How do I get my toddler to stop sticking her hands down her pants? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 21 Old 02-25-2012, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know, I know, it's normal toddler behavior. I know that all toddlers are interested in their genitals, but there are certain times and places for it. Plus I'm not cool with the idea of her grabbing at herself and then rubbing it all over the house. I've been telling her that we don't want to do that because we'll get our germs on our hands, but I'm afraid that'll make her shameful or afraid of her genitals. Am I over-thinking this? Should I just let her do it and then make sure that she washes her hands afterwards? What does everyone else do?


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#2 of 21 Old 02-25-2012, 08:04 PM
 
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We called this strumming the banjo. All playing should be done at bathtime and any other times deemed private. And we always said please be sure to wash your hands after doing so. Left it at that.
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#3 of 21 Old 02-25-2012, 09:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What other times did you deem private?

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#4 of 21 Old 02-26-2012, 04:13 AM
 
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Bathtime and when they were in their own rooms.  I just felt it was a good thing to ask them not to do it around everyone else.  They're older now and asking them not to do it all around the house has not ruined them.  They don't do it anymore and when they're taking their baths and such now they have no problem discussing they parts with me.  Or each other for that matter.  It's a pretty open house, DH is the only one that gets wigged out when the girls tell him stuff or ask questions.  He tries hard not to show it but he does his best.

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#5 of 21 Old 02-26-2012, 09:27 AM
 
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Overalls :-)

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#6 of 21 Old 02-26-2012, 04:55 PM
 
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Potty train. E was doing this a lot as well and we went ahead and did pants-free 3 day potty training. The first day she thought it was an awesome free for all, but then quickly realized that every time she reached down we assumed she had to pee and put her on the potty. She picked it up quickly and now only reaches when she does have to pee. She's been pants free at home for a week now and after that first day she has very little interest anymore. 


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#7 of 21 Old 02-27-2012, 01:04 AM
 
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Hm, DD1 is daytime trained and still does this.  I just tell her to wash her hands if I see her doing it. 


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#8 of 21 Old 02-27-2012, 03:06 AM
 
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Might not work until they're a bit older, but I always used humor/distraction with DS (um, he's 8 and I still have to do this ;)  I just say, "Hey buddy, did you lose your car keys AGAIN???"  Massive giggles, hand out of pants and voila, distracted.

 

We talked as he was getting older about private time, etc - but it was the absent minded fiddling I wanted to gently bring his attention to without shaming or maing him self-conscious. 

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#9 of 21 Old 02-27-2012, 05:58 AM
 
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I used to say you need to wash your hands BEFORE, because your hands have germs, I don't want you putting germs into your body. That way I could stop the behavior without suggesting private areas are "dirty". Sometimes, though she'd just race to the bathroom, wash her hands, then go back to what she was doing. It was outgrown pretty quickly, but I remember It was incredibly annoying at the time.
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#10 of 21 Old 02-29-2012, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She's been potty trained for over 6 months now and still does it. :-P

 

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Originally Posted by BlueStateMama View Post

 

We talked as he was getting older about private time, etc - but it was the absent minded fiddling I wanted to gently bring his attention to without shaming or maing him self-conscious. 


That's exactly my deal. It's like half the time she's just kind of messing with it while she's watching TV or whatever. I don't want her to think that it's bad, just to realize when it's appropriate. We're talking about the private time thing now and it seems to be helping. Also washing hands afterwards. I think the biggest thing that was bugging me was how her hands smelled gross all the time. :-P


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#11 of 21 Old 03-04-2012, 09:53 AM
 
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Hi There! My son is 21 months (you don't say how old your daughter is) and so far besides a little tugging during dipe changes and baths he's shown little interest in his genitals, so I am not talking from first hand experience but what I saw a friend do and what I plan to do if and when this comes up for us:

 

What she did with her (then) 3 y.o. DD was every time she started playing with herself my friend would say: "Oh do you want to do that now? That's ok but we do that in private so please go to your room / we can leave your room now (if that's where they were)". Usually she actually preferred to be with others or continue doing whatever else was going on so she'd stop. My friend did not say this in a negative tone, was always sure to say "that's okay if you want to touch yourself there", and did not make it a punishment or time-out sort of thing that her DD had to do it in her room.

 

I like this way because it does not shame the child whatsoever, or instill the message that our bodies and/or sexuality are disgusting or dirty or something to be ashamed of. It just teaches the simple reality that sexual acts or touching our genitals is something done in privacy. Simple. It also does not create a "don't do that!" kind of mentality whereby the child may try to test limits or do it to act out.

 

I'm sure this wouldn't work for all kids in all situations, obviously, but it did work for my friend and as I saw her do this I was impressed and kept "on file" ever since to pull out if needed.

 

HTH!


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#12 of 21 Old 04-06-2012, 03:44 PM
 
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Hmm this is a good topic to think about (I'm not yet having this issue).

 

For anybody who believes masturbation is wrong, and therefore don't want to go with the "it's okay, just do it in private" approach - any tips?

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#13 of 21 Old 04-06-2012, 04:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seana View Post

I used to say you need to wash your hands BEFORE, because your hands have germs, I don't want you putting germs into your body. That way I could stop the behavior without suggesting private areas are "dirty". Sometimes, though she'd just race to the bathroom, wash her hands, then go back to what she was doing. It was outgrown pretty quickly, but I remember It was incredibly annoying at the time.

