Child Masturbation?

Sarah - posted on 03/25/2011 ( 36 moms have responded )

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Do you think it is okay for a child (say age 5 and under) to masturbate? I have a friend whose little boy masturbates when he's upset...like he does it anywhere and everywhere....and I was wondering if this is normal?

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Johnny - posted on 03/25/2011

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Everywhere and anywhere? No, it should be done in private.

As a result of being upset? That probably indicates a greater emotional issue at hand. I find that concerning.

Otherwise, I think child masturbation is completely and totally normal. It is a child's way of learning about their bodies and how to achieve pleasure.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 03/26/2011

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my kids don't do it, but i think it is completely normal. if either of my kids start doing it, i will never berate them. that will make it shameful for the rest of their lives. i will teach tem about privacy.

Krista - posted on 03/26/2011

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How do you teach a three-year-old ANY manners, really? It's one of those slow progressions, and hopefully he'll eventually get it. Hopefully he'll someday clue in that masturbating, much like picking your nose or reading Ayn Rand, just really shouldn't be done where other people can see you.

Nicole - posted on 03/26/2011

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The two extremes, nudist and extremely open about bodily matters and repressed, and shameful about bodily matters are not the only ways that families relate to their primal drives, but repression is closely associated with some organized religions, Christianity one of them. That does not mean that most Christians are sexually repressed and ashamed of their primal drives. I was raised Catholic, and for me sexuality and spirituality were separate

Krista - posted on 03/26/2011

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I'm with the others. I think it's perfectly natural, but kids need to be taught that it's something that's done in private.

And I can see how he'd find it comforting, but it would probably be worthwhile trying to teach the kid other, more publicly-acceptable methods of self-soothing, because right now, it seems like he only has that one trick in his repertoire.

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MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 03/18/2012

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OMG Johnny - thanks for the laugh before I start my day!



I agree with the majority here. It is not a bad, dirty or wrong thing to do. Ever. At such a young age it most definitely is not sexual but, I imagine (I am not 5 or under anymore - oh how I wish) that it just feels good and they are just investigating. However, yes it would be best and most appropriate to be done in private. Not because it is any of the above negative verbs I used but because it is a personal part of their body.



I don't recall my daughter every doing it but that does not go to say she didn't. Maybe I was just lucky and she did it in private from the get go. My son is still in diapers but he does have fun with his penis when I am changing him. I am always so worried he is going to pee, since it ends up pointing me right in the face!! lol Of course, I can't tell him to do it in private then, so I have to endure any flying pee's, if and when it happens. ;)

Alicia - posted on 03/18/2012

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I guess by definition, masturbation means stimulating yourself. In that case, my son who recently discovered his penis is masturbating. Of course, he doesn't do it like a mature experienced male does it, but he plays with it according to his age. I'm sure he doesn't do it because it hurts when he does it. It's because he gets an erection and is aroused. I know that sounds weird and awkward, and as a mom I don't dwell on it in that way, but that's what it is. As understanding develops, there should be guidance, but other than that, it's natural. Nobody taught my son to do that because it felt good. He just figured it out.

Charlie - posted on 03/27/2011

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Yes , it is natural and normal as long as they learn there is a time and a place and that it should be done in private .

Johnny - posted on 03/27/2011

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Huh? Is he sticking his fingers in his butt? If he's bathing regularly, the penis isn't that dirty. It's not like he's ejaculating at age 3. Perhaps he should wash his hands before.....

[deleted account]

I think it is fine in private but that it needs to stay private. I think his mom needs to make that clear and to also make clear that nobody wants to see it, or hear about it. He also needs to be aware of the fact that every single time he touches himself he needs to wash his hands. That is just nasty.

Stifler's - posted on 03/27/2011

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I don't remember a sermon about masturbation ever. Most of the sermons at my parents church were about tithing...

Sarah - posted on 03/27/2011

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I can understand exactly where both Laura & Lisa are coming from. I, too, was raised in a Christian home, went to sunday school & youth group on a regular basis, and even graduated from a Christian high school. I have some underlying issues about sex & masturbation being a bad and dirty thing (even though I know deep down inside that it's not.) I'm assuming it stems from how I grew up & the influences of my church and school. Even though I'm married, I still have problems thinking that masturbation is okay. Even though I know it's normal & natural, just the thought of my kids masturbating makes me cringe. I know that's silly, but it's the truth.

