Updated: Feb 3, 2018
"Consider the possibility that he's stressed, bored, lonely, or anxious"
Many 3 to 4 year old are oblivious to the notion that their private parts should be, well, private. Preschoolers often develop a fascination with their genitals and (as with everything else they're learning about) are eager to share their discoveries with others. Although you may not be sure how to react when your son repeatedly sticks his hands in his pants or your daughter plays doctor with a friend, keep in mind that such curiosity is perfectly normal for kids this age.
Children are sensual from birth. Since they're continually cuddled, rocked, fed, and bathed, their lives revolve around their bodily sensations. And since many 3 - 4 year old have recently graduated from diapers, gaining greater access to their private parts. Some children touch themselves frequently and may do it unconsciously at bedtime or when playing quietly.
SIGMUND FREUd's theory
SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT IN CHILDREN
In Freud's view, each stage focused on sexual activity and the pleasure received from a particular area of the body.
This focus shifts to the anus as they begin toilet training and attempt to control their bowels.
The focus moves to genital stimulation and the sexual identification that comes with having or not having a penis
At this age, your child is also starting to grasp the concept of gender identity, that boys and girls have something different in their underpants.
" Learning that gender is permanent and that having a penis or a vagina is the most important part of being male or female "
says clinical psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., author of Playful Parenting(Ballantine, 2001) and a member of the Parentsadvisory board
However, your child's exploration is scientific, not sexual
"Her experiments may look like play to you, but they're actually serious study,"
says Deborah M. Roffman, a human-sexuality educator and author of But How'd I Get in There in the First Place? Talking to Your Young Child About Sex (Perseus, 2002)
WHAT'S SO FUNNY?
For example, when a boy covers his penis with a cup and shouts, 'Look, I don't have a penis anymore!' or a girl holds a stick to her groin to pretend that she does have one, they're testing the hypothesis that genitals can't change.
Preschool boys, in particular, may seem to get very silly about their private parts. Face it, they'll probably be talking about penises for many years to come but it's best not to overreact. By ignoring your child's exhibitionism, you'll take some of the thrill out of it.
"When your child pulls out his penis and jokes about it, don't scold him"
"It's crucial not to make your child feel ashamed"
Dr. Cohen says
However, if he is doing it constantly and seems unable to be comforted by anything else, Dr. Cohen says, consider the possibility that he's stressed, bored, lonely, or anxious.
This happened at our very own 4 year old classroom, a boy who have just graduated from his diapers secretly playing his genitals under the table. When the teacher caught him doing that, she privately talked to him about it outside. At first he refused to talk, and thought that he would be scolded. Then, the teacher said with a smile
" I'm not mad, I just want to talk"
The boy quickly stood up and smile. Then the teacher asked him about what they learnt last week, he recalled and answered "The Invisible Germs"
The teacher started asking him about his genitals whether is it clean or dirty since urine comes out from there. The boys started to understand and seems to be disgusted with his finger where he have touched and play with his genitals.
Talk to them truthfully to their level of understanding, together we can educate them better.