“Head and shoulders, knees and toes” are not all the body parts your children have. Teach your children the correct names for all of their body parts. Helping your child to correctly name body parts is a great start for caregivers who want to establish ongoing open communication with their children about sex and sexuality. The earlier you start, the better: think as soon as your kids can speak, and well before they reach school age.
Talk about and point out eyes, ears, nose, elbows, shoulders, vulva, vagina, penis, scrotum (as appropriate), all in the same neutral tone. This normalizes talking about all of our body right from the start. Conversations about body parts can lead to discussions about appropriate versus inappropriate touches. Explain to children that nobody is allowed to touch any body parts unless it is for hygiene or medical reasons, and that they have to ask permission.
Abusers are less likely to target children who use correct names for body parts because it is a signal that those children have been empowered and educated in body safety. Furthermore, pet names or cute terms could impede a child’s ability to report victimization or make others understand what they are trying to say.