22 answers

Need Help with 4 Yr Old Realizing Her Body Parts

OK not really sure how to say this and it MAKES ME SICK asking BUT has any other parents on here noticed or had they child realize their body in certain ways? My daughter is 4 and has been rubbing her privates on a fan up be the knobs it FREAKED me out and I said AVERY what are you doing and she said MOM it tickles I am tickling my body. So I really did not make a big deal about it BUT I did talk to her about it. THEN I was in kitchen and she was to help with setting table and I asked her to please come and do so and she said WAIT a min and shut her door SO I went in and caught her doing it AGAIN.... I am not sure how she knew and even THOUGHT of doing this but I am not sure what to do. I have a back massager with heat on it and she found it closet and I had gotten out of shower and walked in lvg room and she was rubbing on herself. I wanted to CRY I have NO CLUE where she is getting this from. My hubby and I NEVER do ANYTHING in front of kids nor talk about sex or feelings so it fathoms me how she even thought of this. She is with me 24/7 not in daycare so I am lost and we NEVER watch anything unfit on TV so it was not there. I am LOST and CONFUSED on what to do. I have sat her down to talk to her but not getting in her head. Any advice would be GREAT... OH and her clothes are ALWAYS on when she is doing this...

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well I guess it is normal like everyone says... I know it will happen and my son is 22 mo and low in behold he is on his potty chair and boom he is pulling on it I say OUCH bubby do not pull it lol so I guess I might as well get over it since I have the other doing it as well. Mom never recalls me ever doing that but not saying it will not happen again I am sure it will as long as she does not grow up to like girls and not boys lol. I will be happy..... I am sure last comment will get reaction but Just my opinion. Thxs for all the post.... She is a VERY SMART girl. She will ask questions you would not even think of a 4 yr old asking adn at 2 she KNOWS smoking is bad and she saw a guy in front of us buying cigs a the store and said MOM LOOK he is going to get cancer he is smoking. What was I to say other then you are right honey. I got the WORST look from him and can you believe he was outside the door when we walked out smoking and BLEW smoke in her face. You talk about MAD I was FURIOUS BUT I kept it cool just looked at him and said that was very rude and Avery said NOT NICE out loud lol.... She does know she came from my belly c section she has seen the pictures so she might know certain things she might need to wait on but she picks up on things FAST.. We will be taking the fan out of her room and get one on the floor that she can not do anything on. I am afraid she will get the knob or something and get really hurt.

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Just like little boys explore their body parts so do little girls. It's perfectly normal and not to worry about it. The only time you should say something is if she does it in front of somebody or in a public place. Then you need to explain to her that it's something we only do in private. This is part of her sexuality discovery and it would be very bad to tell her it's bad or not to do it. It will pass and she will grow.
Hang in there.

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Calm down, breathe... Ok now first off this isn't about ANYTHING you are or are not doing. You are reacting very strongly to what is NORMAL. She's 4 it isn't sexual. If she has an itch on her arm, or she finds a way to tickle her foot she's going to do it. It's her body and she's realizing all the strange things it does just like when she used to eat her toes. Explain to her what is and isn't appropriate, that isn't what a fan is for, we don't do that in public, ect. but be careful if you make to big of a deal out of this A. shes likely to do it that much more, and B. it's very possible you could seriously mess up her view of her body and sex in general later on in life.

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I don't have a girl, but have talked about this actually twice this week...since my son was "adjusting himself" often on the pitchers mount at the tball game the other day. His grandfather showers with him, but here I let him shower alone and his grandfather said that he can't keep his hands off himself lately--it's like the toy he always has with him. I believe it's a totally normal process in growing up- to find your body parts. One of the other Mom's on the team whose son just turned 5 said the same thing. My neice is only 2, and I know we have to remind her on the potty that her hands need to stay out of there so the pee can come out. She likes to reach down there too.
On the other hand, if it's actually itching and that's causing her to do such things then it could be an infection.
Again, I think it's normal to begin to learn about their body parts and realize such things are there. nows the time to teach them appropriate manners/behaviors about such things.

