certain words I don't understand, she must have picked up from the two Korkor (My Nanny's grandchildren, both preschoolers). Sometimes I wonder whether those are good words!