Dear avoid It Now!,

My 3 year-old stop his favourite stuffed animal at his reduced stomach area, lies on his stomach v his arms under him, and holds the stuffed animal in ar while make copulating motions. That does this off and also on during the day and also at bedtime. I feel the has come to be a behavior similar to rubbing a blanket, or chewing top top a blanket -- something that feels good and helps him walk to sleep. Nevertheless, we room at a loss around how come discourage this behavior without call his attention to it being sexual and making him more conscious the the behavior. Us don"t think he has seen something inappropriate, but that the just uncovered that the feels an excellent by accident. Should we "lose" that details stuffed animal and hope the doesn"t pick up a substitute? must we try to speak to him around it, and also if so, what have to we say?


Response:
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Dear involved Parent,

It can be uncomfortable for any type of parent come watch your child find that it feels an excellent to rub their genitals, and I’m so glad you’ve reached out to us through your questions. 

Recognizing healthy Sexual BehaviorsIt sounds favor what your child is law is age-appropriate, and also at 3 years-old this habits is what we contact ‘self-soothing behavior’ – comparable to ignorance sucking or, together you said, rubbing a blanket. You’re additionally correct that although this is normal and also healthy, it still deserves a discussion around when and where this task is appropriate. 

Although i wouldn’t take far his favorite toy, it may be valuable to have a conversation through him – not to shame him – but rather to redirect his behavior. You can say miscellaneous like, “I view that you enjoy rubbing you yourself on your stuffed animal. It might feel good to obstacle your penis on Teddy, and also that’s fine, but this is something the is excellent in private. Once you desire to rub your genitals on Teddy, you can go in her room and close the door. A exclusive activity means something we carry out alone – like as soon as you watch me nearby the door come the bathroom, you understand I want privacy. That alright if you forget sometimes, due to the fact that I’m below to remind you, okay?” girlfriend may also want come let your son know that “Teddy” requirements to continue to be in his bedroom, to reinforce his understanding about what suitable behavior looks like.

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Safety PlanningThis can additionally be component of a larger conversation approximately body rules, i m sorry would include giving him specific names for his genitals. Keep the conversation going and use teachable moments to talk to him around safety. As soon as you’re giving him a bath, ask before you wash his vul to version consent, and also remind the what his body parts are called. Take the time to speak to him about healthy touch also – to ensure the he understands how to beat safely, and so he to know what to expect from other people as well. This helps him prosper up with good information approximately privacy, respect, and also appropriate habits – something we call safety planning. You might be doing this in your house already, and if so, i encourage girlfriend to save it up.

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You may still should gently remind him around when it’s proper to touch himself, and redirect him come a much more appropriate habits when he’s in a public area (like, if you’re the end grocery shopping, or also when you’re simply in the living room). If you see this occurs as soon as he is feeling a specific way, you may want to assist him surname his emotion and also see what other sorts of activities can help him be safe – prefer drawing, to run around, or maybe just lying down through the lights off.

If your son rubs self to the suggest of hurting self or if this it s okay in the means of that enjoying various other activities, climate it would certainly be a great idea to involve his doctor to ensure the there’s nothing walk on physically that is making that uncomfortable.