Minnie - posted on 03/27/2011

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I too was taught that, coming from a Christian home. It also was preached from the pulpit in church. Led to me having self-confidence issues. I've been married nearly seven years and only recently have been coming out of my shell.

The underlying message that my body is dirty and wrong really affected me.

Merry - posted on 03/27/2011

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Jenn, Christianity has a very very wide spectrum of beliefs and practices, honestly I find it hard to believe if two families both claiming Christianity would be the same.

My Christian family and yours are different. That doesn't make either one better or worse per say, I'm sure both of our families had their strengths and weaknesses, mine happened to struggle in the sex aspect. Nothing offensive to you, just how my parents decided to do things!

[deleted account]

This was just brought up to me yesterday by my mom she expressed concern that my 3 year old son used to touch himself when his diaper was off, it was more so just exploring that area much like he plays with his nose or feet and he hasn't been doing that for quite a while now so it struck me as odd that it was brought up. Anyway she mentioned her concern because her friend's little girl NEVER does it apparently so of course something must be wrong with my son. Every professional (doctor, health nurse, baby book etc.) says that its completely normal and every mom I know will say yes their kids do it as well I never thought it was wrong or odd just natural exploration of their body just something to request they do in private and nothing to freak out about or to make them feel bad about. So when she tells me this ladys child never does it my first thought was how odd, I figured either she was lying, or her daughter just hadn't discovered herself that way yet, perhaps she tried and the action was met with negativity so she doesn't do it out of fear of being in trouble, or maybe shes just an individual who doesn't feel the need to do it. Anyway I tried to explain it to my mom but she is convinced that my son is over sexed and will be a permiscuous man as an adult all because he discovered he has a penis, keeping in mind this is the same woman who thinks I am permiscuous because my fiance and I are waiting until after our daughter is born before we tie the knot I'm not exactly surprised. I personally don't see how my decision to wait to get married suggests I have multiple partners (which I don't) and I don't see how my son dicovering himself will mean he becomes some sort of sex-crazed maniac as an adult. It did get me thinking though if some kids do and some kids don't is it not safe to say that it's a personal thing? I mean everyone has different levels of sexual awareness and drive as adults maybe that is something we've had since infancy only it wasn't something discussed until now. Interesting topic for sure.

Nicole - posted on 03/26/2011

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My son and his friends are told that if they want to touch their private parts they do so alone, in their room. I remember one day my son's friend stood up and annoucned, "I am going to my room to masturbate" and my son announced, "I am going to the bathroom to touch my penis". Yes kids are curious about their bodies, not just their private parts but their private parts are the only parts of their body that they cannot touch in public. If a child is being stubborn they won't always listen to the rules regarding masturbation and they will need to be gently reminded.

I do think that kids these days are more sexual then I was when I was a kid and I am not entirely sure why that is, or if this is just a lapse in my memory.

Jessi - posted on 03/26/2011

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everyone else seems to have already seen this and know what you mean by masturbation? either way im just curious because honestly id say the same thing as anyone else that its something to be done in private. thats what i tell my daughter when shes touching her vagina, that if she wants to touch it to do it in the bathroom or bedroom.. i wouldnt call it masturbation though?

Sarah - posted on 03/26/2011

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@ Jenn and Laura, about the Christian thing of it being wrong...well I am Christian...but I do believe that when a child is that young, and they do not know about sex yet...it can't be wrong! I think it's just normal exploration of our bodies at that age. Now, I do believe it's wrong when you are older, and know the difference of lust/love and sex before marriage/ marital sex.....that sort of thing. Anyway, I just thought it was odd that my friend's child was doing this and didn't seem to care 'when and where' they did it.

Jenn - posted on 03/26/2011

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BTW Laura - I take slight offence to the fact that you felt the need to mention that you were raised in a Christian home and that you were taught that masturbation was wrong and dirty. Those 2 things do NOT go hand in hand. I was also raised in a Christian home and was not taught anything of the sort - in fact quite the opposite - that it is a very normal, healthy thing to do.

Brandi - posted on 03/26/2011

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hmmm... my children are 4 and 6... pretty sure they don't masturbate. IF they do, I know nothing about it.

