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My son likes to touch himself. A lot.

kid giggling behind his embarrassed mom

Guest blogger Dani Klein Modisett: "Dani, does ... uh ... Gabriel ever take his hands out his pants?" a father of one of the little girls in my five-year-old's preschool class asked me when I came to pick him up from a playdate.

"Yes." I said. "To eat. Sometimes. Unless it's something he can eat with one hand."

It's not like I didn't know where Gabriel likes to keep his hands. However, this was the first time I was hearing about it from another parent.

"Oh," the dad continued. "Yeah... 'cause he was watching cartoons on the couch with Monica, for I don't know, like almost two hours and he didn't take them out the whole time ... and ... you know ... ha ha ha," It was a forced chuckle that managed to incorporate "it's really weird" with "the lucky bastard."

"Gabriel, honey, Monica's daddy told me you had your hands in your pants watching TV on the couch," I say to him a few minutes later in the car.

"Oh. We watched Ben Ten, Mom. HA HA." He knows I don't like shows with tiny sarcastic brats in them, animated or not, so this was a good distraction ploy on his part.

"That's for private time, okay, honey? That's for when you're in your room." I was surprised to find myself parroting what my husband Tod always tells him. We haven't set a formal "hands in your pants" policy, but "in your room" sounds reasonable. Anywhere you're not offending people works for me, but that's a little sophisticated for a five-year-old. The only time it really bothers me is when we're in the kitchen and Gabriel wants to help me cook. His "hands on pee pee" style is a little unappetizing, not to mention unsanitary.

"Maybe I'm too laissez faire," I think, stuck in traffic driving home a few minutes later that afternoon. I don't want parents whispering to each other, "Don't have Gabriel over, he'll masturbate all over your house," that kind of thing. I mean, isn't that part of my job as a parent, to help my son get along in the world and minimize the whispering about him behind his back, at least until he's 18? But isn't it also my job to help him feel comfortable with his body and enjoy himself? And pleasuring oneself is one of life's more reliable pleasures.


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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anon February 13, 2009, 9:13 AM

Oh thank god, I thought this was only my kid…my DAUGHTER does the same thing when she’s tired and comfortable, like watching a cartoon right before bedtime in the living room. Which is bad because (a) hello, I don’t need to witness it and (b) if my boyfriend’s over, he doesn’t need to, either. I’ve tried telling her that she needs to do this when she’s alone but she seems to do it without even thinking! Let us all know how you break your son of his habit of doing this publicly, I’ll pick up some pointers!

Uly February 13, 2009, 9:15 PM

A lot of little kids do this. Most of the people I know set up the “in your room” policy by two or three. We did it by picking the girls up and forceably putting them in their room, or picking them up and re-seating them in such a way so they couldn’t masturbate if we were out in public, with a reminder that private parts stay private.

Lilly September 30, 2009, 1:14 PM

People may find this gross, but kids actually find their body’s pleasure spots very, very early on and we must teach them it’s not dirty lest they grow up with warped minds. Saying it’s for ‘in your room’ seems the best way to go. Just keep telling them constantly till they stop doing it all over the house.

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 7:51 AM

Nice information. Good and fun reading. I’ve just got one observation to offer about shirts.


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