17 month old "exploring" the south area

Nanette - posted on 03/05/2011 ( 25 moms have responded )

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Ok, I know people say it is normal for children to "explore" their body. I grew up knowing those areas were private parts. My daughter is 17 months old and starting to touch herself during bathtime and after bathtime when we let her "air dry" for a couple minutes. I don't have a problem with her wanting to know what is down there, but at the same time I don't want her thinking it is ok to touch ourselves all the time too. I am anti-masturbation (lol) and I dont believe that it is healthy. My daughter says some words and understands alot, but Im pretty sure she won't understand me trying to tell her why we don't touch ourselves down there. I usually will push her hands away from her area and distract her, but it is really bothering me. We are going to have a boy in June and I am worried for him too. I am asking on here bc this is the "Christian" arena, and I would like some Christian peoples views. Thanks.

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Merry - posted on 03/06/2011

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Then why did God give us a clitoris?
And why do men get testicular cancer from not releasing their sperm often enough? If a man is single, should he just let the sperm build up until he gets cancer?
Should a woman ignore her sexual feelings her whole life if she doesn't find a husband?
Wouldn't all that pent up sexual energy just mean more promiscuity and one night stands etc.
For a man to have a healthy heart he should be having sex or masturbating at least three times a week. If you are single, does that mean you have to die from either heart disease or cancer......

Doesn't make any sense to me.

Rebekah - posted on 03/06/2011

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Actually, if you read up on masturbation and talk with Christian psychologists on that matter it is very unhealthy for anyone to do - male or female. Your body remembers what it likes and how it's touched. If a woman can only be stimulated through masturbation, the body will remember this, and when it comes to sex, it won't matter. This can be true for a guy as well. For more information on this, check out "Laugh Your Way to A Better Marriage" by Mark Gungor.

Rebekah - posted on 03/05/2011

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My son started exploring around 18 months and more so now since he's 2 and in the midst of potty training. I just tell him what it is and how it works for going potty. We tell him no one is allowed to touch him there. The less big deal you make out of it, the less a child will continue to explore. Just have to realize the older your daughter gets and begins to feel her urges for getting ready to go potty the more she wants to know about that area. There are some really good books that help with this topic on Focus on the Family website.

Nicole - posted on 03/21/2011

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I understand this was posted awhile ago, but thought I would share my experience. When my daughter was approximately 15 mos I noticed that she would sit and move around rhythmically with a stuffed animal or a pillow under her or between her legs. Ok, yes I had a mom "freak out" moment and took her out of the crib for some outside play time. But it really bothered me to think of my baby having any kind of sexual feelings. I sought some advice and was told that often children will discover that it feels good to touch their genitals because the area is sensitive, but because they haven't progressed through puberty, it doesn't feel arousing. Yes, I wanted her behavior to go away, but not because it was bad for her, but because it bothered me. As for tactics on how to deal, I completely ignored the behavior, but distracted her by giving her my attention. Babies would much rather spend time with mommy than a stuffed animal. As for the touching, we had a thorough lesson. The truth is whether you believe masturbation is bad or not, we females have to touch ourselves "down there" to stay clean, during that time of the month if we use tampons, etc,. So in the bathtub one day when she seemed curious about what was going on, I got her a mirror and let her see what was down there. She really wasn't curious anymore, once we talked about "pee pee, etc. I feel like it is her body and if she wants to see it touch it, explore it, let her. But I also think that sometimes their little brains are just curious and helping them solve the mystery might just end the whole exploring thing.
Nicole

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Alisha - posted on 04/07/2011

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My daughter did that for a little bit when she was around 2 or 3, I told her don't touch your 'front butt' unless you are wiping after going on the potty. She stopped on her own, I think your daughter is young and you can explain it to her when she is 2 or so, it bothered me soo much too so you are not alone! I wouldn't worry too much about it, she's too young to even know anything about what her private parts are for.

Merry - posted on 03/22/2011

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My adult sister still has never used a mirror to look down there. She feels it's just too gross and wrong. That's what came from my parents telling her privates are not to be touched etc. It's sad.

