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Intimate Toddler Problem: Ask Dr. Miro (What You Didn’t Learn in Health Class)

Dear Dr. Miro,

Is it normal for a four year old to touch herself down there? I don’t want to give my daughter a complex but it makes me really uncomfortable. How do I make her stop? Her pre-school teacher told me that she keeps rubbing against things in the middle of the class room! I’m not a prude, but this is totally embarrassing, especially when she does it in front of Grandma in the living room.



Mommy Freak Out

Dear MFO,

It is perfectly normal for children to touch themselves. If it feels good, why would you not? Just like adults, children have different levels of  desire in regards to touch and sexual feelings. They are individuals. The problem comes with ill-defined conceptions of time and place. Many children pick up clues of what is and is not appropriate while others do not. How you react to your daughter’s early sexual explorations, regardless of your (dis-)ease, is super important as it will effect her throughout her life in ways she may not even realize.

Children can read discomfort on adults much more clearly than you may believe. Explain the concept of time and place. Most kids understand there are certain things you do in public and other things you keep to yourself. I do not believe you should figure out how to make her stop touching herself.  Merely tune her in to where and when is appropriate.

She probably knows, by now, it is not acceptable to poop on Grandma’s rug, right? Utilize this fully developed concept. Acknowledge what is going on before it sinks into her subconscious as a filthy thing to be ashamed of. Have a heart to heart with your budding lass. Something along the lines of, “I know it feels good, but touching your body is best done during independent playtime – when you are alone. Just like you use the potty, now that you are a  big girl, you can do this by yourself!” Of course, use whatever phrasing is most applicable to your child but I think you get the gist: Acknowledge. Grant permission. Create a safe space.

Lust & Happiness,

Dr. Miro

featured image credit: Geeky Bird