Son's hand in crotch all the time ~ what to do?! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-02-2014, 08:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Son's hand in crotch all the time ~ what to do?!

My son just turned four. He recently toilet trained (yes I know, late!) and is still sort of getting used to it.
Since he's dropped wearing diapers he fiddles with, touches or holds (always through his pants not reaching into) his genitals almost all the time. I believe he's not used to feeling his penis hanging freely (it's in briefs but compared to diapers that must feel quite "loose") and he's just sort of adjusting. I asked him about it and although his answer wasn't direct, it seems he felt more secure with diapers on and now that he doesn't have those he feels secure with his hand on his diaper area.

Of course I don't want to shame him but at the same time, I don't really like him fondling himself all the time wherever we are. I've told him that touching our genitals is something we do in private and not around other people. But he does it unconsciously and I feel like I say "stop it" a hundred times a day. I don't want to make a huge thing out of it ~ that could make it go on longer than it would otherwise. Should I just not say anything and assume this will stop once he's more used to the feeling of underwear? I don't want this to become some ingrained habit that carries on for years though.

I know this is not uncommon. If you have / had a child that does/did this, how did you handle it, if at all? Any and all ideas appreciated. Thanks
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#2 of 5 Old 07-03-2014, 11:04 AM
 
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Same issue with my 4yo recently! I'm not sure if it's sorting itself out because he's getting used to it, or if I've helped nip it in the bud, but it has definitely started to taper off recently.

Anytime I saw/see him grabbing himself I ask "do you need to go to the potty?" He usually says no. I say "hmmm well when you grab yourself like that it looks like you need to use the bathroom" and he usually stops.

I also have a 5yo, and I'm having much more trouble with him. He always has his hands IN his pants. I mean ALWAYS. All I've been able to do with him is say "use your pockets please" and it helps for a minute or 2, then right back in the pants. Still working on that... I think most kids aren't as persistent about it
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#3 of 5 Old 07-03-2014, 01:31 PM
 
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If you can be quietly, calmly repetitive in your telling him to stop then he shouldn't feel shamed. I think that shaming results from escalating: stop, STOP, I told you to stop, why do you keep doing it, etc. Act like every time you see it it's the first time: telling him that touching is private, to be done in the bathroom or to use the toilet if he needs to, and to wash his hands after EVERY time he touches. It's possible that if he understands that he is expected to wash his hands EVERY time he touches his genitles that in itself could be enough to demonstrate that the touching is not hygienic and will soon become burdensome enough to him that he will stop (and also practice good hygiene now and in the future).

I agree that the sensation of not wearing the diaper is probably behind this behavior.
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#4 of 5 Old 07-06-2014, 10:44 PM
 
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Well, my next door neighbor says her husband is still like this . . .

I think it's such a natural and normal thing for kids to do. Both my kids (girl and boy, 7 and 6) have done it a lot since their diapers were gone, and we just remind them gently that it's fine to do it, everybody does it, but it's to be done in private. They're much better, but they are still in the process of getting the public impulses controlled. They do understand and they are not ashamed, which was my goal. My daughter was relieved to hear that everybody does it.

Especially with my son, people just seem to laugh a little if he does it in public.
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#5 of 5 Old 07-09-2014, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies!

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Originally Posted by Letitia View Post
I think it's such a natural and normal thing for kids to do. Both my kids (girl and boy, 7 and 6) have done it a lot since their diapers were gone, and we just remind them gently that it's fine to do it, everybody does it, but it's to be done in private. They're much better, but they are still in the process of getting the public impulses controlled. They do understand and they are not ashamed, which was my goal. My daughter was relieved to hear that everybody does it.
Thanks for the public impulses reminder. It really is a gradual learning process for children to learn social behavior and to control impulses when in public or social situations. I think I need patience and understanding, and to keep gently reminding him he can do it in his room alone and that it's normal to do....but just not around others.

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