My toddler is touching his rectum. Is this normal?

I found your blog and hoped to have you ease my mind. My son is struggling in day care and screams historically.  I hate that he is even in daycare so this is hard for me to begin with. But now he has started steering his finger into his rectum every time I take his diaper off. Is this normal? It’s so disgusting as a parent.  He tries to insert his finger every time and then he jumps and acts weird. Like a response to the sensation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

It sounds like your son is probably a toddler, under the age of 2 or 3?  Bodily exploration is perfectly normal at this age – with lots of time spent touching the genital and/or anal areas.  They are figuring out their body parts and the sensations that go along with them.  And some of this behavior can also accompany the process of potty training.  The best thing is to not over-react.  I would caution from shaming words such as “gross,” “dirty,” “yucky” as well as shaming tones of voice or facial expressions.  You can explain that poop comes out of your butt, anus, rectum (whichever anatomically correct word you prefer) and poop has germs that we don’t want in our mouth or other parts of our body – so have him wash his hands if you catch him doing this during the day or after a diaper change.  If he’s in the bathtub then you can either allow him to explore until he gets bored of it, or distract him with other toys/activities.  This behavior has nothing to do with whether or not he is in daycare – it’s common behavior among many toddlers regardless of the type of care taking they receive.  Those issues have more to do with attachment – and it’s normal as well that both you and him may be struggling with some separation anxiety.  If any of these issues continue to cause you distress, I would suggest speaking with your pediatrician.

Even though I don’t agree with his use of the word “yucky” – here is another opinion on the matter:

Gross Toddler Behaviors

Several of my readers also mentioned to rule out the possibility of pinworms, which can be easily picked up and passed around in day care centers, family systems, schools, etc.

Pinworms


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