Dear Stop It Now!,

My 3 year-old holds his favorite stuffed animal at his reduced stomach area, lies on his stomach through his arms under him, and holds the stuffed animal in area while making copulating motions. He does this off and also on during the day and at bedtime. I feel it has actually come to be a behavior comparable to rubbing a blanket, or chewing on a blanket -- something that feels great and helps him go to sleep. However, we are at a loss about exactly how to discourage this habits without calling his attention to it being sexual and making him more aware of the behavior. We do not think he has actually watched anything incorrect, however that he simply found that it feels excellent by accident. Should we "lose" that specific stuffed animal and hope he doesn"t pick up a substitute? Should we attempt to talk to him about it, and if so, what must we say?


Response:
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Dear Concerned Parent,

It have the right to be uncomfortable for any type of parent to watch their kid discover that it feels great to rub their genitals, and also I’m so glad you’ve got to out to us via your inquiries. 

Recognizing Healthy Sexual BehaviorsIt sounds like what your child is doing is age-appropriate, and at 3 years-old this behavior is what we call ‘self-soothing behavior’ – equivalent to thumb sucking or, as you said, rubbing a blanket. You’re additionally correct that although this is normal and healthy and balanced, it still deserves a conversation approximately as soon as and where this activity is proper. 

Although I wouldn’t take away his favorite toy, it might be valuable to have actually a conversation via him – not to shame him – but fairly to restraight his habits. You can say somepoint like, “I check out that you enjoy rubbing yourself on your stuffed pet. It may feel excellent to rub your penis on Teddy, and also that’s fine, however this is somepoint that is done in private. When you desire to rub your genitals on Teddy, you deserve to go in your room and also close the door. A personal task means somepoint we carry out alone – choose once you view me cshed the door to the bathroom, you understand I desire privacy. It’s alideal if you forgain occasionally, bereason I’m below to remind you, okay?” You may also desire to let your son recognize that “Teddy” demands to remain in his bedroom, to reinforce his knowledge about what appropriate behavior looks prefer.

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Safety PlanningThis can additionally be component of a bigger conversation about body rules, which would encompass offering him specific names for his genitals. Keep the conversation going and also use teachable moments to talk to him around safety. When you’re offering him a bath, ask before you wash his genitals to model consent out, and also remind him what his body parts are dubbed. Take the moment to talk to him around healthy and balanced touch also – to ensure that he understands how to play safely, and also so he knows what to intend from various other people as well. This helps him grow up through excellent information approximately privacy, respect, and correct habits – something we call safety planning. You may be doing this in your home currently, and also if so, I encourage you to keep it up.

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You might still need to gently remind him about when it’s correct to touch himself, and also restraight him to an extra appropriate behavior once he’s in a public location (prefer, if you’re out grocery shopping, or even when you’re just in the living room). If you watch this occurs once he is feeling a details way, you might desire to aid him name his emotion and check out what other sorts of activities have the right to aid him relax – like illustration, running roughly, or possibly simply lying dvery own with the lights off.

If your boy rubs himself to the suggest of hurting himself or if this gets in the means of him enjoying other activities, then it would be an excellent principle to involve his pediatrician to encertain that there’s nothing going on physically that is making him uncomfortable.