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My Toddler is Touching His Privates!

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Reply Date

Jun 18, 2019

Question

After potty training my son and having him naked for many days, he found out it feels good to touch himself. I tell him nicely that he shouldn't do that. He still does it a lot; I am mortified when he walks around in public with his hands down his paints. Or when he watches tv or sits and reads a book. Almost wish we had never let him go naked to potty train. Any advice?

Counselor

Answer


My Toddler is Touching His Privates!

In this counseling answer:

•I would kindly suggest that when he does touch his privates that you do not yell at him, or tell him he is bad. Rather pull his hand away and divert him to another activity such as a toy, a game or other distraction.

•Ask him if he needs to go to the bathroom and take him. Often times a child will touch themselves if they have to use the restroom.

•Explain to him in terms he can understand that his body part is private and not to be touched in public.

•Additionally, when you divert him from the activity and he stops, praise him for his good social behavior. It will take repetition and patience on your part, but in time these behaviors should stop.


As salamu alaykum,

Children at this age and younger do discover that touching oneself on their private parts feels good. Even babies are reported to touch themselves often by accident but find it pleasurable none the less. And guess what, it usually occurs around potty training time.

EverDayHealth states “Your child’s new love affair with her genitals is fueled by age-appropriate curiosity and is as innocent as her exploration of her fingers and toes. You may notice this behavior around the time you switch her to training pants (accessibility is key) or when you begin potty-training (her private parts have now become the focus of a lot of public attention)”.

My Toddler is Touching His Privates! - About Islam

So, what your son is going through is normal. It is an age-appropriate curiosity and response. While it is now a behavior that is undesirable as he is doing it in public, or while engaged in an activity, rest assured that he is not doing it purposefully as some older children who know better may. He is merely reacting on a primitive response from pleasurable stimuli.

I would kindly suggest that when he does touch himself that you do not yell at him, or tell him he is bad. Rather pull his hand away and divert him to another activity such as a toy, a game or other distraction.

Ask him if he needs to go to the bathroom and take him. Often times a child will touch themselves if they have to use the restroom. If this is not the case, if you take him to the restroom when he is touching himself, he may associate the bathroom with self-touching. I don’t know how old your child is, but explain to him in terms he can understand that his body part is private and not to be touched in public.


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Additionally, when you divert him from the activity and he stops, praise him for his good social behavior. It will take repetition and patience on your part, but in time these behaviors should stop.

While these are normal reactions on his part and a natural response concerning growth and development, they are behaviors which should be diverted but not punished or made a big deal out of.

The more emphasis and focus you put on it, the more he may do it as he is getting a big reaction. If you yell or punish him or tell him he is bad, he may develop low self esteem about his body, sexuality and functioning when he is older.

A fine balance is needed to stop these behaviors but with patience and consistency it can be done! We Wish you the best.

Salam,

***

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About Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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