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Dr. Bonnie
Dr. Bonnie, Psychologist and RN
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  35 years experience counseling children and families
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My husband was cuddling with our 7 year old son on the couch

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My husband was cuddling with our 7 year old son on the couch recently when our son asked him to touch his penis. Of course my husband said no and it freaked him out on so many levels. My husband managed to calmly tell him that it was inappropriate to ask someone to touch his penis and that only he could touch his penis in the privacy of his bedroom. My son may have even tried to put my husband's had on his penis. No surprisingly, my husband is worried that something may be wrong with our son or that he will go to school and tell a story about his daddy touching his penis (which is a lie) or ask someone outside our family to touch his penis, or worst of all that someone has touched him inappropriately. I know it is totally normal for a boy to play with himself but is it also normal for a 7 year old to ask other people to touch his penis? Also, any suggestions on how to talk to a 7 year old about this so he will understand what is appropriate/not appropriate and why? He doesn't seem to get it.
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I know this is very upsetting and it is true that self exploration and even experimenting with same age peers is normal for a 5 to 6 year old or immature 7 year old. Since this request is a bit unusual, you may want to ask him straight-out: "Did anyone touch you there or have you ever touched anyone else?". He may or may not tell the truth but accept his answer whatever it is. If something did happen to him, he may be wanting to talk about it but does not know this happened. ALso remember, even though children realize that touching genitals feels good, they do not have any concept of sexual feelings.

Then, continue to use this opportunity to educate him about privacy. Repeat to him that his body is private and no one is allowed to touch his private parts. Likewise, others have a right to their privacy.

Take it a step further and talk about privacy while in bathroom (toileting or batheing) and while dressing. Tell him to make sure that doors are closed to assure his privacy and that he always knocks on a closed door and gives others their privacy. Make privacy a rule in your house. Make sure that you model giving and expecting privacy.

You also want to assure him that he can come to you if he ever feels uncomfortable about the way another person approaches him (touches him, looks at him). Tell him that it is your job to keep him safe and comfortable and that he need to tell you if he is uncomfortable.

I hope this turns out to be nothing but normal curiosity but if something did happen he should see a counselor. To protect your husband, you may want to get a counselor involved anyway and explain all that happened. Then, there will be a written record. You can tell him he's going to a counselor to help him learn about feelings. You want to keep it low key.

Again, I am sorry that you are going through this upsetting event. We get at least one inquiry like this every week so you are not alone.

I hope this helps
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