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03 Feb 2004

IS IT NORMAL FOR A 3 YEAR OLD
Dear Doc, my son is now 3 years old recently he "found" himself, time and again he will go to his room saying that he wants to sleep and close the door behind him, when I go to see what he is doing he is naked and playing with his "private parts"... he never did this, just suddenly one day he woke up and started doing it.... My concern: is it possible that someone at the nusery school is touching him there, should I be concerned or is it normal, and if it is not normal how do I go about finding out what the cause is. PLEASE HELP I am really worried.
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Dear mother, ]
yes, it can be rather alarming when such an innocent-seeming 3-year-old suddenly discovers, with such enthusiasm, the extra fun some body parts can provide ( come to think of it, I come across not a few 18-year-olds with much the same atitude !). It is normal, and nothing to be alarmed about. And your lad has already recognizd that these are meant to be private pleasures, and is discrete about it.
I remember chatting to Bill Masters ( of Masters & Johnson sex experts fame ) who spoke about how, when practising obstetris, they'd take bets as to how soon an infant boy would have an erection. So it is very natural and not worth alarm. Of course, some children do get interfered with at nursery school, but that's not necesary to cause a kid to discover self-pleasuring, and masturbation doesn't suggest that there has been any form of abuse.
Storm's response is entirely sensible, and raises also the point that this is an excellent time, not for hauling out the anatomical charts, but for starting a lofelong occasional discussion with the boy about sexuality, so he knows the right polite words, and roughly what the diferences are --- and, above all, that he discoveres that this is both a private thing to be discrete about, but also something he can feel entirely comfortable talking to you about
That can be a most valuable safeguard against later problems.
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