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Actually, this is completely normal. Every child figures this out sooner or later. Please don't make a big deal about it - if you do, she can develop problems with her future sexuality. Just let her know that there are times when it's appropriate to do this and times when it isn't. Let her know it's ok, but that we do this privately, kind of like going to the bathroom. You're going to have to deal with your own feelings first though - please realize that we are all sexual beings from the time we are born; even infant boys get erections sometimes. The sensations are there, and why wouldn't she want to do something that feels good? Like I said before, it's time to set limits but please don't make a big deal or forbid this; it could give her problems later on, but it could also backfire severely. 4 years old is a stage where they are finding their individuality, and doing something forbidden is a great way of rebelling. My sympathies are with you - I'm sure this is hard for you to deal with. Just be reassured that this is completely normal, and not because of anything you have done.

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Calm down, breathe... Ok now first off this isn't about ANYTHING you are or are not doing. You are reacting very strongly to what is NORMAL. She's 4 it isn't sexual. If she has an itch on her arm, or she finds a way to tickle her foot she's going to do it. It's her body and she's realizing all the strange things it does just like when she used to eat her toes. Explain to her what is and isn't appropriate, that isn't what a fan is for, we don't do that in public, ect. but be careful if you make to big of a deal out of this A. shes likely to do it that much more, and B. it's very possible you could seriously mess up her view of her body and sex in general later on in life.

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I'm not sure why you are so upset. Masturbation is a normal part of healthy sexuality. The only things she needs to know is that you AREN'T ashamed of her body and neither should she be, and that it's something you do in private. If she is using the potty or in her own room or taking a bath, these are appropriate times to explore her body, it just shouldn't be done in the middle of the living room or in public.
As for how she came up with it...she has the same sense of touch you do. Most babies start exploring their bodies during diaper changes around 6 months (or earlier!) It has nothing to do with seeing someone else do it and everything to do with a brush of a hand as she pulled up her pants or wiped after going to the bathroom.
I think the real problem is that you have such a problem with it. You said you don't "do anything" or talk about sex or feelings. How is she supposed to grow up into a normal, expressive human being if she doesn't have that modeled at home? You need to stop being so retentive and kiss your husband, hold hands, give hugs. Otherwise she's going to have major hang-ups when she hits adolescence.

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It really isn't something to freak out about. It doesn't mean she has a whacked out, supersexuality. It just means she is growing up! She has discovered that certain parts of her body feels pleasant when she rubs things against them. She doesn't think of it as anything really sexual. She isn't fantasizing or anything. I teach 4 and five year olds, and have heard it called everything from "exercising" to "wiggle worming." Now is the time to set the groundwork, though. Explain to her that while tickling herself might feel good, it isn't something other people should watch. Do not forbid her to do it, because that could really mess her up. Some kids tickle themselves to calm them, some do it without thinking. LOTS do it before they go to sleep. It is a part of nature and the novelty will wear off eventually.

1 mom found this helpful

Just like little boys explore their body parts so do little girls. It's perfectly normal and not to worry about it. The only time you should say something is if she does it in front of somebody or in a public place. Then you need to explain to her that it's something we only do in private. This is part of her sexuality discovery and it would be very bad to tell her it's bad or not to do it. It will pass and she will grow.
Hang in there.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with some of the other posts... you need to step back and take a deep breath and realize she is NORMAL. Almost every kid goes through this phase around that age. She discovered something that feels good. Masterbation is not bad and it's certainly not sexual at this young age. She's simply exploring. This is a perfect opportunity for you to step in and guide her. If you tell her to hide and act like it's evil she's probably going to grow up being ashamed of her body and her sexuality. Tell her the correct names, tell her it's OK to do it but only in private in her room or bathroom and to use her fingers instead of other household items. Tell her she's being normal so she's not thinking she's doing something bad.

If you are open and honest about this she'll be more likely to come to you when she's older (teenagers!) with sexual/puberty questions. If she gets the 'vibed' from you that it's not normal and she's bad then she'll more than likely not feel like she can talk with you.

