Q&A: Oh, body parts...

Lauren writes:

"My son has just discovered his penis, and loves playing with it all the time (not at school, thank goodness). We tell him it's okay to touch/play with his penis in his room, but when he does it in other areas of the house, we tell him it's private and he should go in his room if he wants to play with it. Nonetheless, he still likes to pull it out when he's sitting around the house, watching tv, etc. Any suggestions for his new found penis obsession? We want to be accepting and not shaming, but also have him gain a sense of personal boundaries (I know with two boys you've probably dealt with this before). By the way, he's three and a half."

This question is just always going to make me laugh. The good news is that he's getting the social convention, as he doesn't play with his penis at school. So he's definitely got the idea that it's something you do in private vs. public.

There are two explanations for why he's doing it at home: 1) He just isn't getting that there are different levels of privacy in your house. So it feels ok to him to whip it out in the living room. 2) He's 3.5 so he's testing boundaries, in that "I'm going to whistle innocently while I pull the dog's tail and hope you don't notice that I did it" way.

My money's on #2, but only because I think age 3.5 is the nadir of human existence. So I'd keep reinforcing the boundary, but stay unattached to his ability to comply, not making a big deal out of it, and in a few months when he swings back into equilibrium I bet he'll "remember" to keep it in his pants except when he's in his room.

Does anyone have any stories of kids not keeping it in their pants that they'd like to entertain us with?