How do I stop him from playing with himself?

Sarah - posted on 09/23/2011 ( 35 moms have responded )

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How go I get my 2.5 yr old to stop playing with himself! I posted a few months ago that since he started potting training he's be obsessed with it. I followed advise and told him to only do that in the bathroom or bedroom but that isnt working. He thinks its funny to pull it out and poke it at people. I am trying to ignore the behavior but then I feel if I ignore it he'll keep doing it. I dont want him chasing his 12yr old sister with his weiner! LOL Its sorta comical but its really not appropriate. What should we do?

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[deleted account]

I have 2 boys (4.5 and 2.5) and they both explore their nether regions. One is a bit more obsessed with his penis than the other, but knowing boys, the other will probably catch up sooner or later. Their favourite time to masturbate these days is at night. I think they've discovered that it's relaxing. Although, my eldest has found it to be a great way to relieve stress throughout the day too.

My suggestion would go along the lines of Jenni's. However, I would add that perhaps you should examine what sort of thoughts and behaviours are being conveyed to your son about his body. Does everyone tend to run and hide their nudity from one another, or is nudity not an issue? We have never had any issues with "inappropriate" behaviour like exposing a penis to people. The reason I think this is the case in our family is because nudity is no big deal. A penis is no big deal. A vulva is no big deal. Our boys have seen us naked almost every day of their lives and we have never said that it's inappropriate to be nude in the house (or even out in the yard). Instances of public nudity (like changing in a public swimming pool locker room) is no different to changing clothes at home. I've never scurried off to a toilet to change, even though I absolutely HATE my body, because I wanted the boys to think it's a giant case of "so what?". As you can see, nudity is an absolutely pedestrian thing to us, so our boys have no desire to expose themselves knowing that there will be no reaction. My eldest now understands that there is a time and place for masturbation and nudity, and that certain things should be kept private, but he's 4 1/2.

Take away the desire to do such things in a public area, by not doing anything. Not only don't react to what's going on, but seem indifferent to it. He's too young to really get that he's supposed to play with his penis in private because people deem it "inappropriate". Don't see it as inappropriate, but rather ignore what he's doing altogether because it's no big deal. He's only a toddler learning. He will learn on his own, in his own time, that it's not a good thing to masturbate for an audience. In the meantime, I'm sure his 12yo sister knows how to put on that bored look that teens do so well, combined with the eye roll... and then just walk away.

Good luck!

P.S. I've been told that once a boy starts masturbating, he doesn't stop until the day he dies. :-)

Kristin - posted on 09/25/2011

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Our son didn't start that until he was 4 at which point he was obsessed for about 3 weeks or so. I just kept gently reminding him that if he wanted to do that, he needed to go into his room and be in private and that it wasn't something we did in front of other people because it was considered impolite. Thankfully, his obsession didn't last long and he quickly lost interest.

I agree with Jenni who said not to make a huge deal of it. One, the more of a deal you make of it, the more he'll do it. Two, you don't want to give him a stigma about his body.

I strongly disagree with the poster who suggested to smack the child's hand. In my personal opinion, that would be the wrong way to go about it. Then again, having grown up in an abusive household, I'm not a big proponent of hitting a child for any reason. I don't care if it is "just a smack" and not hard. IMHO, the only thing is teaches is violence but, that's just my opinion and I am heavily biased due to my past.

Bottom line, this is a normal, healthy thing that all children - especially boys - go through and if you just calmly and firmly tell your son that it's not appropriate and to go to his room or the bathroom and do that combined with everyone else - his sister especially - just kind of non-reacting, this will go away as quickly as it came about.

Best of luck!

Jenni - posted on 09/23/2011

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The more you draw attention to it. They more he'll do it. Try not to react or at least overreact.



I think it's fine for children to explore their bodies. At this age it's really difficult to explain to him that it's inappropriate to do it in front of others. A simple, "Honey, that's a private part that we keep private" message will suffice.



By what you described he seems to be more enjoying the reaction he gets for whipping it out and showing people. So eliminate the reaction as much as possible. This means no laughing, no punishing, no smiling (easier said than done), just a simple, calm message that it's a private part.



My son's currently going through this phase (he's 3 years old). And he became a bit attracted to the idea of showing his penis off to everyone after he got a big reaction from his 4 year old sister when my husband taught him to pee on a tree when we were camping. She thought it was funny and was laughing and making a big thing about it. So he started saying to her "Look my penis!!!" and laughing thinking it was a big joke. My husband freaked out, "NO BEN!!!!! Don't do that!" Which fuelled the fire. So now we've talked about it and trained ourselves not to overreact and the appeal is wearing off quite quickly.



