penis talk

This I pass on for general edification:

Dr. Barbara Howard, a behavioral pediatrician at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore advises that parents have a little talk with toddlers when they are 2-1/2 to 3 years old. It addresses a common fear of small children who are not yet old enough to understand that boys don't turn into girls and girls don't turn into boys.

"Suddenly they notice that half the population doesn't have one, and they come to their own conclusion about where it went. After all, when they sit on the potty there's something that looks suspiciously like a body part that gets flushed away. So the boys decide that maybe they're at risk for losing their precious body part down the toilet."

The penis talk goes like this: "Boys are made with penises and girls are made with vaginas. Boys get to keep their penises forever. Nothing can take it away. Girls never had a penis; they'll have a vagina forever."

"They love this story," Dr. Howard relates. "They're really, really interested in it. You can tell because they usually talk about it later, generally in the grocery store."

Pediatric News, March 2000

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