2 Year Old and 'Private Parts'

Updated on August 02, 2009
M.C. asks from Minneapolis, MN
11 answers

Hi Moms,
My two-year old daughter will use the potty/toilet occasionally as we're starting potty training. My problem is that she keeps touching her self, sometimes she says it itches but not always. She basically seems to just hold her hands there. Not sure if she's checking when she's done peeing. I don't want to create a complex or to make her feel like her body is 'dirty' but I tell her not to touch herself because I don't want her to get pee on her hands, or at least be gentle if she does have an itch. She keeps doing it, and she's quite the persistant one. And throws a tantrum as I'm trying to wash her hands after. It all makes going potty not fun which is the opposite of what I'm trying to do!
Then, I also don't even know what to call her "pee-pee area". I've read that we should use proper medical terms but don't know which to use. Even the nurses at the hospital during her delivery would just say bottom or maybe perineal area...I grew up speaking another language so those words don't fit.
Any tips/advice? Thank you in advance!

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answers from Milwaukee on

As for what language to use, I've always used "bottom" with my daughter because I think of it as a general term for that area. "Vagina" just doesn't seem appropriate to me since that isn't really the area used for toileting.

Good luck!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I have 3 children, girl-12, son-10, and youngest girl-8 with one on the way in December.
I think the way a family names their Grandparents, or other family members and other things in the house has a lot to do with how you will refer to body parts and explain why mommy and daddy look different.
I mean if you talk in baby talk for other people or things or even you tone is how you would talk about life until older. If you start our that way and the child responds then go with that. If you are straight forward then call it what it is.
We used Pe-Pe for the girls until I noticed they were able to understand what we were talking about and gave it the proper name. I think that helps out in the long run. My oldest daughter has classes in Health and does not have a hard time with proper, medical names and terms when learning about the body.
We have always been open and honest with the world, people and especially if they had questions about their or our bodies. I really think it has much to do with what you and your husband are like, what you are comfortable with and how the children respond? That goes with saying about many thing in life you will approach when talking to your children.
I have not had any situations of my children touching themselves and having to tell them not to, but I do believe you handled it well when you told her she will get Pee on her hands. I definitely think a sanitation issue is the first and best way to explain to the your daughter about that. Be honest and open always.



answers from Rapid City on

Hi M.,
It is normal for them to touch themselves, more so boys then girls but the girls do it too. It is a new part of their body and they are curious about it. The toilet paper may also be bothering her a bit so if you can use flushable wipes it might help there. As far as calling her private areas what they are, that is up to you. If you call them by the proper medical terms, be prepared to be embarrassed when she anounces to someone "I have a vigina!" We call my granddaughter's her "bum bum". My daughter in law talked with her about private parts and how we keep them private. She is 2 also. At dinner she kept pulling up her shirt and her mother would tell her "keep your shirt down" Finally her mother said "remember what we talked about your private parts being private" "OH yes," she said, then turned to her grandpa sitting next to her, lifted her shirt and said proudly "Look Grandpa... I have BOOBS!" That is what she got out of her "talk". I don't think I ever laughed so much in my life as I did at that!



answers from Minneapolis on

I have two girls, and one of them is 2. She has just started touching herself, too. I am trying to just let it go, and I understand your position, because your daughter may pee all over her hands! But, urine is sterile. And somehow, can you figure out a way to let her wash her hands by herself? That may make it a bit easier. We sometimes wash hands in the bathtub- that way my daughter doesn't need a stool or to be held and she feels more independent.

As for the name of the "pee-pee area".....I have been telling my girls that that area is their vulva, and sometimes we use the term yoni-
Etymology: Sanskrit, vulva
: a stylized representation of the female genitalia that in Hinduism is a sign of generative power and that symbolizes the goddess Shakti.

Have you thought about using the language you grew up with, too, to name those parts?

Hope this helps!!



answers from Minneapolis on

Just call them private parts and she will learn. as far as touching, i think it is normal for this age...they are curious about body funtions (wait until they love to talk about pee and pooping all the time)...as far as hand washing...i have a little one that hated to wash her hands too...i tried all the fun hand pumps and still didnt work...what finally worked was the small (travel size) antibacterial pump from bath and body works..she can squirt it herself and i know she is at least getting a little clean. or i will also wash my hands first and pretend to help her rinse her hands...that way some of the soap i used will get on her hands too.



answers from Minneapolis on

I haven't read thru the responses you got so sorry if I'm repeating anyone elses. My answer has to do with the itchy part ofyour question. When my kids visit my parents, mom uses Tide or whatever else is on sale at Walmart. When she comes back home she always tells me "this is itchig me", I take her to the Dr, and she has come back home three times with bladder infections since potty trainrd wearing underwear that mom washed. I only use organic soap for our clothes at home. I told mom next time I'll be bringing laundry soap for her to use. She doesn't like it, but my daughters bladder infections aren't worth it.



answers from Minneapolis on

I think it's totally normal for a two year old to be very curious about her genitals [I would call it her vulva, or private parts if you are not yet comfortable to have her learn the real words], but if she is touching a lot, or holding her hand there, she could actually create an infection. Who knows what is on her hands when she does that. So it could truly be itchy if an infection is starting. I would work more on having her wash her hands before going potty to encourage her "feminine hygiene"...explain that there could be dirt or germs on her hands and it's not good to get dirt in her private area so she either needs to wash her hands or she can't touch herself [probably better to say dirt because it is so hard to explain germs at this point and you don't want her to start worrying about the little creatures all over her body! Of course everyone has loads of germs all over but to a 2 year old it might be a scary idea]. When she is done if she puts up a big fight to wash them again, maybe you could try having her use baby wipes on her hands when she is done and follow with a foaming antibacterial lotion. I wouldn't worry to much about pee- but make sure her hands are very clean after pooping



answers from Minneapolis on

We use the term vulva and also enforce that it's a private area and that it's ok to touch your own private areas in the bedroom or bathroom.

With the handwashing, give her the option of doing it herself. Consider taking her shopping for some fun hand soap.



answers from Appleton on

My daughter did the same thing. I was told they are just exploring their bodies and that she would grow out of it. She did.

Also, we refer to it as her "girl bottom". Just another phrase to use....

Good Luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

My daughter became interested in her bottom too right around the time she was potty training. They are just trying to figure out their bodies and where the pee pee comes from. Just ignore it. Sounds like she is rebelling a bit because you are calling attention to it. Just wash her hands if she gets pee on them if not just let her be. She won't hurt herself.


answers from Wausau on

I wasn't quite sure what words to use either, to be honest. So, for a long time, I did use "bottom" but then I found out that particular word makes it confusing for my 3 girls.

I say "bottom" and they think "butt" because some people say "sit on your bottom"

I really think you should use Vulva. It teaches girls that there is more to their genitals than just the vaginal opening and it will lead to less confusion in the end.

Unfortunately, we're transitioning to the word vulva these last few years. Our youngest (3) should pick it up quickly, the others are 5 and 9 so it might be hard to get them to switch words.