20 months old son masturbating , Is it normal?

20 months old son masturbating , Is it normal?

Dr. Thea-Nicole Davis is our Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist who answers your questions and addresses your concerns on medical matters pertaining to bumps, babies and beyond. Dr. Davis is mother to 3 yr old Imani. She is an avid reader who, like all our contributing writers, has a passion for children and parenting. Dr. Davis lives in Mandeville, and practices in both Kingston and Mandeville, Jamaica. Send your questions to info@b3caribbeanmagazine.com

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Dear Doctor Thea: I have an awkward question. My 20 month old son has begun to masturbate,
and I don’t know how to deal with this. My Mother-In-Law says to slap him, and stop him. Is it
normal? What do I do?

Firstly, please do not use such a harsh means of punishment for this act. Masturbation is a common childhood habit that
both girls and boys engage in. It is a behaviour used to explore his or hers external genitalia and is perfectly normal and a
part of the developmental process. If you “slap” him what you are doing is labelling this act as bad, or dirty. This will create
a sense of guilt and secrecy that can have major effects on his self-esteem and may be unhealthy for his sexual development.
Therefore this is one advice that you can comfortably ignore from your Mother-In-Law.
With that aside you need to set limits. Begin by explaining to your child that it is a private activity, much like toileting,
and should be limited to the bedroom or bathroom. Try distracting your child by getting him interested in another activity
with his hands. Increase the amount of parental affection as children usually perform this act for comfort.
If masturbation becomes compulsive and interferes with his normal activities or if he cannot be distracted easily from this
activity then it may indicate a more serious psychological or personal problem and consultation with a pediatrician is necessary.
If this does not pertain to your child presently be patient with him, there is
no need to worry, or to react with embarrassment or anger. Instead take it
in stride and recognize it is a part of the normal human sexual experience.

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