Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Comfort habit??

I saw and read this interesting article this morning and thought I should share it with those who have little boys that may have similar "comfort habit" ;p I would also like to archive it here in my blog in case I do need some kind of info or reference in the future coz afterall I do have a growing little boy at home ;p

Wednesday August 20, 2008
Comfort habit
Childwise By RUTH LIEW

Excessive self-touching should be viewed seriously.

MY three-and-a-half-year-old son is quite active and adorable. Of late, I caught him playing with his penis. It surprised me and I tried hard to be discreet in handling the situation.

I asked him what he was doing and he replied that he was just playing. He then asked me to turn away or watch TV or carry on with what I was doing and leave him alone to play.

The third time, I caught him off-guard. I asked him why he was playing with his penis, and whether it was itchy. I also enquired whether anyone had touched him there.

He quickly changed topic and ignored me. When I probed further, he said his dad taught him. I asked my hubby and he said he never taught him that.

I then told my son that he lied to me and that it was not right to lie. Then he named his cousin brother. He kept on changing his answers each time I asked him.

Just yesterday, he locked himself in the bedroom. I couldn’t get in and he finally opened the door after one or two minutes.

I asked him what he was doing and if he was playing with his penis again. He said no.
I pulled down his pants and his penis was erect. I then asked him if he enjoyed doing it. He said it was itchy down there.

Is this something unusual or part of growing up? I’m worried that he will continue to do this elsewhere, or when he is on his own.

Both my husband and I never behave badly and we hardly get intimate with him around. I wonder what caused him to react in this manner.

A babysitter is looking after my son. She is also looking after two girls, aged two and four. Worried Mother

First, start by taking your child to see a medical professional to rule out a medical issue, such as infection or even possible exposure to sexual abuse.

When a preschooler shows excessive self-touching, you have to look into the matter seriously. Barring all medical issues, it is normal for a preschooler to touch himself as he explores and develops body awareness.

Often, young boys will touch, scratch or tug in that area. In the course of doing this, many toddlers and preschoolers discover that they get a pleasant sensation from touching themselves.
Dr Gwen Smith, retired paediatrician, mother of five and grandmother of seven, says that children at this age are discovering their own bodies.

Your son has probably found that this is an interesting part of him. It is not necessary to attribute his behaviour to someone else having taught him to do so.

He has no knowledge of sexual function. His behaviour is not immoral although socially unacceptable to people who are not used to dealing with small children.

Dr Smith added that it is better not to reinforce his interest by paying a lot of attention to his behaviour. Distraction is the best approach. Don’t make him feel guilty. This is often a self-comforting behaviour.

You may also want to consider whether there is any reason for him to need to use a comfort habit at this time. Is there a new sibling or a new teacher in school? Are you moving house?
Find out if your child is upset over certain changes in his daily routines. Don’t call attention to this by discussing it with other adults while he is there and listening. Any sort of attention will reinforce the behaviour.

Avoid confronting your son with questions that may worry or frighten him. You may want to take some time to explain about his body and his private parts. You can also talk about privacy like when he goes to the bathroom.

If you feel uncomfortable with his self-touching, keep him occupied with “hands-on” activities such as playdough, building blocks, craft play and simple cooking activities.

It is also advisable to do spot-checks at his babysitter’s house. Make observations of your son at play with other children as well as his interactions with other adults.

It is important to know what is going on at different times of his life. This will help you deal with the developmental changes in your son.

There is a parent and child learning together session at Children’s World Kindergarten in Subang Jaya this Saturday, 10am to 12pm. For more information, call Anne (012-653 4975/ 03-8025 9910). This is a community programme.


Gallivanter said...

How "comforting" to know that they start at such a tender age. Monkey see monkey do, so he must've picked it up from somewhere. Hopefully, someone's not molesting the little guy. Sheesh.

Jewelle said...

I've read about this kind of cases before and so far, all that I've read are help guides that tell parents not to panic, to distract etc.

I wonder if there are any real case study of parents who have successfully dealt with this.

Sarah said...

man i hate to read if that little kid got molested. if it comes to that excessive touching, almost any parent would be worried especially first time mothers.