A mum was stunned after she was called to the daycare office over her son saying the word ‘penis’.

The woman took to online parenting forum Mumsnet to explain what happened.

She says she was picking her toddler son up from nursery when the manager pulled her aside for a serious chat.

“Ok I am fully prepared to be told I Am Being Unreasonable but I really think I’m not, although my husband says I am,” she writes.

“I went to pick up my son from nursery today (he’s 2.5) and the manager came out before I walked into his room and asked me to step in her office.

“She closed the door and said in a very serious voice that my DS had told one of the workers that he liked his penis when she was changing his nappy. Then directly afterwards he said to some of the children that he likes his penis.”

“Then she just stared at me with this weird worried look on her face,” the mum continues.

“So I said “OK. I’m not sure what you want me to do. I think most little boys like touching their penises.

“She said that she understands that, but it’s inappropriate for him to use that sort of language in the nursery setting. So I said, ‘I don’t understand what you mean, he’s not cursing, he just said he likes his penis.’

“She said other parents may not want their children, particularly the little girls, to hear that word and that the nursery workers had gone to her and she had told my DS to stop saying it and explained to him that it wasn’t a nice thing to say.

“I got quite angry and said that I really don’t appreciate her doing that because it’s not a bad word and her telling him that it is will make him think it’s a dirty or bad thing, when it’s actually the correct word for it.

“I also said that if you don’t want him to say it, just distract him with literally anything else and he would have forgotten about it. She said, ‘Well I don’t know if they tried to distract him but I do understand that he’s young and children say lots of things. But I wanted you to know what happened so you could work on teaching him what is appropriate and what is not.’

“I said, ‘Absolutely not. I’m not giving my child a complex or making him think his body is something to be ashamed of. He’s 2 for gods sake! He doesn’t understand anything about what is socially appropriate and telling him that penis is a bad word seems bizarre. And furthermore, I do not want you or anyone else to tell him not to say it either. If he says it again, just distract him with something and he’ll stop.’

“She then said that she was just trying to avoid a situation where another parent gets upset because their child came home and said penis.

“I told her she can tell them that my son said it because his mother has taught him about all his body parts. Then we just stared at each other and I said that I had to go get DS and I was disappointed with how they had handled it.

“I came home and told my DH [Dear Huband] what happened and he said he couldn’t believe I got so defensive and that he told me not to call it a penis because of that very thing. He said everyone here says willy and it’s more socially acceptable. He said it was all my fault and the nursery was correct. I am genuinely blown away. Was I wrong?”


Her post has since been removed but parents agreed with her saying, “God forbid we call body parts by their actual name,” said one woman.

“Definitely not being unreasonable,” another forum user wrote. “The way nursery handled this is astonishing. I wonder if they’d have had the same reaction if he had said willy.”

How would you react? It all sounds a bit crazy really.

Share your comments below

  • Of course he should be able to use the correct term. Irresponsible of the day care centre to take offense.


  • I made the decision to teach my children the correct names for their body parts because THATS WHAT THEY ARE! I would have reacted the same way. I find it bizarre that it was considered wrong in this day and age.


  • Totally support this mum 110%.
    We’ve told our kids the proper words as there is nothing to be ashamed of.
    And agree if they had distracted him with anything else it wouldn’t have been a big deal


  • That’s ridiculous. We don’t have cutesy words for other body parts, so making an exception for genitals implies there is something shameful about them, which is not a great message for little ones. Children knowing the correct names for all the parts of their body can actually help them when it comes to saying “no” to adults if they come across grooming behaviour or inappropriate touching, and means they can tell their caregivers clearly about it if anything happens.


  • I think the daycare could have handled the situation differently. Maybe explain to the young boy that you don’t talk about your penis at daycare.


  • Utterly ridiculous! Children need to know their bodies! Children need to know what their body parts are called! For health, for safety, for basic bloody knowledge!


  • All the staff needed to say was that’s nice darling but we don’t talk about that to others or something similar. There’s nothing wrong with the word.


  • Wow! I think the nursery handled this badly and I do understand this Mum. I’m tipping the nursery would have a problem with any word he might have used. I taught my son from the start the correct names and I think it’s on the nursery to deal with this better.


  • Kids these days are being taught from a young age to use proper anatomy terms so they need to get on board


  • It’s so good that going by the comments so many of us are teaching our kids the correct names.


  • I think the child Gould of been distracted like the mother said or explain to her son that there are things you say around people and things you don’t and those things you do t talk about in front other people


  • Thought we were pass the stage of giving our body parts different names to what they are. Yes if it offends change the subject most children this age will if done.


  • Hmm I think we need to be careful of the language used in these situations. But how do you explain to a child that it is not an appropriate thing to talk about.


  • A real storm in a teacup caused by the staff at the day are centre. I would have thought that one of the reasons to put children into day care is soften the edges and teach them what is and is not acceptable to talk about. It was a logical normal thing for a toddler to say, and the staff should have automatically distracted him and got on with their day are duties [whatever they are].


  • I don’t see a problem with using the correct terminology. There may be underlying body shame issues in people who feel uncomfortable with the words. Whether using penis or something like willy, it’s still the same body part. I do understand both sides. Perhaps the mum could explain to her son that while he is allowed to express his feelings, not everyone is comfortable with it. That it’s not his fault and he has done nothing wrong, in fact she’s proud of him for sharing how he feels and using the right word, but this is how society is. Sometimes you have to keep certain things to yourself when at a place like daycare. It’s their rules, not hers. Something like that?


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