21 answers

My 5 Year Old Touches Himself

My 5 year old son has recently began wanting alot of privacy. He doesn't want me or anyone else in the bathroom when he goes which is understandable I guess, but I've seen him touching himself. He'll go in his room get under his blanket and play i guess. I don't know if this is normal and he doesn't do it infront of anyone but i'm afraid that his younger sister may see him or there may be some problems with that. I don't know where he's getting this from either.

What can I do next?

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Developmentally, this is normal for a 5 year old to "explore", so I would not be too concerned. I would suggest you sit down with him now that he is more aware of his body and explain what is okay and what is not okay. Most likely he did not learn this behavior anywhere but is playing. I would be concerned if he is asking others to see or join in on the "play".

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My son did this also when he was about 4. I'm sure you know that it's not a sexual thing. He has simply realized that it feels nice & is probably relaxing. All we did was remind our son that it was something that he did in private. Can your daughter open the doors? If not, remind him, since he already goes to his room, that he needs to make sure that the doors are closed. Yes, soon enough, your daughter will do something like this as well. It's just a phase. It didn't last very long here & probably won't for you.

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Trust me this is totally normal.My 4 yr old does it all the time.I asked him why he does it and he said that he likes doing it.He will lay in bed watching a movie and i will turn to check on him and he has his hands on it.Your little girl will probably do it too.They are just curious as to what it is and all.
With your son it will continue.Trust me.I have a 15 yr old who does it all the time.Well the difference is my 15 yr old has hit puberty.
There is nothing to worry about at all hun.It is all normal.

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I just want to echo that it is normal. Just as every child is different in everything else, so they will be different about this. I just made sure my boys, two of them, understood they could only do that in their room in private. Sometimes I will wake my 5 yr. old up in the morning, and his hand is in his pants. If he's doing it in his sleep, you know you can't control it. Sometimes I think little boys need to make sure it is still there!
And yes, someday your daughter will start exploring her body also. Again, perfectly normal. Again, need to be taught there is a time and a place.
Personally, I wouldn't worry about limiting how often, that will take care of itself. My 15 yr. old did eventually stop doing it all the time, and I don't really want to know what he is doing now.
R.

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You don't know where he's getting it from? It feels good! He does it for the same reason the rest of us do it. It's good that he understands that it's something to do in private, many kids, although younger, will do it anywhere and you have to teach them that it's something you don't do in public.
Whatever you do, don't make him feel bad or ashamed of it. It's something that will probably pass, but even if it doesn't, as long as it's not disruptive to the rest of his life (he still does other things with his free time, right?) it's nothing to worry about.

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M.,

Sounds like normal exploration to me. Your daughter will probably go through it too. I'm sure it feels good, in a non-sexual way. You could use it as a learning opportunity to reinforce that it is ok for your son/daughter to touch him/herself, but not ok for others to touch them.

My son is almost 2 and he went through a 2-month period of sticking his hand down his diaper everytime he went to sleep. As he was doing this, his shirt would get caught in the diaper and he would always wake up with a wet front. My daughter also like to touch herself now that she wears panties. I think it is totally normal. We're just working on her doing it in private, not in public.

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M.
This is perfectly normal and right now very approachable. You may want to ask him what he's doing and be open to talk to him about how he feels when he does what it is he's doing. Let him know that as we grow up we have different changes in our bodies. He will respond to being as open as you are with him. If you hide it and make it a secret...he will too. If you make it a part of life....so will he. MY son is very grown and has children of his own and went through this when he was the same age. He only got it from 100% curiosity and discovering his own body. It is not a problem it is only a lesson in life.. Good Luck
S.

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This is comletely normal!! He is just exploring himself. It's best he does it now and gets comfortable with his body. I wouldn't 'encourage' the behavior, but respect his privacy and make sure he understands his body. My husband says he was 5 when he started getting really curious about his body. I wouldn't worry about it at all!!

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Your son sounds perfectly normal to me. I was a preschool teacher for ten years, an assistant director for a Kindercare
Learning center, and have been a parent now for almost ninteen years (three teen-agers- two sons, one daughter).
Children this age, and especially boys, discover that touching certain parts of their bodies can feel good. Babies often rub their heads when sleepy because it is soothing.
Some kids play with their earlobes, twirl their hair or run their fingers through it, hold soft blankets against their cheeks, etc... Your child has just recently discovered that playing with himself can be pleasurable as well, so he doesn't necessarily have to be "getting this" from anywhere. When my own boys were young, we simply told them that the handling of private areas is done in private. To help them understand what private means, role play certain scenes.
"When Grandma is over to visit and you are in the family romm with her, is that "in private?" "When you take youself to the bathroom, is that "in private?" Make sure he understands that when his sister is around, that is NOT "in private". Sometimes young children will invite other children to play their "game", which is still normal, but not something I would ever encourage youngsters to do.
Just be sure he is clear on the "rules" you set and this phase will pass. If you feel his behavior is excessive, then don't hesitate to talk to your pediatrician.

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