Nixon says to me this morning "Mom, do you know where I'm super ticklish?", I guess the usual body parts: feet, tush, belly. He says "Nope. Right here" and starts tickling his groin area.
Oh sweet chili pepper on the vine!
Now, there are a couple ways to handle this. Tell him to stop doing that immediately, and make him feel shame for finding pleasure in touching his own body, or simply talk to him about it. Guess what I did?
me: Nixon, I'm glad you found a place that makes you feel good when you touch it on your body but let's talk about this for a minute.
Nixon: Okay. Wanna tickle me?
me: Nixon, that's kind of the thing I want to talk to you about. You should be the only person to tickle your peenie right now. You're big enough that you don't need mom or dad to touch you there, unless you're sick or hurt. Your friends shouldn't touch you there (yet) and unless mom or dad is in the room with you, even a doctor shouldn't touch you there.
Nixon: Oh. OKay.
me: Has anyone ever tried to tickle you there?
me: Good. If anyone ever does, you tell mom or dad. Or another adult.
Nixon: But I can tickle it?
me: Of course! I like tickling myself, even though I don't have a peenie. And Dad tickles himself. Lots of people tickle themselves because it feels good, but they only do it alone and not in front of other people (yet). The rules change when you get older, but for now, if you want to tickle yourself you can do it in your bedroom. Just tell us you want some alone time.
me: Just wash your hands when you're done!
Was it a little uncomfortable? Not really. He's 6, he's not really asking about masturbation. He's discovered something that feels good and he wanted to share it with me. That's awesome! That's a great sign about the bond and the relationship I'm building with him. My parenting style isn't for everyone, but I never had open talks with my parents. I was shamed about my body explorations instead of talked to about them. It wasn't helpful. My takeaway from that was to do the exact opposite when/if I became a parent.
Pretty sure I'm doing exactly that with Nixon. And it feels good.