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My Son Keeps Scratching His Privates

by Kristin Beck
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My Son Keeps Scratching His Privates

My Son Keeps Scratching His Privates

“When my son was born, he immediately started touching his privates — touching himself there as soon as he could grasp objects. He would touch it with his fingers, put things inside of it, and pull on it to see what it felt like. As far back as I can remember, he has always been into exploring everything that’s going on down there.
Now at age three, he still likes to play around with his penis and testicles (he doesn’t know how to properly masturbate yet). When we’re in public places, I have to be careful not to let him do this because it embarrasses other people who may think he’s playing with something inappropriate. On occasion, when I’m changing diapers or holding him while he plays with toys, I will inadvertently catch him playing with his private parts. This usually happens before he knows what he’s doing so he won’t even realize why I’ve stopped him from continuing. And sometimes, he’ll get frustrated trying to figure out how to move his penis through clothing.
I don’t want to stop him from this behavior completely, however. Touching, scratching, or tugging in the genital area is just a natural male instinct for boys, especially between ages 2 and 6. It doesn’t mean anything; it’s no different than girls’ desire to run their hands over their bodies to feel smoother skin. The only difference is that guys tend to explore their genitals more often than girls do. In fact, most studies show that boys begin exhibiting sexual urges around puberty, but by the time they reach adulthood, their interest in sex wanes dramatically. For example, one study found that men under 30 years old were four times less likely to experience erections than those over 40. So instead of worrying about your child being aroused inappropriately, you should focus on helping him learn healthy ways of dealing with these feelings.
As parents, we need to teach our sons about masturbation and sexuality early on. A lot of them come from traditional religious backgrounds, where masturbation is seen as taboo. But kids raised without religion are also prone to having problems with self-pleasure later in life.
The best way to talk to children about masturbation is simply by talking openly about sex itself. If you want to avoid awkwardness or embarrassment, talk about normal body functions such as urination and defecation. Explain that everyone needs to go to the bathroom every once in awhile, and tell them that we all take care of our bodies by using the restroom. Tell them that masturbation isn’t dirty or shameful, and if it makes someone happy, then it shouldn’t matter.
Here are some tips for teaching boys about masturbation:
Start young. Boys start touching themselves much earlier than girls do. By age 3, some experts say, boys should already know how to masturbate. Teach them how to keep their hands clean and point out the importance of washing their hands after handling their genitals. Make sure they understand that masturbation means rubbing their genitals against their own bodies or using objects like pens or pencils to stimulate themselves.
Keep it simple. Don’t try to explain too many details about masturbation right away. Instead, focus on basic hygiene skills. You don’t need to lecture them long about how to wash their hands well, change their underwear correctly, or wipe off any used penile tissue. Let them explore their genitals by running their hands along the outside of their penis or scrotum. Or encourage them to sit on a chair or bed and experiment with moving their hips up and down.
Don’t worry about getting caught. Kids are curious creatures, and they probably won’t be able to resist watching their mothers or fathers touch themselves. Just make sure that you don’t sneak peeks yourself. Also, remind them that it’s perfectly OK to ask questions. Tell them that you don’t mind answering their questions, but you’d rather they didn’t watch you because it keeps you from paying attention to them.
Encourage exploration. Once boys become comfortable enough to handle their genitals, encourage them to try different activities. Suggest that they massage their genitals or give them a little slap if they rub them in a certain way. Point out that it feels good to touch sensitive areas of the body, particularly if they enjoy it. Encourage them to touch their genitals in front of others. Ask them to help you clean up afterwards.
Be consistent. Praise them whenever they demonstrate appropriate behaviors, and be honest about what they did wrong. If you find that your son is uncomfortable with masturbation, don’t punish him. Simply stop the behavior until he becomes familiar with it. Then praise him again for the next step forward.
If your son does continue to touch his genitals, it’s important to discuss the issue with a trusted adult first.”

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