Jodie - posted on 03/17/2011

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Nannette, I agree with so much that you have said, and I encourage you to keep doing what you are doing. To those who say that for kids to masturbate it is ok, I agree that it is not a sexual thing for them and it does not start out as sinful, but I have a friend who can bear witness to the fact that it is harmful. Not only was she young when she started, but she also has aspergers syndrome. She has come a long way and is a wonderful godly young woman, but the habit she picked up as an innocent child has presented some very real struggles. It started with a struggle to keep a pure mind as a result of it (now that she knows it is sexual). Then it progressed to further temptation, including within her romantic relationships. Long story short, she wishes her parents would have prevented her from doing it as a child. (Her own words.)
Someone else made a comment about women ignoring their sexual desires and whatnot... I for one have been raised in a masturbation-free house, and am incredibly grateful for that. Honestly, I could care less that I didn't know all that much about that part of my body, because to me it is private and for potty and sexual purposes. What all do I need to know about it?? Anyway, I was in no way hindered, oppressed, about to explode with sexual urges, or whatever you want to call it because I never tried to satisfy myself sexually. I firmly believe that it has been very helpful in remaining pure before marriage as well as in our marriage that I did not. We as humans struggle so much with being selfish as it is; it would have only made things more difficult. My husband, on the other hand, was raised that it was ok, and it has created MAJOR problems for us in our marriage. I feel sorry for whoever said they don't care if their husband masturbates, because she is allowing a separation in her marriage and doesn't even realize it. She should be enough to satisfy her husband, and if he doesn't see it that way, then there is no security that his lack of satisfaction will not progress to "breaking her rules" about thinking about other women etc. and turning into something neither of them ever anticipated. Not to mention, it can very easily become an addiction, and for most men already is before they ever leave high school. I think that people need to stop spreading the lie that "everybody does it" or that men have to do it. That is completely untrue. It is also completely untrue that masturbating will help people to not have sex. It does the complete opposite. It's toying with your sexual desires and confusing yourself. It becomes a familiar feeling and the desire to share it is even stronger when temptation arises. Plus, sex isn't intended to be had by one person by themselves. It is meant to be shared and unifying. It is confusing when someone first learns to tend to themselves sexually then gets married and is supposed to serve their spouse sexually. A couple cannot be truly satisfied sexually until they learn to serve each other above themselves, and masturbation is a huge hinderance to that. It is not an easy process for either spouse to have to unlearn and correct that kind of thinking.
As far as a little kid goes, I think you are right to tell your daughter not to play with herself. I don't think you need to make a big deal. But if you gently let her know that she shouldn't touch herself and give a brief explanation, she will eventually catch on. If it takes a little while, that is ok. It will not hurt her to "explore" a little. She just needs to learn that she shouldn't make a toy out of it. She will be just fine. The important thing is that you have the right idea, and you are going to teach her that. You are her example, and that will be important, too. Keep up the good work. Do not be discouraged.

Jennifer - posted on 03/15/2011

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This is perfectly normal. My son who is 19 months and potty training does the same thing. I allow for it but I don't draw attention to it. It is a comfort thing for him to understand that this is where he goes potty from. He is doing it less and less now, but I realized early on that the more I fought against it the more he wanted to do it. Now that he understands what it is for, he usually just tries to be like daddy...only tough it for potty purposes. Just don't draw attention to it and if you need to look away for privacy. I can tell you from experience the more you reject or tell them no, the more rebellious they will be and want to do it against you. You want to make sure you are there for them in this time of need, or you may set yourself up for more problems later on if you see the behavior when they are teenagers. Again with that, the more you say no, the more they want to do it. I am working with my step kids now to understand it is a natural thing that has been around many years, and it helps them understand that there is a time and place for this. I used to be anti-masturbation, but now I realize that everyone is going to be different. Your kids are not going to want to do everything you do. You should cater what you teach to their needs. When they get older you are going to have to put your ideals aside and listen to them more on what they feel. I am not saying let them do whatever they want, but certainly try to help them along the right path. Masturbation is not a negative thing, but not letting them explore their body can be damaging and detrimental to their development. I never get a bad feeling that it is wrong, so I feel I am on the right path as I do pray constantly that I am doing the right thing for my kids.