Yep, that's my thought, too.

There's a similar thread on mdc right now about a little girl touching herself all the time. Just smile and tell them its like picking your nose.. everyone does it, no one wants to watch. Send them to their room with a gentle nudge. They'll get the idea pretty soon and never feel shame.
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#14 of 21 Old 04-06-2012, 06:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmyBP View Post

Hmm this is a good topic to think about (I'm not yet having this issue).

 

For anybody who believes masturbation is wrong, and therefore don't want to go with the "it's okay, just do it in private" approach - any tips?

i think two things you need to consider if you really think masturbation is wrong...

 

1, i dont think at this age it is really masturbation, its more like fiddling their hair or yanking on an ear than anything else
 

2. you really are never going to stop another person from masturbating if they want to. You can shame someone into feeling crappy about themselves or brainwash them in to believing that there is some horrible consequence, but really even those dont usually work. Better to turn the other cheek or work on corraling the behavior into times when it is not interfering with anything.


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#15 of 21 Old 04-06-2012, 06:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post


Yep, that's my thought, too.
There's a similar thread on mdc right now about a little girl touching herself all the time. Just smile and tell them its like picking your nose.. everyone does it, no one wants to watch. Send them to their room with a gentle nudge. They'll get the idea pretty soon and never feel shame.


ok thats a funny but pretty good analogy!


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#16 of 21 Old 04-06-2012, 09:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmyBP View Post

Hmm this is a good topic to think about (I'm not yet having this issue).

 

For anybody who believes masturbation is wrong, and therefore don't want to go with the "it's okay, just do it in private" approach - any tips?



I still struggle with whether or not it's "wrong" (raised Catholic), but it's definitely something that makes me incredibly uncomfortable to acknowledge - I don't even like to think about DH doing it, and I'm 5 mo PG with a kinda rough 1st trimester in which there was very little sex, so...you know...I can do the math...winky.gif

 

At this age in particular, though, I don't want to create negativity around it.  I don't EVER want to create negativity around it, frankly, but since I don't have it all figured out yet, I've stuck with "that's not what that's for" in a very casual tone, the same way I tell him he can play music on his drum but can't stand on it, or he can eat with his fork but can't use it to poke the dog.  We do EC, so he's naked a lot, so if he pulls on it I usually ask if he has to use the potty, and he's had some infection issues so I'll also ask if it hurts, and if he says no and just wants to play with it (often when he's on the potty), we say "hands off the junk," (um, literally...we're kind of crude) or "your penis is for peeing, not for playing with." 

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#17 of 21 Old 04-13-2012, 06:11 PM
 
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Mm hmm yeah I agree that it wouldn't be really even masturbation at this age, much less sinful - but I don't want to encourage the habit, and I certainly don't want older siblings to hear us say "It's okay to do as long as it's in private" given our beliefs.

 

What I've read is, as mentioned, the "that's not what this body part is for" explanation... which I do use... but I don't really know how powerful that is for a toddler. Teleological arguments are a bit tricky to grasp, especially because some body parts are multi-functional and creativity with what we can do with them is okay.

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#18 of 21 Old 04-13-2012, 06:33 PM
 
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I don't see how a child could possibly understand that's not what it's there for... And the natural next thought would be, ok, then why does this feel good? What's wrong with feeling good?

We just say its private, you can do it in your room.
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#19 of 21 Old 04-15-2012, 08:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So we've been doing the "private time" thing and sometimes she thinks it's great, but sometimes she gets upset. I'm afraid that with my child that separating her from us is considered punishment in her mind and therefore I'm causing her shame. I may just be overly worried about causing my child shame of her nakedness though. Am I over-reacting? I'm still not cool with her doing it anywhere and everywhere, but I don't want her to think I'm punishing her for wanting to do it. 


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#20 of 21 Old 04-15-2012, 05:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lactatinggirl View Post

So we've been doing the "private time" thing and sometimes she thinks it's great, but sometimes she gets upset. I'm afraid that with my child that separating her from us is considered punishment in her mind and therefore I'm causing her shame. I may just be overly worried about causing my child shame of her nakedness though. Am I over-reacting? I'm still not cool with her doing it anywhere and everywhere, but I don't want her to think I'm punishing her for wanting to do it. 

I would just rinse and repeat. Some variation of "glad you noticed that, it is great, but its private...... you need to go to your room or bathroom and shut the door." Smile.
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#21 of 21 Old 04-17-2012, 01:05 PM
 
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My DD is 1 so not an issue for us yet, but in the past with other young kids I've cared for I would do what others have suggested--I would say, "That's something to do in private, not right now, you can go be private if you want to." If it wasn't with masturbating but just a habit of sticking their hand down there I'd just tell them they had to wash their hands, usually kids hate washing their hands so they got out of the habit of doing it.

 

Also, I wanted to say that I know masturbation is against some people's beliefs but it really is healthy and normal, many kids and most adults do it, and the reality is that telling a kid not to do is only going to make them feel guilty, not make them stop. I'm not trying to dis your beliefs, but the consensus medically, psychologically etc. is that it is not good for the kid to tell them that it is wrong or "that's not what that's for", after all, sexual sensation IS there for a reason, and it is a normal and healthy thing for a child to explore that function of his/her body, if they do so appropriately.
 

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