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What should I do if my young child touches their genitals?

It is completely natural for children of any age to touch their own genitals. Some girls and boys are simply exploring their bodies, and others touch themselves because it feels good. Young children may rub their bodies against stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, or they may use their hands to touch their genitals. As long as they are not experimenting with objects that can hurt their reproductive anatomy, it's considered a healthy behavior.

Age-appropriate sex-positive responses to a child touching his or her genitals include: In infancy, reiterate the proper name of the body part (vulva and vagina or penis), and let your children know in a positive tone that it's okay for them to explore their body. You can say something like "that's your penis" or "that's your vulva." For toddlers and young children, use proper names for body parts and let your children know it can feel good to touch themselves. Emphasize that self-touch is something that's done in a private place, like their bedroom. You can say something like, "I know that touching yourself can feel good, but it's something to do in private. Your room is a private place. Why don't you go to your room, and when you are ready, you'll join us in the family room."
Charles I. Schwartz, MD
Pediatrics

It is common for boys and girls to explore all their body parts. Children who engage in these behaviors should be redirected to another activity. The actions are normal, and the child should not be yelled at or scolded for these behaviors. Children should be told which behaviors are public or private.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.