Is it normal for an eight-year-old boy to be touching himself?


We have custody of an 8-year-old boy. During the first six years of his life, he was exposed to drugs, sex, filthy language, compulsive lying, and a lot of antisocial behavior from his mother and other adults in his life.

He frequently puts his hands down his pants out in the open, and I have gone into his room and witnessed him with his pants down and kneeling on the bed. He jumped up real fast when I came in. There have been other instances when I come in and he also jumps up really fast as if he’s doing something he shouldn’t. He has engaged in some filthy talk at school a couple of times which we have handled.

Having said all that, his behavior has progressively been getting better, but as we expected, it is a slow process with setbacks at times. We are working with him on respect for others, putting others before himself, getting along with and picking good friends, etc. When he gets out of line, he is lovingly, but firmly disciplined. He is being raised up in the church and enjoys reading his Bible and going to Bible study.

Is it normal for an 8-year-old to be fondling himself on a regular basis at his age?


Given his background, it is possible that he was sexually abused. Such makes a boy aware of sexual acts earlier than usual and with the approaching changes, he is going to have strong conflicting emotions. I’ve seen boys in these sorts of situations act out in seemingly random ways because they don’t know how to handle their memories and feelings.

But in regards to your question, the genitals give even little boys pleasurable feelings, though they are mild compared to the feelings after he starts developing. What he is likely doing is calming himself (without realizing it) by doing something that feels good. While it doesn’t frequently happen because most boys are discouraged from doing this, he didn’t have that feedback. At this point, I would try a calm, reasoned approach. “Honey, I know that it feels good, but it isn’t proper to touch your private areas when other people are around.” After the explanation, boys best respond with short reminders: “Hands out.”

All of this is assuming that he is not experiencing precocious puberty (showing outward signs of changing before the age of nine).

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