26 answers

Is Touching Genitals Normal for a 4 Year Old?

My 4 year old daughter has recently started touching her "girly parts." During bath time she will play down there and even rub herself through her jeans during the day. Should we just ignore it or should I tell her it's wrong? She hasn't been exposed to movies or situations that could spur this so I don't know what to do.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

This is normal and is not "wrong." What you may want to tell her is that this is okay to do in private (when she is alone).

1 mom found this helpful

I would imagine it's normal. When you find something that feels good, you will do it again.

Anyway, my son discovered his parts and would frequently touch himself. He already knew about good touch/bad touch at this point. I explained to him that this was a sort of bad touch. If he feels he has to do it, he has to be in his room (or the bathroom) with the door closed. It might feel good, but it's not appropriate to do it were others can see you.

I hope this helps.

More Answers

Hi E.,
I first came across this when I was working in a Daycare. A little girl would do exactly that while taking a nap. How my boss had me handle it was to nicely let her know that it is nap time, not play time. I did some research after that and found out that they do not do it for sexual reason as adults think of it. They do it because it feels good, not knowing why. My tip would be to let her know that it is not appropriate in public or at school, etc. But not to treat it as something bad or forbidden.
Hope this helps,

2 moms found this helpful

My personal opinion- God gave of bady parts that feel good to touch so that we would want others to touch them as we got older, so that we would have children. It is perfectly normal to want to experiment- to them it's just another body part- nothing sexual about it at all. And yeah, it feels good to them...
IN our family, I try very hard to not make my daughter feel badly about her body, and I feel like if I start making her feel like certain body parts are "dirty" she will have a harder time in adolescence. Little boys "play" with themselves and they are "just being boys." My question is why do we treat little girls differently when it comes to this.
I do however teach her that it is not ok to touch ourselves in front of other people
Yes, your daughter is completely normal

2 moms found this helpful

This is normal for her age, Ignore it if you can and you can tell her this is somethng we do only in our room. She is learning about her body. Also if you haven't done so it is a good time to talk about good touch bad touch.

2 moms found this helpful

This is normal and is not "wrong." What you may want to tell her is that this is okay to do in private (when she is alone).

1 mom found this helpful

It is perfectly normal to an extent. I guess if it was constant I would be wondering if she maybe has an infection you are not aware of...have you asked her if she is sore, or itchy there?
I would tell her in a kind way that is not appropriate, however you don't wanna make too big of a deal out of it, because then it becomes something dirty to her, and it is natural.
I have an 11 yr old girl and 2 boys that are 7 and 9...and through the years I have learned that there is so much that is natural when it comes to exploring their bodies, and even other siblings and friends. I can remember a few times I freaked out!!! But found out by talking to others it is normal. Just teach her that, and make her comfortable now talking to you...you will figure it out!
good luck,

1 mom found this helpful

She doesn't know what she's doing...she just knows it feels good. There is nothing wrong with it at all.

You can put boundaries in place. "If you want to do that you have to go to your room because that is a private thing"

Dont' shame her or tell her its bad/wrong/gross etc.

1 mom found this helpful

first i think i would make sure it wasnt physical. even little ones can get yeast infections.
then if it isnt, i would explain to her that that is something you do in private.

Well, considering how normal it is, it's hard to see how it's wrong. It is socially-inappropriate behaviour, which is why parents are urged to encourage their children do handle themselves in the privacy of their baths and bedrooms.

Your smart little girl has worked out that there is a nice, friendly bunch of nerves all clustered together there, and is doing what any sensible person would do: creating a small place of pleasure in her busy day. She just needs to know that we don't handle private parts, even 'over clothes' in public.

Your daughter may have developed a sensitivity to the chemicals in your laundry soap. Because jeans are usually a little bulky and fit snug, she may feel an irritation or experience "itching" when the clothing is pressed to her body, and not even realize that something doesn't feel right. Bubble bath is also very irritating. Read the fine print on the bottle if you use any. All are made with chemicals, and many will state to discontinue use if an irritation developes. Consider limiting bath time to to once or twice a week and make them short. Most soaps are very acidic and actually destroy the protective mantel that our body oils supply. She may also be experiencing a yeast infection. Check her underware for any signs of discharge. Many children have been on lots of antibiodics by the time they are 4 or 5. If her diet consist of sugar cereals, or other simple carbohydrates foods like juice, (always dilute with purified water-juice has to much natural sugar) pop etc. yeast infections may develope because these types of diets feed yeast. Antibiotics destroy the good flora in our intestines that keep our bodies immune systems strong. It takes several days to replenish this "good bacteria" in our intestines but it can be done by adding "pro-biodics" to our daily diets.
Also, have her urine checked for a possible bladder infection. I think you may find that this "problem" is something that is coming from an external source or irritation. . .and nothing more.

My friend's 4-year-old went through this same stage. Her pediatrician said it was normal and she would outgrow it but in the meantime advised my friend to not make a big deal of it but just tell her daughter that that was something people do in private so if you want to touch yourself there, you'll have to go to your room. More often that not, it wasn't a conscious thing and her daughter wanted to stay with her mom and play with her toys much more than be by herself.

