Dear avoid It Now!,

My 3 year-old hold his favorite stuffed pet at his reduced stomach area, lies ~ above his stomach v his eight under him, and also holds the stuffed animal in place while do copulating motions. He does this off and on during the day and also at bedtime. Ns feel that has end up being a behavior comparable to rubbing a blanket, or chewing ~ above a blanket -- something that feels an excellent and helps him go to sleep. Nevertheless, we space at a loss about how to discourage this behavior without calling his attention to it being sexual and making him more conscious of the behavior. Us don"t think he has actually seen anything inappropriate, yet that the just uncovered that that feels great by accident. Should we "lose" that certain stuffed animal and also hope the doesn"t choose up a substitute? should we shot to speak to him around it, and also if so, what should we say?


Dear came to Parent,

It can be uncomfortable for any kind of parent to watch your child find that the feels good to rub their genitals, and I’m so glad you’ve reached out come us v your questions. 

Recognizing healthy and balanced Sexual BehaviorsIt sounds favor what your son is law is age-appropriate, and at 3 years-old this behavior is what we contact ‘self-soothing behavior’ – comparable to ignorance sucking or, together you said, rubbing a blanket. You’re also correct that although this is normal and healthy, the still deserves a discussion approximately when and where this activity is appropriate. 

Although i wouldn’t take away his favorite toy, it might be valuable to have a conversation v him – no to dead him – however rather to redirect his behavior. You have the right to say something like, “I watch that you gain rubbing yourself on her stuffed animal. It might feel an excellent to obstacle your cock on Teddy, and that’s fine, however this is something that is excellent in private. Once you desire to rub your vul on Teddy, you have the right to go in your room and also close the door. A personal activity method something we execute alone – like when you watch me close the door come the bathroom, you know I desire privacy. The alright if friend forget sometimes, since I’m here to remind you, okay?” friend may even want come let her son recognize that “Teddy” needs to stay in his bedroom, come reinforce his understanding about what suitable behavior look at like.

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Safety PlanningThis can likewise be part of a enlarge conversation around body rules, i beg your pardon would encompass giving him specific names because that his genitals. Store the conversation going and also use teachable moments to speak to him about safety. When you’re providing him a bath, ask before you to wash his vul to version consent, and also remind that what his body components are called. Take the time to speak to him about healthy touch as well – come ensure the he understands exactly how to beat safely, and so he knows what to mean from other world as well. This help him thrive up with good information roughly privacy, respect, and appropriate actions – other we contact safety planning. You might be law this in your house already, and if so, i encourage girlfriend to store it up.

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You might still have to gently remind him about when it’s ideal to touch himself, and also redirect him to a an ext appropriate habits when he’s in a publicly area (like, if you’re the end grocery shopping, or also when you’re simply in the living room). If you watch this occurs when he is emotion a details way, you may want to help him name his emotion and also see what other sorts of tasks can aid him be sure – choose drawing, running around, or maybe simply lying down with the lamp off.

If your boy rubs self to the allude of hurting self or if this gets in the way of that enjoying other activities, then it would certainly be a an excellent idea to involve his pediatrician to ensure the there’s nothing going on physically that is making that uncomfortable.