I'm glad to see all the good advice you've gotten already! My son is not even 2 yet, and he is rubbing against everything.

If she is becoming aware of her body you need to stay one step ahead of her. Get her some books from the library, aimed at her age, to teach her about body parts. If you over-react now or make her feel guilty, she'll be less likely to come to you when she's older and has questions about sex.

Hi M.,
Calm down! :)
Just like the other moms said, this is normal and healthy behavior. When my daughter went through this phase, I told her that there are things we can do that make our privates feel good, but one reason we call those parts private is because we only do those things when no one is around, in the privacy of our own rooms. Make sure to let her know that it's normal to do things that feel good and be sure to remind her that she can talk to you about anything if she has a question or problem. :)

M.,

I don't think she's doing anything "sexual". I have heard that kids discover that their privates are sensitive at an early age. I don't think she "learned" this anywhere like from somone or tv or anything...it's just development. I would talk to your ped about it but I think it's part of exploring your body. Hope this eases your mind.

It's perfectly natural at this age for kids to be curoius about their bodies. My husband and I talked a LOT about how to handle these type of situations from our kids (5 and 2) and we agreed not to sugar coat it, lie, or make up silly names for body parts. Just recently my daughter had a question about breasts and I explained simply that when she got to be a teenager that she would develop breasts like mommy and we don't tell other people about our bodies that they are private. My own mom didn't sugar coat this and it simply made sense to my husband and I to be honest with our kids. My daughter understood and agreed that she wouldn't blab to other people and she hasn't spoken about it since (almost a month now) Good luck!!

There is nothing to be freaked out about it. Its perfectly normal. She does it because it feels good. The thing is to teach her not to do it in public. There are plenty of books out there.

Wow. I'm not saying this is the perfect answer, but here's what I would do:
I would ask in a variety of nonchalant ways if she learned this from any family members or friends or TV. Let her know it is OK to tell you if she got the idea from somewhere else.

By your capital letters and her reaction by repeating the behavior behind closed doors, it seems it is possible you may have freaked her out by overreacting. And I don't feel that it is abnormal. Innocent kids will discover things like this; I think she was just thinking "this feels good; why is my mom freaking out?". I doubt she was thinking that she was doing something sexual. Unless, of course she has had inappropriate touching from soemone else and obviously I don't know that.

If she truly did this on her own and has not been taught this behavior or molested, I would just say something like, "wow. seems like that really tickles you, honey. but it really isn't safe to do that on a fan, and also it really isn't polite. Could I rub your back or tickle your arms?"

Last but not least, call her doctor for advice on how to approach it if it keeps happening.

They had a sex specialist on Oprah a few weeks back, you should relax because this is very normal. A woman had called in because she kept catching her 4 yr old daughter playing with her genitals. The specialist told her that this is very normal, she has found a part of her body that might feel good (or tickle, whatever) to touch and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. What you DO NOT want to do is make her feel ashamed about her body or what she's doing, otherwise she will think she is being bad and she isn't, she's simply discovering. YOU are the only one of the two of you who thinks anything "sexual about this, she is only 4 and has no idea what that means.

The specialist told the mom that the only thing that needed to be said was that we only do this in private at home, not around other people, and to make sure she knows no one else is allowed to touch there, only her. It's just a phase and she will get past it until her early teenage years hit and she sort of "re-realizes" what that's there for.

I was actually telling my mother about this Oprah episode and she informed me that when I was about 4 and found out that mine had a name, I would climb up on the couch and spread my legs and announce to my family "look everyone, I have a vagina"...and mom would say "that's great honey, put it away". I have NO recollection of ever doing this, and she thinks it's hilarious, but my point is I don't remember it because she never made a big deal out of it, said it didn't last long and I was on to something else I thought was cool, vagina forgotten. Whatever you do, don't blow it out of proportion, it's not worth it and you don't want her mentally scarred thinking her body is a horror to society.

