Q&A: My 20-month-old likes to touch her private area. Is this normal?
I have a 20-month-old daughter and lately I noticed that she is grabbing at her private area. Is this normal? We are working on potty training so could this be tied in?
Don’t worry at all about this behavior in a 20-month-old. Toddlers are destined to explore the world around them as well as and their bodies. They discover that touching their genitals is pleasant but at this age this is neither a sexual nor an emotional experience. It can, however, become a comforting activity when a child is stressed or fatigued.
Calling attention to this behavior at this age, especially in a discouraging or negative way, can give your child the message that this is “bad” behavior, or even that she is bad, which only does more harm than good. This is normal, and probably not tied in with toilet training unless she is specifically trying to tell you she needs to urinate.
As she gets older, in her fourth or fifth year, it is fine to ask her to confine the activity to a private place and begin to teach her about privacy and modesty, but she is too young for those concepts at 20 months.