How Can Do I Keep My Child’s Hand Out of the Toddler Diaper?

“Gross! Stop doing that, Tommy!” yells Julie at her two- year- old son who has his hand down his diaper. Julie is disgusted and fed up with her son’s habit. He continues to put his hands down his toddler diaper no matter where they are or who is around. When Julie scolds him, he stops for a while but then goes right back to it. This is a habit that he just can’t seem stop. Julie is embarrassed and repulsed by this behavior, but doesn’t know how to make Tommy break this habit.

Toddlers can behave in ways that seem gross and embarrassing to you and dealing with them can be frustrating. Although it may seem tough to keep your child’s hand out of the toddler diaper, there are simple solutions that can create more socially-acceptable behavior.

Reasons Toddlers Put Their Hands Down Their Pants:

It’s common at many child development stages for children to touch their genitalia, for different reasons at different ages.

During toddler development, the cause could be any of the following reasons:

  • It may be that your toddler has an irritation in that area and needs to feel relief from it. Rather than chafing being the result of the toddler playing with himself it could be the reason. Don’t assume anything.
  • Your toddler may experience pleasant feelings when they touch certain body parts. This is why you will find this behavior in children of both genders, from toddlers through adulthood.

While it is natural, toddler self-fondling can become a problem if it is done so obsessively that they end up chafing themselves. Or children may pull down the toddler diaper so low that their urine overflows and soaks their outfits. The ultimate gross-out, of course, is when the hand comes back out of the toddler diaper with bodily substance that can end up on other people and furniture. Yuck!

Things to Avoid:

While it’s socially taboo to behave this way, especially in front of others, you want to avoid shaming your children or punishing them. They won’t understand what’s wrong and when done in front of others it can embarrass the child, which could then lead to resentment or revenge.

You also want to avoid drawing more attention to the act, such as laughing about it like it’s cute. This could escalate the problem and turn it into intentional attention-seeking behavior.

Solutions to Keeping Toddlers Hands Out of the Diaper:

Since self-fondling is a natural act, but one that is socially unacceptable, the key is to teach concepts and skills, so children eventually learn how to do it in socially acceptable ways:

  • First, eliminate the possibility that there is a true irritation.
  • If your children understand, explain to them about their bodies’ pressure points and set some boundaries around when and where it is acceptable to experiment with their bodies’ sensations.
  • Give your children objects to hold while changing their toddler diaper or when in public, without mentioning self-fondling. This keeps their hands busy.
  • Give your toddlers non-verbal reminders remove their hands or give positive verbal directions. In other words, instead of saying, “Don’t do that,” which may simply be confusing, say, “hands out of pants” or “keep your hands outside your clothes.”
  • Use creative strategies, such as buying footie pajamas or having children wear zip-up pajamas backwards. As long as the idea isn’t humiliating or physically punishing, try it!

When toddlers put their hands down their diapers it might be embarrassing and disgusting for you. Once you teach them when and where this appropriate behavior can be done you can avoid the embarrassment. Then, even though you know it is happening, it will likely be behind closed doors where you and others don’t have to watch.

For more tips and solutions to help your children stop embarrassing habits get a free preview of  The Parent’s Toolshop® and its unique Universal Blueprint® problem-solving system. You will be less frustrated, respond more calmly and feel more confident in any parenting situation.

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Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is president of Parent’s Toolshop® Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. She has 30+ years experience as a top-rated speaker and parenting expert to the media worldwide, including serving as the Co-Producer and Parenting Expert for the Emmy-nominated Ident-a-Kid television series. She is the author of the award-winning book, The Parent’s Toolshop® and countless multimedia resources that support and educate parents from diverse backgrounds and needs, and other adults who live or work with children. You can find them at her award-winning website, www.ParentsToolshop.com.

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