Honestly, you need to re-direct her with a new toy or game or something that will require her time to set up get ready or take outside. Oh, by the way, it is perfectly normal for children to find pleasure in touching themselves. We just need distract them untill the appropiate age arrives for then to discover what comes natually. When you ask her to help you, start the task with her and then let her continue, don't be so fast to leave her alone....tell her what a good job she is doing, and give her some ideas as to inhance what she is doing. Such as personalize the napkins with a marker; flower for Dad, heart shapes for mom etc.
It is only a phase, keep her busy with you.

from an experienced mom/

M.,

My sister's daughter went through a similar stage when she was 3 or 4. She would find things to rub against, (once on a stool at a children's play area). As my sister explained, it was very natural and she did not want to shame or daughter or make her feel guiltily. She did however explain to her daughter it was something that should be private and not shared with others or around others. Maybe some mom's with boys have some advice since I've heard similar stories when boys discover their body parts. The only other thing I would do is talk with her to make sure NO ONE has ever been inappropriate with/or around her. Good luck

I tend to agree with Sarah on this. How is she supposed to learn about feelings or sex if you and husband are too ashamed or embarrassed to discuss this with her? Masturbation and sexual exploration are nothing to be ashamed of, even though at her age, it is not sexual. Like everyone else said, simply teach her that this is something to do in private. The more you tell her how wrong it is, the more she may do it. I also kind of confused about your comment about her liking girls and not boys. What exactly does whether or not she maturbates have to do with her being gay or not? Again, at 4 this is not sexual. Maybe take a second before reacting and see if there is a connection as to when she does this. Is she stressed for some reason? Is she tired? And, keep in mind, think like a 4 year old when you do. What she sees as stressful, may be nothing to you. This is just something that she has found to be relaxing and feels good. The less you panic over it, the less she may do it.

My neice started doing this about the same age. She calls it "scooching". She would rub her privates on the edge of her mattress. I agree with how my sister handled it. She told her that if she wanted to do that, it was ok. She just had to do it privately in her room. Not in public ever, but anytime in her room was fine.

This is perfectly natural! You didn't do anything wrong! I agree don't make a big deal out of it, you don't want to cause any long lasting sexual issues or body issues. Just let her do it, but in the privacy of her room. Because the truth is, she will do it anyway if she wants to!

Good luck to you!

Hey M.,
I'm sorry you are upset. Rest assured this is completely normal behavior for a 4yo. Body exploration (self-stimulation, sticking things up her nose, in her ears, etc)at this age is normal and even self-stimulation is normal too (call your ped to get a prof's opinion). She has no idea what those parts are for and why they feel the way they do when she stimulates them, consequently it doesn't seem bad to her (it is tickling afterall). I wouldn't make her feel bad about it as you'd hate to plant ideas about those parts being bad or their future purpose as being bad or dirty. My cousin when she was little did the same thing and my aunt made a rule for her that she could touch those parts but she had to make sure she was alone in her room or the bathroom. The novelty faded and she stopped self-stimulating shortly after that. I think the bigger deal you make it the more likely she is to keep doing it.

If you think about it, little boys discover their body parts at a very early age, and no one thinks anything about seeing them playing with themselves. It's just a phase, and I would not bring any more attention to it than you already have. Tell her that it is something that should be done in private and ask her to go to her room until she is done. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

This behavior is pretty normal in small children.They are discovering thier body. Nothing wrong with it at all . But it can be very upsetting to some parents.Little boys do these things as well. There is not really much you can do except talk to her about not doing it in front of people.

Please relax! You don't need to be embarrassed or shocked about this at all. This is very normal for both boys and girls (although boys tend to do it earlier than girls do), and it has nothing to do with what you are watching on TV. I used to work in a daycare, and almost every child went through this at one stage or another - they tend to discover the sensations by accident and are intrigued. Don't make a big deal about this, though, or you can scare your child. Instead, take advantage of this opportunity to talk to her about her private parts, and how those parts are private for a reason. At four years old, your daughter is old enough to understand that this is the sort of thing she can explore when she is by herself in her own bedroom, but not in the living room, kitchen, or supermarket. When you see her doing it again, remind her gently that that is not something a young lady does around other people, but just remember that there is nothing unusual or sick about what she is doing, and she'll grow out of it on her own.

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