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How do you handle a 4 year old that "likes to make himself feel good"?

As he puts it...I don't want to encourage, but don't want to discourage at the same time. He does this with clothes on.
I've tried doing the "it's a private thing, not to be done in the living room" so he goes to his bedroom and closes the door. I open the door (a 4 year old should not be alowed to close his bedroom door).
It's not all the time, but enough
Any thoughts on how to turn his focus elsewhere?

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Asked by Tracey721 at 12:50 PM on Jun. 30, 2008 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (8)
  • At 4 my biggest question is why? he is doing this and where did he find out about it.

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:22 PM on Jun. 30, 2008

  • I'm with the other poster. Where did he learn this?

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:05 PM on Jun. 30, 2008

  • Ok I do not agree with the other posters, and refuse to be anonymous. But I have a 3 1/2 year old, he dresses and washes himself in the tub while I sit with him, he is a boy and all boys are going to discover it at some point. To a point, I don't think it is a problem. Kids don't have to pick it up some place or see it someplace else to realise they have one, especially in this time when potty training is going so big. Come on, little boys know how to stand up and pee, or at least mine does, they are gonna know its there. These other people must not have a little boys!!! If you are concerned I would call the dr, other wise, sorry to say, boys will be boys. Keep up with what you are doing hun!

    Answer by Anubis8733 at 4:54 PM on Jun. 30, 2008

  • I too don't agree with the "anonymous" posters. Every parenting book points out that kids like to explore their bodies and many discover this - boys AND girls.
    I'd just keep doing what you are doing. Let him be alone in his room. The less you pay attention to the behavior, the sooner he'll move on to something else.

    Answer by kaycee14 at 8:16 PM on Jun. 30, 2008

  • let him go at it. at the very least at some point in the very distnant future, he's gonna know how to make his wife very happy. lol. seriously, its not a big deal. he'll proabably never grow out of that. and unless you want to try the old hair on the palm bs route, what you are doing is just right.

    Answer by princezzmommie at 11:32 PM on Jun. 30, 2008

  • i agree, let him explore. it is his body by the way. my sd has been 'making herself feel good' since she was 18 months old. it helps her go to sleep. i just tell her that she needs to do that sort of thing in private.

    Answer by flaming36 at 7:09 AM on Jul. 1, 2008

  • I am attending classes at a community college, and recently took a psychology class in human growth and development. It is quite common for preschoolers to explore their bodies. No doubt, you don't want to encourage it; however, if you criticize the child, your child may develop a complex and esteem issues. Your pediatrician may be an excellent source for healthy solutions.

    Answer by Anonymous at 7:43 AM on Jul. 1, 2008

  • Discouraging the behavior teaches shame and that sex is dirty. I have two boys - each went through this stage. It is enough to say that "this is a private thing, and must be done in your bedroom or the bathroom."

    If it becomes constant, it may be an indicator that your child is upset about something - some children masturbate as a stress relieving mechanism.

    Answer by lawmom623 at 8:30 AM on Jul. 1, 2008

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