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Jennifer - posted on 10/13/2010
my daughter does this ALL THE TIME!! i consulted her pediatrician about it, and while they said it can cause some irritation of the genitals, it is perfectly normal for this age. they are learning their bodies and learning what touches feel good. what we tell our daughter is that it isn't okay to do in front of other people, so she has to do it in private, like in her room. i don't want her to be embarrassed of her body, but i also dont want her to be an exhibitionist!!
Alicia - posted on 10/13/2010
My daughter actually will do touch herself if she's naked, or in the bathtub. Most of the advice that I've gotten about that, (and it's worked so far) is just to calmly tell the child that that's not appropriate to do in public. That they can do that by themselves in their room, in private, alone, or something to that effect. A couple of my gfs have told their kids that "that's not a toy" and that has had varying results. They don't have the hormones at such a young age to think of it as anything sexual, they're just exploring their bodies. That's what kids do. Generally speaking, when kids do stuff and you get too forceful with them, it can almost seem to egg it on. I know this can be a really controversial topic, especially as some people can consider it a sin. I understand their perspective, but a 4 yr old isn't going to understand that. They can be taught about God, sin, and all that, but they're too emotionally immature to comprehend a huge concept like that if that's the way your family is religiously oriented. (I don't know how else to word that.)
As for touching other kids, I think it might be best to take the same approach, and just tell him that's not something that people touch on each other. This might actually be a good time to give the message of "no one should touch you there, and you shouldn't touch them there either" except Mommy & Daddy for baths/washing/etc. You can obviously find your own wording, but I had that talk with my daughter that way. It also opens the way that if anyone ever should touch your child (I pray to God that it never ever happens, but better safe than sorry) that they will know that it's not right and will tell you.
I know it's really unsettling and uncomfortable, but being very calm but firm should help I would think. Just try to make sure you don't sound angry or disgusted, as they don't know any better. They're just kids. K has responded very well as long as I'm persistent. It took a month or so, but she got the hint. Also, keeping them clothed as much as possible can help with that. K never did it when she was wearing panties AND pants.
I guess it would just be what works best for your child to make them listen that it's not publicly appropriate, and not sound like you're angry or disappointed with them because they won't understand why. I hope that helps!! Good Luck!