If he chases his sister. Tell her to calmly walk into her room for a few minutes and shut the door, without saying anything to him or making eye contact. Her actions of leaving and ignoring him will help to teach him that people won't give him a reaction to it and that people are not impressed by his behaviour.

Helen - posted on 09/24/2011

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my 2 1/2 year old does the same, but doesn't have a big sister to chase with it!
It is a stage all boys go through, and they do learn that it isn't acceptable to do in public, eventually!

He's exploring his body, and also seeing what boundaries there are. Like Jenni =^;^= says - the bigger reaction he gets (of any type) the more he'll do it, so remove all reaction and just tell him to 'put it away' in a very matter of fact way.

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Joy - posted on 06/23/2012

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Laura, I remember the Bible reference you're talking about with Noah being drunk & naked. However, you should look up that story because you got some of it wrong. Its Genesis 9:20 - 27.

Noah had 3 sons. The youngest, Ham, saw Noah was drunk & naked. Ham told his two older brothers, Shem and Japheth. The two older brothers grabbed a blanket and walked backwards into the tent Noah was in so they wouldn't see their dad and put the blanket on their dad. When Noah came out of his drunken stupor, Noah cursed Ham's descendents to be the slaves of his Shem's & Japheth's descendants and blessed the two older ones. NO ONE was executed at least according to my Bible which is NIV. What Bible version are you using?

While I agree that seeing their dad naked shouldn't have been that big of a deal, I also think there is something missing from the story. It's only 8 verses long. Was the youngest one making fun of their dad when he told the others? Was Noah more than just a little drunk and maybe needed help somehow that the youngest didn't provide?

Anyway, this isn't a Bible study. American culture has been pretty Victorian, but I thought it was getting better. At least in my family it has been getting more open through the generations. In my house it is clothing optional as long as we don't have visitors.

Laura - posted on 06/22/2012

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Teresa...WOW...where did you learn these incredible concepts?? this is not the middle ages any more..I am a Naturopathic Dr. and child and family counselor..( i agree with Georgia~~ ).......all children need to be taught by example,that the human body is beautiful,NOT nasty or vulgar or evil,.

there are many families who are members of COMs that are nude families and personaly i feel that is the most healthy and spiritual way for families...

Now I and many families in this world believe that every-day realities such as erections ,and masturbation should be accepted as totally normal and natural,..see my reply to post" why do 5 yr old boys play with their body parts."..this will be a real EYE-OPENER.....

.........the ignorance embedded in American society from the decrepit Victorian age; and bongo cults,still reigns in 2012....in one culture a drunk dad was naked on the floor of his tent and his son covered him with a blanket ...the little boy was executed for seeing his dad naked...his dads name was NOAH.

we moms do NOT wish to saddle any poor unsuspecting innocent child with shame ,guilt and anxiety,perhaps for life.....children..should be respected.............as I say in my lecture tours...to remind we grown-ups of true freedom and innocence,we have our little children's example...

Sharlene - posted on 06/22/2012

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Hes curious of course, He will understand and out grow it evenually . Just keep reminding him not to do that to people,good luck mum

Laura - posted on 06/22/2012

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Sarah,see my reply to post:" why do 5 yr olds play with their body parts"...the answer is simple and as a Naturopath Dr. and counselor,it never fails to amaze me when moms don't understand ,it is just because it feels good ............but nearly all have been programmed with this Victorian silliness about the body and natural feeling being bad....adults ignorantly ascribe adult sexual dynamics to a little child......this can cause anxiety and can cripple for life.......

.tell your 12 yr old daughter not to run but ignore........you said .."pull it out" so i take it that he is not nude around the home...( many members of COMs..are nude families and have much less problems with such . again he DOES NOT KNOW about sex....teach him that the body is ok..very natural....but let him understand that if .

he teases...the family will just ignore him...the worst thing possible is to saddle him with shame and guilt..........perhaps try telling him that he can feel free to be himself.and be nude sometimes( when there are no visitors),but that he must not tease,and demand attention...our 7 kids are free to be naked in our home when they wish...we respect their wishes.......never punish a child for things as nudity,playing with their organs,erections ,or masturbation,,,we heard a case on the news of a parent nearly beating a 4 yr. old t nearly death for seeing him with an erection in the bath-tub. we moms must see more positive ,and try to bring that about,instead of the negative. This is Laura Mornings,Admin. of Nature Moms community..

Claudia - posted on 10/27/2011

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He is very young, and it is hard to explain the real reason, but he is in an age that he may be taken to time out as consequence of bad behavior. Explain to him that it is not nice to show his pipi to others and it is not nice to chase his sister eather and everytime that he does it he will have a 3 minutes time out. Use a timer so it can help him to undestand how long 3 minutes will take. Be consistent and do not give warnings, if he does it, time out. I have a 4 year old boy, and a 22 months old boy but they did not quite went this far yeat, but my nephew did and my sister did that and it worked for him. Good luck and remember that you are a good mom that is doing the best you can.