Heidi - posted on 03/15/2011

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I have 2 boys and my 5 yr old still has wandering hands. Of course for children this is not sexual, but the best thing you can do is distract the child, and as they get older, tell them that it is not good manners to touch their body all the time. It is really a non-issue, We simply train good behavior, as we would in any other area.

Alana - posted on 03/15/2011

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I have a 6 year old boy who is always putting his hands down his pants. I tell him for cleanliness reasons that he needs to keep his hands out and that it is not appropriate. If he puts his hands down there, he needs to go wash his hands. I don't want remnant pee and poop spread around the house so we're all getting sick. The more they understand that it is simply unclean, the less likely the habit is to form. The topic of masturbation is for an older child and can be taught through the Bible when they are ready.

Laura - posted on 03/14/2011

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Boys and girls both will touch themselves at that age, and older. My son is 6 now and occasionally has a question about what's going on down there, or what my breasts are, or where babies come from, etc. Its natural curiosity, not sexual in nature, so take it for what its worth. I answer honestly, at the level where he is. Your daughter should know the proper names for things "down there" and that it is called private for a reason - you don't touch or show private areas around/to other people. Keep it short and sweet, but don't forbid b/c that will make her more curious about what you are so scared of.

April - posted on 03/10/2011

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You said, "I don't have a problem with her wanting to know what is down there, but at the same time I don't want her thinking it is ok to touch ourselves all the time too." How is she to know what is down there if she's not allowed to "explore" it, and it doesn't sound like she's doing it "all the time" but rather, just at bathtime. And as far as the "masturbation" issue, I think it's irrevelant. "Masturbation" that you are speaking of is sexual, and what your daughter is doing has nothing to do with sex, but is just what you called it, EXPLORING.

Heather - posted on 03/09/2011

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First there is nothing wrong a child touching themselves. There is no way that they are "lusting" when they do it, and it is purely because it feels good. My son did for a little while, and I noticed the more I pushed his hand away the more he thought it was a game. The less I paid attention to it, the less he did it. It is just simply a phase, and it is incumbent upon us to teach them the right way. I understand that we will differ on the thought of masturbation. I know that when I do it I think of my husband. I think that if teach our kids that it is thoughts and not the acts that problem we will be able allow them to reign in the thought. We are masters of our mind. We determine what we think and when. If we make things out be forbidden then we do not teach our kids how to reign in their minds rather we simply gloss of the issue. Our kids have to know that the act itself is not the problem it is the thoughts that may come with it. I told my son when he was going through the phase that he can touch it all he wants but if there is anyone who touches it before he is married he is in trouble. : )

Merry - posted on 03/08/2011

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Just be careful, we all know what humans do with forbidden fruit. And forbidding her from her own body parts often can cause serious self consciousness and disconnect with her own body.
This happened to my sister, we were both told no touching ourselves, she accepted it as fact and now as an adult she still is afraid of her own sexuality, she feels sex is dirty and her body is gross.
I went the other way and explored the forbidden fruit and delt with serious guilt and self hatred because I believed I was such a horrible person for feeling sexual.

These are the two scenarios I am trying to avoid inflicting on my own children. I want them to understand they have beautiful bodies, that have some parts that are private. There's no rules on what my kids can do with their own bodies as long as it isn't causing them harm.

But I understand you believe differently, I just worry about the effect it could have on your daughter based on me and my sisters experiences.

Nanette - posted on 03/08/2011

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Thank you guys. I know its not technically masturbation. But i dont want it to turn into masturbation. My husband and I both do not believe masturbation is something God approves of. Sex was meant to be with a man and woman, not alone. So thank you. I am just going to talk to her and keep telling her we do not touch down there.

Vanessa - posted on 03/07/2011

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When my son (now 8) was that age, he would frequently hold his privates and rub his nipples. When I saw him do it, I would tell him to stop. I didn't give him an explanation. It was just a no-no although I never said it was a no-no. I simply told him to stop doing that. He would also grab himself in his sleep. My husband said it is a source of comfort for boys but I wasn't having it. So, when I saw him do it, I simply removed his hands and said stop.

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I don't believe masturbation in and of itself is a sin. I do believe it CAN be a sin and if you believe it is a sin.... then it is for you no matter what.

That being said.... a toddler exploring his/her private parts is not the same as masturbation.

