Teaching your son about his penis is probably NOT one of the things you were most looking forward to when you discovered you were having a baby boy.
But the doodle is a source of constant wonder and excitement for little boys (and men).
It’s also something that needs a bit of an explanation. Why does it get hard? Should I stretch it? And why can’t I take it out and play with it at the dinner table? (If you’re a mum of girls, I bet you’re breathing a sigh of relief right now!)
Well, when it comes to boys’ penises, we have ALL the answers to those common questions. And so much more! So strap yourselves in for a wild ride as we navigate through the woes and wonders of our little boy’s penis.
What should we call it?
Penis? Doodle? Willy? It’s up to you but experts do suggest we stick to the correct terms when teaching our kids about body parts. There’s more on that subject in our story I Say Penis, You Say Doodle: But What Should We Say Around the Kids?
Why does it get hard?
The obvious reason is sexual attraction. But this isn’t quite the case for little boys who will still experience erections out of the blue and most likely ask you what is going on. Sometimes it could be because he needs to pee. Other times it really is just out of the blue.
A good way to explain erections to boys is to consider the penis like any other part of the body that sometimes does unexplained things. Your eyes sometimes twitch. Your foot sometimes falls asleep and tingles. Your tummy sometimes gets hiccups. And your penis sometimes gets hard.
Stains on the sheets?
Totally normal. Also a little bit awkward. But when your boy hits puberty (usually around 11 or later), the wet dreams tend to follow. You may prefer to just clean the sheets without discussing it or you may prefer to pass this conversation over to Dad.
If you want to keep things open, honest and as nonchalant as possible, just explain what a wet dream is – when they get an erection and ejaculate without knowing it has happened.
Explain it happens to all boys and men and that it’s nothing to be worried about. Then let him know that the wet spot is also nothing to be ashamed of – nope, it’s not pee – and that it’s all part of the process of growing up. And don’t forget to tell him to put the stained sheets on your already massive pile of laundry.
How do I clean it?
When we teach our kids how to clean their teeth, we usually lead by example. So you might want to ask Dad to take over on this one and show your son the way. In general, there is no need to clean inside the foreskin in young boys – just wash it the same way you would wash the rest of his body.
Once your son’s foreskin is able to be pulled back without force, he will need to pull it back in the shower to clean it, as part of his bathing routine.
Why can’t it come out at the dinner table?
It’s important for kids to understand that their private parts aren’t a source of shame. But that doesn’t mean they need to be displayed at the dinner table.
To convince your nudey rudey to put it away, go with the protection angle. People wear sunnies to protect their eyes, gloves to protect their hands and pants to protect their penises.
Why can’t I use it as a play weapon?
The easy answer? Because it’s not a weapon. It’s not a sword. Or a gun. It’s a body part and waving it around could injure it.
On the subject of injury, it’s a good idea to explain to our boys just how sensitive their penis and testes can be. If they are hit there, it could give them quite a shock, cause them to feel sick or even spew. The best way to prevent injury is to protect the penis by keeping it in their pants!
Why is my penis different to that of other boys?
Ahh.. circumcision. An interesting topic to say the least. Again, how you choose to tackle this one will depend on your view on the subject but explaining the facts is probably best. Some boys have an operation to remove the foreskin from the end of the penis. Others don’t. Both are completely normal.
Porn on the computer?
Another fun discovery! Where’s Dad when you need him? How you respond to these situations will impact your son’s view on sex so it is important to tread lightly.
A good idea is to normalise the situation and try to stay emotionally neutral. Yes, it’s weird and probably a bit distressing. Yes, it’s a sign that your little boy is not so little anymore. Deep breaths. It’s all good.
Try not to scold him or make him feel ashamed about what he’s doing. Instead, explain the ground rules on porn (you’re the mum so you get to make these rules up) and ask him if anything he saw upset him or scared him. It’s such a mum move, I know, but it’s best to keep the conversation lighthearted and to let him know you’re open to discussing anything, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable.
Bluff your way through it now and treat yourself to a wine later. You deserve it.
There’s a few books that are great for tweens and teens (and mums too). Check out Secret Men’s Business by John Marsden, The “What’s Happening to my Body” book for boys by Lynda Madaras and The teenage guy’s survival guide by Jeremy Daldry.
The Woman’s and Children’s Network also have a really straightforward guide on Secret Boy’s Business that is great for boys who really don’t like reading all that much.
If you’re looking to bring up the sex talk with your sons, then check out this Controversial Children’s Sex Ed Picture Book.