Michelle - posted on 10/25/2011

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Mine just turned 4. He's not obsessed, but he does amuse himself with it. I always tell him if he wants to play with it to do it in the bath tub. If I catch him in the bath I ignore it.

Kelly - posted on 10/05/2011

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The only time he's actually told off for it is if he has a dirty nappy and then I'm really just trying to limit the mess. Lol.

Kelly - posted on 10/05/2011

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My 2 yr old has a fiddle during nappy changes and occasionally in the bath. I just tell him y"yes, that's your willy" and that's it. He's just trying to figure out what it is and what it does. It's nothing sexual. sometimes if he's got no nappy on for a while, he'll tuck it between his legs or stand and shake it around a bit. But nudity is no big issue at our place. We don't walk around naked or anything, but it's no big deal to get dressed in the lounge in front of the heater if its cold. And I don't hide away in the bedroom to change his bum either. It's done pretty much wherever he is when I figure out he needs to be changed. I don't hide in a toilet at the pools to get changed. I also get changed in the car occasionally. So nothing like that is a big deal to him.

Devini - posted on 10/05/2011

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My little brother used to chase me to when we was younger! And now my 2 stepsons (4&5) are the same way! Lol we just explained to them both that they can do that when alone (bath&bedroom) they still try in public but seldomly. They are learning and understanding. The doctors told me do NOT get onto them for it or any reason what so ever. It will only make them want to do it more!

[deleted account]

Teresa, telling him that it's yucky and "bad" can actually create problems for him when he's older. A toddler is too young to understand what he is doing and is just exploring his body. To create a healthy self-image, it's important not to make natural curiosity into something wrong in the mind of the child. It's not that he is trying to "show off", he's just exploring. It is only when someone reacts in an amusing way will it goad the child to performing (by showing his penis at inappropriate times).

I would advise against doing the things you've mentioned, simply because it could harm the child's developing self-image and psyche. Who wants their son to grow up thinking that his body is ugly or that he is bad for wanting to explore it? While we can rationalise that what's being said is not actually "your body is ugly", a child cannot. Since that is the easiest and simplest conclusion to come to when one is told "yucky!" about a part of one's body, it stands to reason that a toddler with very limited capacity for understanding will conclude this.

Carlie - posted on 10/04/2011

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Lol u cant stop them my son is neery 5 n he will notstop hes dad still plays wiv hes lol good luck

Carlie - posted on 10/04/2011

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Lol u cant stop them my son is neery 5 n he will notstop hes dad still plays wiv hes lol good luck

Carlie - posted on 10/04/2011

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Lol u cant stop them my son is neery 5 n he will notstop hes dad still plays wiv hes lol good luck

Elizabeth - posted on 10/03/2011

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I agree with most of the posts. I would add that as a way of not making a big deal of it and also a way to distract him, I would offer him a favorite toy- that isn't his penis,- ask him to help you with something. Think of something that will direct his attention elsewhere. Also, kids of any age love getting attention, even if it's negative. He seems to be getting attention by doing that, so maybe if you offered to read him a story, play a game or do something with him, that may help. I would make sure not to bring any attention to what he is doing, just divert it elsewhere. Good luck!

Teresa - posted on 10/03/2011

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unless you want him "playing" with til the day he dies starting at 2 1/2 you need to get him to stop. you could tell him no touch, yuck now go wash your hands. my son never spent time playing with it, not more than once or twice. i smacked his hand and told him no as a young toddler, as a baby i pulled his hand off it. now as a young boy i tell him its only for holding to pee. he knows its definatley inappropriate to be showing off to anyone. i don't know how anyone thinks its ok for kids to play with themselves even in private. those are private parts used for peeing and then after they are an adult to have special relations with their spouse.

Kristin - posted on 10/03/2011

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@ Rita - I'm actually more shocked to read that you've never seen a young child behave in this manner before. In my experience, it's a normal reaction, particularly if the first time he did it, people laughed and he got a positive reaction from doing it. I mean, really, the kid is TWO AND A HALF. Most likely the way it went down is that he was being naturally curious, pulled it out and commented on it and his sister, being a young girl, squealed and ran away, half laughing, which caused everyone else there at the time to laugh as well. Seeing that he got everyone to laugh and react so strongly, the kid thought it was funny which is why he's repeated the behavior. It's the same thing when a young kid says a bad word and, the first time he does it, everyone laughs and so he/she does it again to try and elicit the same response.

