We have a 2 year old son. He is our first child. Recently we've started noticing some weird behavior. Below are the behaviors we have observed.

  • When he is with me, sometimes he lifts my shirt and presses my nipples. He tries to do the same with his mom.
  • Sometimes he comes back to me/my wife and hugs and swings his lower part of his body.
  • He sucks cheeks and chin.

The above symptoms scare us and appear to us to be a kind of sexual behavior. How should we deal with this behavior?

  • It sounds like you are maybe dealing with a mixture/overlap of normal "psychosexual" stages: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychosexual_development Maybe related to potty training? How's that going? Anyway, it'll very likely work out normally.
    – Jeff Y
    Dec 21, 2015 at 0:16
  • 2
    I would just remember that not everything that has a sexual connotation to you has the same for him. He is likely unaware of any sexual connection with nipples for example, and probably also just likes to swing on things, you being among the things he swings on Dec 21, 2015 at 1:17
  • And when had you stopped breastfeeding him? Or he is sucking mom's breasts yet? My three daughters during breastfeeding were extremely interested in my male breasts - they gives no milk! It was fun for them.
    – Gangnus
    Dec 21, 2015 at 11:20
  • Is Freudian development theory still considered relevant in psychology? I thought it was generally regarded as flawed and unscientific.
    – Egg
    Dec 23, 2015 at 21:30
  • And yet, kids are still doing all these "odd" things. The value of Freud is that he recognized these types of things as "normal development", whether the details are flawed or not.
    – Jeff Y
    Dec 24, 2015 at 11:18

1 Answer 1


Nipples stick out (well, comparatively) as do ears, eyeglasses, ponytails, noses, moles, bandaids, etc. That makes them (by that very simple virtue) more interesting than the area surrounding them.

If your son tried to smoosh your nose all the time, I don't think you'd think "sexual???" at all. It's unusual for a normal (meaning non-sexually-traumatized) preschooler to act out sexually. Please know this. (Also, I'm not suggesting that he's been abused. I'm suggesting that pushing on nipples when you have the chance is fun for a two-year-old.)

How should we deal with this behavior?

First, I want to re-emphasize it's not sexual, nor is it a particularly irritating behavior (in my opinion, anyway.) Deal with this behavior the same way you would deal with any innocent (but unwanted?) behavior. You could:

  • ignore it completely (your lack of a reaction might make it less fun for him.)
  • gently but consistently say "no", remove his hand, and cover your chest/ wipe your face
  • distract him with something more interesting (start telling him a story, or reach for a toy for him to poke; don't make it too obvious or he might associate pushing your nipples with a fun reward!)
  • give him other toys that squeak, or have eyes that bug out, or do other fun things when he pushes and prods them, and perhaps toys he can safely put in his mouth?
  • teach him to kiss instead of suck on your face


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