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4 year old who plays with his penis

Posted by Michelle on July 22, 1999 at 07:51:08
My fiancee has a four year old son who visits us every 2nd weekend and every holiday.  Of late (the past month or so) he has taken to climbing into his bed at home and at our house and pulling off his shorts and playing with his penis.  He also fondles his penis in the bath at home and when he spends time with us.  His mother is very distressed by this and has asked his father (my fiancee) to discuss this matter with him.  How do we go about doing this without terrifying the boy and making him afraid of his own sexuality.  When does this type of behaviour cross the boundry between normal and abnormal?

Posted by HVMA Ph.D. - KDK on July 23, 1999 at 11:40:41
Dear Michelle,
It is not unusual for a pre-schooler to be found playing with his penis. It is pleasurable for the child, and generally needn't be a cause for alarm. It is, however, important to casually address the issue of privacy and let the child know that such touching should occur in private and not in the company of others.
While some degree of masturbation is not unusual and, much like thumb-sucking or rocking, can discharge tension, it can also be a sign that the child is under stress. So the important issue is not so much the fact that the behavior occurs - that can be normal. It is a matter of frequency and intensity.
I should also mention, if only for the sake of thoroughness, that excessive masturbation can be a reaction to sexual mistreatment. So it is important to be alert to the possibility.
The information provided in this forum is presented for general educational purposes only. Specific questions you have pertaining to your or your child's health should always be directed to you personal physician.
*Keyword: Penis, Pre_School, Masturbation, Stress, Tension

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