IMHO, being stern with the child and making a huge deal out it and/or shaming him for it, the only thing that will be achieved is to make the child uncomfortable about his body. The right way to handle it is to NOT make a huge deal out of it. Simply tell the child that his penis is a private part and that it's not okay to take it out and show it to people and/or chase his sister around the house with it. If he does it again, calmly but firmly tell the child again that it's not appropriate and keep repeating until he starts to apply the correct behavior. Beyond that, again, the bigger the fuss the parent makes, the more he'll do it and/or may develop a complex about his body.

Leisha - posted on 10/03/2011

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My son is the exzact the same at the moment..they are learning about new things n descovering it lol i have been telling him to stop n that it will fall off it seems to have worked goodluck! oh n to the person who first wrote on this.. you may wanna read it properly she never said that he was chasing his 12yr old sister with his weiner! get ya facts first before u go making assumptions!

Terri - posted on 10/03/2011

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Like a lot of the other moms on here. I also told my son who is 3 that those are private touches and it is only when he is in the bathroom or his room. He sometimes forgets when we are out in publc and I usually just ask him what he is doing and when he is supposed to do that. Then he tells me and puts it away

[deleted account]

I have two boys. They are 4.5 and 2.5. We have a rule in our house. You are allowed to touch your penis, however, it can only be in their bedroom or the bathroom. It's ok for them to explore their bodies. We didn't want to give either of them a complex about themselves, so we just made that rule. They know it and if they try to play with it in the living room, I just remind them of the rule.

Heather - posted on 10/02/2011

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You IGNORE it! Stop talking about it. When he is doing it, just pretend that you don't notice it. The more attention you give to him doing it, the more he is going to do it, just to upset you. Try buying some Overalls! Oshkosh makes some great ones, and sometimes, around this year, the Goodwill is stock full of them for a few bucks each!

Keri - posted on 10/01/2011

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The old wives tale it to tell him it'll fall off. My son thinks its funny to pull his out sometimes too, but the minute I see it and tell him to "put it away" he does so. Is Dad around? If not, is Grandpa or Uncle or another male role model around? Have them talk with your son about how things like that are inappropriate.

Kathy - posted on 09/27/2011

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i wouldn't' stop him from touching himself but i would tell him that he can do that but only in the bathroom or in his bedroom.

toddlers are curious little things. my dd sometimes does that after bath and will look at me for a reaction so i tell her "that's fine but just do it in the bathroom or in your room". i don't make a big deal about it. i don't laugh about it either (even though i want to) because if you draw attention to it, he'll do it even more because he thinks you think it's funny.

Joy - posted on 09/25/2011

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Not sure how to solve it - I don't have a boy, but from what I've read its a boy's favorite toy for quite awhile. I recall while I was growing up playing with a boy in elementary school age who whipped out his penis like that in a pool. None of the girls would go back into the water.

Amanda - posted on 09/24/2011

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My son is 4 and a half and its still his favorite toy. I've explained to him its his private area and that he needs to leave that behavior for his room or the bathroom. It has helped a little but I still regularly catch him touching it even in his sleep. Lol oh and I caught him in the bath last week shaking it and singing a song about it.... I think this may be a loosing battle that we as moms may never understand or accept.

Amanda - posted on 09/24/2011

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My 2 1/2 year old is the same way. His hand has taken up residence in his pants, like an old person retiring down south where its warm. He is constantly playing with it & pulls it out in front of everybody. He has an 8 yr old sister that, of course, screams every time he gets "it" near her & he finds this hilarious. He also loves to point out when it is "big" and that completely horrifies me. Fortunately, it isn't a problem out in public (knock on wood), but it is an everyday battle at home. Just knowing that he is normal & I'm not the only one going through this, makes me feel a lot better. Good luck to everyone!

Ashley - posted on 09/24/2011

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My son will be 3 next month and does this sometimes. I explain to him that it is rude and that I do not want to see him do it. I tell him that if he wants to play with his penis he needs to go to his bedroom. I also explain that his penis is a secret and that only mommy and daddy are allowed to see it (aside from sibilings of course). So far it seems to be working...and it worked like a charm with my older son who is now 4, he actually covers his penis if we are changing him and friends or relatives are over. Good luck!

[deleted account]

We (my girls and I) just tell my 3.5 year old son that we don't want to see him doing that. We also tell him that it's not a toy. Doesn't really work, but we don't make an issue of it.

Stefanie - posted on 09/23/2011

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smack his hand (not hard, just to get the point across) - tell him that we don't play with ourselves in public. Do it every time he does it, be consistent.

My son was curious about himself, but he never chased his sister around while touching himself. Is not appropriate. No matter what age he is.

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