A majority of toddlers have a habit of touching themselves in an embarrassing way. If your child is also touching his or her private parts in a way that disturbs you then you are not alone. Your toddler is not a freak of nature. Child masturbation is very common. In fact, it can also be called a normal part of growing up.
You might also have touched yourself as a toddler and got a spank from your parents for doing so. However, that style of parenting is now out. We no longer believe that when you spare the rod, you spoil the child. You need to take a more psychological approach to dealing with your child's habit of touching his/her genitals.
Why do they do it?
Most parents have this misconception that a child can have no sexuality. Great psychologist Sigmund Freud has said that a child is most sexually active when he/she is born. The baby has to go through stages of psycho-sexual development to tone down this sensual behaviour to acceptably 'normal' standards.
As a baby, the child sucks his/her thumb; this is the Oral Stage. In this stage the child gets pleasure from putting things into the mouth. Your toddler (2 to 4 years) is in the Phallic stage. This is the stage of child masturbation. The child keeps touching his or her private parts for pleasure. Mind you, it is natural instinct and not somebody's bad influence that has prompted them to do this.
If is natural then how is it bad?
If Freud is to be believed then it is not bad for the child to be touch himself or herself. The phallic stage is something that should be fully permitted so that the child does not develop a fixation to this annoying habit. But all psychologists do not agree with Freud's avante-garde theories.
To put it simply, the habit of child masturbation may not be harmful for your child but is certainly embarrassing for you. So here some parenting tips to deal with it.
What you can do?
Your reaction to your child's act will shape his or her perceptions. If you fly into a rage or spank him/her every time you catch him during the act, they will be scared and learn to hide it from you. It might become a bad habit for life.
Talk to the child and let him/her know that you understand that they like to touch themselves. However, all the other people in the world would not understand it. So they must not touch themselves when outsiders are around.
Always try to keep a neutral face when you catch your child touching himself/herself. Some naughty toddlers may do it just to annoy you.
Does your child have a habit of touching his/her private parts? How have you handled it?