Jenn - posted on 03/26/2011

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I don't think it's difficult to teach kids that their bodies are something private without making them feel ashamed. My son has no issue telling about anything - like the other day when he wanted me to look at the big vein on his penis because he didn't know if it was supposed to be like that - yet he knows that playing with his penis is to be done in his bedroom or the bathroom. It doesn't mean he always remembers yet (he's 5), just like ANY "rule" you make - it takes time for the kids to get it and stick to it all the time

Iridescent - posted on 03/26/2011

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We haven't had a lot of issues with this, but around 3 years it was for a bit with stress for my oldest. Of all the kids, he'd have been one of the hardest to teach, but simple redirection was all it took. He didn't understand speech yet, so even though I'd talk to him "you can do that, but only by yourself in your room, and when you're done you can come out" and I'd physically guide him to his room. He knew it wasn't a punishment, and it really wasn't a long phase for him.

Some children do it much more than others. While it can be a sign of some emotional disturbance or sign of abuse when it's going on long term, it's generally NOT, although psych's that base off Freud and believe in him hard core will search for ways to hang the parents for abusing their child. It's normal development. If you're concerned about abuse, certainly check further! But if not, accept it for what it is.

Merry - posted on 03/26/2011

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Oh my gosh Eric found hus nose yesterday! Lol he is almost two and he just found he has nostrils that his fingers fit into! I was hoping he would never find them but sure enough yesterday there he was with half a finger up his nose! And he sure looked like he was concentrating, so serious.

Merry - posted on 03/26/2011

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I tink it would be a hard balance to teach a three year old to keep it private without insinuating it is shameful or something. Huh, nice look into the future I gues! I suppose when the diapers come off it's fair game down there

[deleted account]

Ditto Krista.

Though I'd like to know HOW to teach my 3 year old to only do it in private when he doesn't care..... He doesn't do it out of the house, but in front of me and his sisters isn't exactly private. ;)

Bonnie - posted on 03/26/2011

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I think it is normal and okay, just not out in the open wherever you feel like doing it. IMO, it seems odd that he does it when he is upset.

Stifler's - posted on 03/26/2011

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I think it's normal. I agree with everyone else though, in private. Not at daycare in front of people anywhere and everywhere. I think kids just don't get that until adults clue them in what is appropriate and what isn't.

Rosie - posted on 03/26/2011

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it's normal to masturbate that young, i did it, i just caught my 6 year old last night doing it (sigh, lol), but it needs to be taught that they can do it in private-not anywhere and everywhere.

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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When I was 16 I use to babysit for this family of 4 kids. The only girl was 7 and she use to masturbate on the floor in front of me. When I asked her what she was doing (she was being sneaky about it) she'd always reply "Nothing!"
I just told her it was ok to do that but it was a private activity and to go to her room to do it.

Merry - posted on 03/26/2011

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As a Christian I was taught that masterbation was wrong. I was told to never do it, never to allow my husband to do it, etc. I did it anyways. And I felt like a disgusting person for it.

Well I've decided that was a bad thing to teach me, I think kids shouldn't be made to feel ashamed of their bodies, I think at those young ages kids and toddlers aren't feeling sexually, they simp,y feel comforted by it. To a young child I think the only thing you have to do is teach a time and a place that is appropriate, bedroom or bathroom when you are alone



I never did it when I was upset, honestly it was more when I was bored so idk if that's a healthy way to respond to stress, but I'd hope my kids would turn to me when they are upset and not to masterbation.

Jenn - posted on 03/26/2011

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It's probably how the child deals with stress. It's perfectly normal, but not to be done just anywhere and they need to be reminded that it is a private thing to do.

Jenni - posted on 03/26/2011

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I agree that it's completely natural but it does have me concerned that he does it when he's upset. Does your friend teach him that it's a private activity to do in his room?

Erin - posted on 03/25/2011

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Masturbation in childhood is generally completely normal. But I will echo the concerns about the specifics of this situation. By 5, a child is old enough to understand that it is something to be done in private only. And the fact it is happening when he is distressed, seemingly as an attempt to self-soothe, is a little odd.

Sal - posted on 03/25/2011

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it does happen in normal healthy families, but when they are upset, maybe an issue, and they should be taught approriate places, there was a little girl at a day care centre with a freinds daughter who wouldn;t ever have a nap time without masterbating, (not just a bit of gentle fondling either), it really became an issue because all the other kids were going home asking mum and dad questions and all starting it at nap time too, when the mum was approached about it she was in complete denial and accused the centre of making up stories, the dad how ever came the the staff with real concerns and they had to investigate it further and it ended up being some sort of seperation issue so maybe your friend should look into it a bit further...

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