Of course, since you only want advice from people that are anti-masturbation.... I'm not the one to respond here. Good luck!

Melissa - posted on 03/07/2011

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This is a hard one. Having been the child that masterbated as young as I can remember it is kind of a touchy, no pun intended, subject. My grandmother bought me a CareBear and told me to hug it when I felt like touching myself which made me feel like I was bad. I am going to have to read up on this when/if we go through this stage. I wasnt thinking bad thoughts when I was little (4yrs old), it just felt good. I would just be careful to not make it a big deal. I personally do not think that it is good for anyone to do it. I do not believe any man or woman for that matter can keep a one track mind while doing it. My husband has been away for 7 months now and Im not going to say I have been perfect, it is a struggle of my own, but I know that I feel dirty when I do it. I do wonder if someone would have approached the situation with me when I was younger differently if I would not be addicted to sexual pleasures the way that I am. Oh this fallen world that we live in. I love my life but can't wait to live with Christ in the next!
♥ Living4Him ♥

Kelsey - posted on 03/07/2011

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I haven't had this problem with my girls, currently 18 mo and 4. I believe with my 4 yr and when she was younger she would touch down there (not often)and I tell her what it is and she would stop. Its a hard question also because it sounds like there are mixed views on masturbation. I don't think its the act of it that is a sin, but the thoughts that go along with it. I try not to when I'm home alone and my husband and I have a good sexual relationship. We do, sometimes, like to do it in front of each other and I don't think that is wrong; it is just another kind of intimacy I have with him.
Good Luck Nanette, and now i'm going to be keeping an eye on my younger one now, lol.

Merry - posted on 03/06/2011

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I'm totally ok with him masturbating on his own, but my rule is no porn, no thinking of other women! He has pictures of me (clothed) in his wallet, as well as mental images I'm sure he can conjure up. His sex drive is much higher then mine especially with my two year old son needing me so much, breastfeeding him, as well as I'm 7 months pregnant so honestly I don't wish for sex too much. So he's allowed to masturbate if he feels the physical need to.
I usually don't masturbate because it's not really fair to expend any of my sexual desires without him! When I'm in the mood it's time to be together so while he is ok with me doing it, it's rare enough that we enjoy all my sex moods together :)

Nanette - posted on 03/06/2011

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True. Lol. So r u ok with ur husband masturbating on his own? Does porn work its way into that?

Nanette - posted on 03/06/2011

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Rebekah, Thank you. I have not gone on FOF for this issue. I grew up with my mom having every book Dobson wrote and now that I am a mom I find myself at their website alot. So thank you for reminding me to check them out. I am also against masturbation. Masturbation ruins marriages, I have never known a man or woman who has masturbated without lusting... to me they go hand in hand. I have heard of children as young as 6 months old masturbating. Scary if you think about it. to them they do it I guess bc it feels good, but you think they are going to stop? I doubt it.
Laura, as i said before I am against a single person or a married person or children masturbating. I don't think that is what God intended we are humans to do.You said "If a man is single, should he just let the sperm build up until he gets cancer?" men's bodies are made to release that "build up" when they sleep, I guess its also known as wet dreams? if men were made to have sex 3 times a week then what about those 6 weeks after we give birth? do you go against ur doctor and have sex before the 6 weeks is up? I don't know about "not releasing" being a cause of cancer, but i doubt that is the main cause.
Rebekah thanks for your advice, I know she just wants to know what we are doing down there you know when we have to wipe her and bathe her. I sometimes freak out I try not to, I just try to distract her from doing it. I limit the time the diaper is off, but I will be starting potty training soon too and could just use some advice from people who don't believe masturbation is ok.

Merry - posted on 03/06/2011

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I see nothing wrong with kids touching themselves, the only rule we will have is you only touch there in the bathroom or in your bedroom. Masturbation is not sexual for kids, it's just comforting. I think the only problem with masturbation is if you have immoral thoughts or lust after other people while doing it. Pushing her hand away likely makes her more intrigued with the area, and can cause her to want to explore more and more.

I heard one defense for masturbation, 'if a woman knows how to satisfy her sexual urges on her own she won't be as desperate to have her desires satisfied by a man'
So maybe girls masturbating will allow them to abstain from sex until they are happily married.

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