19 answers

4 Yr Old Always Touching Himself

My 4 yr old grandson has gotten into the terrible habit of always having his hands on his private parts. When he first started this about 2 months ago we assumed he would outgrow it. Now he does it all the time and really does not even realize he is doing it. We are constantly telling him to put his hands down or actually moving them ourselves but they go right back as soon as he focus is off us. We have talked to him about "Daddy doesn't do this" and nothing seems to work. It's like he is pinching or pulling himself. Could this be a medical issue? Has anyone ever dealt with this?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I completely understand. My almost 4 yr old does the same thing. It really bothers me but he only does it when he is naked. My husband is not at all concerned. He says my son plays with it because it is there & feels good & is something he will grow out of. My doctor says the same thing. Apparently this is normal boy behavior.

Just continue to tell him no and remove his hands. You can also use the phrase, "not a toy". Consistency without anger and frustration will help him outgrow this.

More Answers

My son is almost 4 and does this. We are teaching him to not do it in front of other people. We don't want to make to big of a deal out of it or make him feel there is something wrong with him. We went to a party of 4yr olds and he stuck his hand down his pants. I told him to get his hand out of his pants and the other moms laughed and said their boys do the same thing. I think is just a stage for kids this age.

All boys do it..it just is what it is...I have 3 boys they do outgrow it at some point it just feels like forever...I had one that was really bad about it..We use to tell him that it was okay if thats what he needed to do but to please go to the bathroom or his room so that our girls wouldn't see him do that. He got tired of having to leave all the excitment and stoped putting them down his pants and went to putting his hands in his pocket and soon that stopped too..so I'm wishing you the best of luck..Its a phase..and there are lots of them to go through so just remember it never last forever!!
R.

You are not alone! My, now 6.5yr old, son began the pinching behavior about the same time. It's irritating, yes but it's something that most little boys do (my best friend has 3 boys and confirms). I have to constantly remind him about it, but ultimately, it's worse when he's in pajamas without underwear.

We have made a rule of wearing underwear all of the time - no sleeping "commando". And, if he wants to pinch, don't do it in front of others.

Ahh, boys!

My 5 year old nephew does the same thing and I have questions too, but didn't want to ask my sister. I know they are working with him, but like your grandson, nothing seems to work. I am interested in what others have to say about this issue.

Welcome to the wonderful world of boys! I have 4 sons between the ages of 12 and 3.5. My husband was raised with a brother. When our first son was about 3-4yrs old, he started touching himself and it made me crazy. My husband, my father-in-law and couples we were close with that had older children ALL told me that this was a phase and it will pass- not to draw attention to it. I struggled with the first one....now 4 kids later I can tell you that it truly does stop- almost overnight. My older 2 boys are 10 and 12 and they never do it. My 5 yr old is the one who is still doing it. Our 3.5 year old I've just notices in the last month or 2 starting. He is also 'inspecting' when he is in the shower. The Christian books I've read about raising boys explain this time as an awakening/ awareness of their body and it distracts them occasionally. I am happy to tell you- that it really is ok, just 'don't draw attention to it!'

He could possibly have yeast.

I am on the same page with Jeris....I tell my boys that their penises are private and not to touch (yes the pinch and pull)...infront of other ..They need to do that in the privacy of their own rooms..It's happened at preschool ...And they said "He's not the first and he won't be the last"...It's normal....We just have to set boundaries without making them feel like it's wrong. :-)

I have 3 boys, and my oldest, 5 went through this, and my 3 yr old is entering this phase. It's natural, but I emphasize that their penises are for potty, not playing. Yes, it's a natural urge, and at their age they are innocent, but I most certainly will not teach my boys it's ok to do even in private. Definitely do not try to shame him or make him feel like he's being bad - gently remind him "hands", then redirect his attention and help him occupy his hands with something else. Play with playdoh, color, cook together, play cars, blow bubbles outside, anything involving the hands =) It tends to happen more when they are bored. Also, have you talked with his mother? Ask if she has talked to him about it and what does she do? I wouldn't worry - this too shall pass.

My husband is 36 years old and he still touches himself in front of me and my daughter when we watch tv as a family. When I bring it up to him he gets really mad and says its his body and he can touch himself if he wants too. I don't think this nasty little habit ever ends. I really wonder is something wrong with my husband.

J.,

Congratulations, your 4 year old grandson is completely normal! Boys do this, and it is normal. They are discovering their body/private parts, which is totally fine. You should not worry about this, as it is not sexual, since a 4 year old doesn't know what sex is. The bigger deal you all make about it, the more he will probably do it. Stop saying anything to him (other than to do it in private). Do not discourage him. It will confuse him.

Yep, this is the age! They all do it. I had 2 boys and it will drive you crazy but they will grow out of it. Stress private places for private parts please.

I have a 29 month old who has discovered "mr happy" and touches himself occassionally - more often than he did when he was younger, of course. Part of it's normal, but if it just suddenly started happening more than usual, maybe there's an issue. It has been VERY hot this summer, and my little guy had a rash from the heat, or perhaps he has an infection? If he can answer questions, see if you can find out what's going on. Honestly, it's normal, but he needs to know when it's appropriate to do - privacy is the key.

My grandson, who is 6 1/2 did this and ironically started at about the same age as your grandson. He too would "pull" at himself. We were constantly telling him "don't do that", "stop it", etc. About a year ago he finally said his underwear bothering him, so he got bigger underwear. This did not help, but like you, we were willing to try anything. I have him a lot in the summer and did not see him doing it at all this summer. We don't know why he stopped or what quit bothering him, but the behavior is gone. Hopefully your grandson will "outgrow" this too.

My son is almost 4 and he does the same thing. I have no idea how to get him to stop other than to tell him stop everytime I see it...I am sure he will outgrow it eventually so I am really not that worried about it! Plus I figured it is just a "boy" thing.

When my son was that age, I would tell him that it is not a handle.

I would try to explain to him that you understand it feels good to do that, and it is perfectly ok, but that it is something that needs to be done in private. Since he has been doing it for a few months now it may take quite a bit of reminding, but I'm sure it has just become habit. You don't want to make him feel that what he is doing is bad, just that there is a time and place for that, and it is not in public. Hope that helps! :)

This may not be it, but thought I would mention it just in case. My son started constantly pulling on himself around age 6 and we realized after a month or more that his underwear were too small! They were fine around the waiste, but the legs were tight and they were snug around the butt/pelvic area. Good luck!

Just continue to tell him no and remove his hands. You can also use the phrase, "not a toy". Consistency without anger and frustration will help him outgrow this.

I completely understand. My almost 4 yr old does the same thing. It really bothers me but he only does it when he is naked. My husband is not at all concerned. He says my son plays with it because it is there & feels good & is something he will grow out of. My doctor says the same thing. Apparently this is normal boy behavior.

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