Touching genitals is completely normal. First ask your daughter if she is having itching- make sure it's not a physical problem of irritation. Don't tell your daughter it's wrong because then she will develop feelings of shame about herself or her sexuality. When she's older, she may also feel shame when she's suppose to enjoy feeling good after she's married. Try to stay as non-emotional about the subject even though it's unnerving you. There is a time and place for everything. Quietly, gently, matter of factly tell your daughter that touching herself is a private thing to do and it's not polite to do that in public. If she wants to touch or rub herself then she needs to wait until she can go in her room. She will probably lose interest because she has to be alone and if not, she will learn how to handle herself and her urges appropriately around others. You cannot stop her from feeling good (and if indeed she is, what a blessing! I wish I had known my own body more before I had gotten married) but you can teach her how to be polite and appropriate about her own sexuality.

i actually just read in one of my magazines that they do it b/c they find it soothing and not sexual and you could explain to her that she shouldn't touch down there unless she's at home in her bedroom. it was actually a good article but i can't remember if it was parents or baby america.
good luck....

I would imagine it's normal. When you find something that feels good, you will do it again.

Anyway, my son discovered his parts and would frequently touch himself. He already knew about good touch/bad touch at this point. I explained to him that this was a sort of bad touch. If he feels he has to do it, he has to be in his room (or the bathroom) with the door closed. It might feel good, but it's not appropriate to do it were others can see you.

I hope this helps.

my neice did this and found out she had the start of a yeast infection. that is why some kids do this. make sure this is not the case, otherwise, yes some kids do this. mine have and there is nothing wrong. hope this helps.

I worked at a daycare for a few years and though I haven't experienced this personally, there were a few children at the daycare with this issue. We dealt with it by explaining that touching this area was something that needed to be done in private, and if we saw them doing it out in the open, we asked them to go to the bathroom. They usually got bored with it in a few weeks.

I have a 4 y.o. daughter, and this is totally normal behavior for their age. I think the most important thing is to not shame her . . . don't make her feel like she is doing anything wrong. Just tell her it's something that should only be done in private. Also tell her that she should always wash her hands before/after she touches herself in her private area. Make sure her nails are kept short and clean. Teach her to clean under her finger nails when she washes her hands. This will prevent her from injuring herself or causing a yeast or bacterial infection.

There's a post about an almost identical issue from a week and a half or so ago that's full of great suggestions. I couldn't find it but I'm in a hurry too.

Thank you for putting this out there ~ I'm glad to know others had kids going through this too ~ I have just started going on this site from a friend and have read some of this situations - But haven't found one that hit us yet - and this one did - I was nervous about this because I didn't think this would happen so young. We were hanging out with a group of people and let our kids play together - They went into the bathroom with kids play make up and nail polish - I went in there to check on them - To make sure they weren't do anything like putting stuff in the toilet and not getting nail polish on anything and found the two girls both with pants off & one with panites too - I freaked out - They said one went pottty and pants came off while on the potty and the other said I was going to go next - I think they were talking about their privates -But not sure ~ I may have overreacted but I said this is inappropriate for the two of you and got the other parent right away. I said they could play together but NOT in the bathroom anymore ~ They are close freinds- but I think they may have been exploring together.

It's definitely normal. All little girls and boys check out their privates. Definitely don't get upset with her about it but let her know that that kind of thing should only be done in private so she doesn't start "playing" in the store or something.

I would suggest taking her to the doctor. Many times when little girls touch themselves it is a sign that someone else has touched her. I would definately take her to the doctor and rule this out. I don't mean to freak you out but I used to work for a doctor and that was always a sign we looked for.

Completely normal. My 31/2 year-old girl does this too and we have told her that it is something done in private and should not be done in front of people. The only thing I do suggest is to make sure that she doesn't have a yeast infection or having any kind of reaction to soaps or detergents.

It is perfecly normal at that toddler, preschool age. However, you may want to ask her if it itches as it could be a yeast infection too. More likely then not though, it could just be her realizing she has it so she wants to understand it more.

It is TOTALLY natural. I don't really have any advise for you, but I do have a funny story I have to share.....I to had the same concerns with my 4 yr. old daughter when I walked into her room and found her pantless on the bed - legs wide open just looking at it and touching. She told me it looked funny and asked me what it was. I just acted like it was no big deal and told her those were private parts, and the only time private parts should come out is when it's bathtime or maybe at the Dr. A couple days later, same thing, up on the bed legs apart. Again, not wanting to make a big deal out of it for fear of encouraging her I asked her what she was doing. And she looked me straight in the eye and with her eyes all big and her most serious face - she said "momma, my private part has a hole in it!!" She was devastated. After I did my best to stifle a laugh I calmly told her that it was supposed to - but please don't try to put anything in it. She just said OK and that was the last time I caught her like that. so far she seems to have passed through that phase somewhat - I wish you luck!

I would think its totally normal. Your daughter is just exploring her own body, but you will need to figure out a way to talk to her about it in a nice way to let her know that what she's doing is not a "bad" thing, but it would be better if she did it in private.

Don't ever tell her it's wrong. Just pull aside and tell her that we don't do that in public. She's young and that should be enough for now. All of my kids have gone through this and eventually it will go away. If you tell them it's wrong they will think it's wrong when they get older, along with other sexual things (I don't remember where I heard this, but I fully believe in it). Also, I believe that if you explain things as much as possible your child will come to you with any questions instead of going other places (which I already see in my 8 year old son). Good luck!

While I was a day care teacher at Kindercare, I did some some of the 2 - 4yr olds doing this. Its normal... My son did it too...
I would pull my son aside and have him stop. I wouldn't make a huge deal of it cause it can kind of make it worse. I think sometimes he'd do it and not realize he was. Its a just a phase... she'll move on after a bit.

At the day care we were told to just move their hands from their pants and take them to wash their hands and explaining how thats inappropriate to do....

good luck!

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