"Need advice. 31/2 year old girl is rubing on her privates. Is this normal?"

Crystal - posted on 01/02/2010 ( 163 moms have responded )

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Our daughter is only 31/2 years old. We catch her rubing her privates on her pillow and bear. I'm really not sure what to do. I feel like a three year old shouldn't be doing that. We ask her why she does that and she tells us it tickles. Does anyone have any advice?

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Valerie - posted on 01/07/2010

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I am a child psychology major as well and while yes Sigmund Freud did address this issue I would hardly consider his opinion fact. There are many things he presented to the medical community that were laughed at then and to this day were never taken seriously. His theories are only that, theories and not fact. He was also a very radical Athiest so I highly doubt recommending his readings to any Christian would make them think his theories were something to heed. Not the best argument.

Tricia - posted on 01/07/2010

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I have to agree with the ladies above. I've been studying early childhood development for the past couple of years, and this is quite normal.

DORICE - posted on 01/07/2010

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Hi mom, Don't worry about it, she will stop doing it pretty soon. It's just a stage. Just talk to her by telling her don't do that because she doesn't want to get any booboos down there. Trust me , she will listen to you. Before you go any further, ask her if she 's itching down there because you never know. We as adult , when we have a little itch down there, it sure feels good when we scratch it. Just relax, i believe that she's not masturbating. Ok. God Bless.

Bronwyn - posted on 01/07/2010

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Quoting Bridgett:

I think you should read up on Sigmund Freuds theory



I totally agree with you Bridgett. I have just finishes 1sy year Psych and his theory explains it as a normal developmental stage. Nothing at all to be concerned about.

Jolene - posted on 01/07/2010

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Quoting Jill:

It looks like you have probably gotten your question answered here, but I'd like to add my input, if I may. I don't know if you and your husband are religious or not, but this is how we've handled this situation in our home. All 5 of our kids, both boys and girls, explored their bodies in full, which is completely normal. As they've gotten older, if we've noticed them touching themselves in the private areas, we have explained to them that our Heavenly Father has given us these good feelings which come from touching themselves in these areas, and it's a good thing; it was planted there for a specific purpose to be used at a specific time between a husband and wife. But our bodies are sacred and He doesn't want us to touch ourselves in these areas. We don't shame them or tell them they are bad for doing this. I know this is not the popular belief regarding human sexuality, but I wanted you to know there are other options, if you choose to teach your daughter differently.


I agree!  There are other options.  Very nicely said.

Kasie - posted on 01/07/2010

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I think it's best to let her know that is something that should happen in private, but not in a way that makes her feel ashamed. It is completely normal and if you make a big deal of it, it will become a big deal.

Jolene - posted on 01/07/2010

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Quoting Jill:

It looks like you have probably gotten your question answered here, but I'd like to add my input, if I may. I don't know if you and your husband are religious or not, but this is how we've handled this situation in our home. All 5 of our kids, both boys and girls, explored their bodies in full, which is completely normal. As they've gotten older, if we've noticed them touching themselves in the private areas, we have explained to them that our Heavenly Father has given us these good feelings which come from touching themselves in these areas, and it's a good thing; it was planted there for a specific purpose to be used at a specific time between a husband and wife. But our bodies are sacred and He doesn't want us to touch ourselves in these areas. We don't shame them or tell them they are bad for doing this. I know this is not the popular belief regarding human sexuality, but I wanted you to know there are other options, if you choose to teach your daughter differently.


I agree!  There are other options.  Very nicely said.

Bridgett - posted on 01/07/2010

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Well I am a Psychology major and I will be graduating this summer w/ my Bachelors. I know it seems weird but this absolutely normal because at this age they are exlporing there genital area. They touch it and wonder what it is and when they do touch it it gives them a tickling feeling of course. You don't want to make a huge deal out of it because then she will think something is wrong w/ it but I would encourage her not to do it by simply saying it's not appropriate. I think as a mother we all no how to say no w/ out making it seem like a dont. It's just a phase. My almost two year old touches his self and pulls on his penis and then laughs. So I wouldnt worry or listen to people who obvisouly dont know much about children. @ Christina

[deleted account]

You know, I have to say that the minute I read Christina's post I had her flagged as a conservative Christian, even before I scrolled down and read the post where she came out and said it herself. There's just an air about people like her that gives it away... fearfulness and anger about things she doesn't understand. When you're living by rules that were written thousands of years ago, you're going to get a little uncomfortable with the modern world.

I'm just wondering why God would give us these bodies with these areas that feel good to be touched (no matter what age you are) and expect us not to touch them! Does God really expect a 3 year old to exercise such self control? Are they going to be "punished" for this behavior? I agree completely that hers is a very uneducated post... but we have to remember that most modern day "conservative Christians" shun the science community and any type of new research or development or understanding is "evil" and can't be trusted, and therefore are NOT educated because its evil.

Anywho... this is normal behavior, and its up to the parent to help the child know "good touch, bad touch" to protect them from perverts. And it is psychologically damaging to shame a child into thinking that this is dirty or disgusting behavior. Any educated and qualified pediatrician or child psychologist will tell you this.

?? - posted on 01/07/2010

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Quoting Heather:



lovely you cant have an opinion on here anymore without getting attacked. on that note. i would feel extremely uncomfortable and will when I experience my son doing stuff of that matter. and if i dont know how to handle i will seek advice from a proffessional in this field. not a bunch of judgemental women!




You saying that other people are judgemental for posting their opinions about an extremely unpopular approach to a subject that can have a very negative affect on a child in the long term is awfully pointless. You're being just as judgemental.



The people who were countering what Christina was saying, are trying to be helpful, not judgemental. Christina can take whatever approach she wants, in the end, it is a widely unsupported approach to this subject.



The fact that you are uncomfortable with the subject and that you have said that it will make you extremely uncomfortable should be a cause of concern to you. I hope that you, and anyone else who is extremely uncomfortable with this particular topic, will take the time to educate yourself now, before it comes time for you to be confronted with this very natural situation. The more information you (in general - not any particular person here) have, the better prepared you will be and the more comfortable you will be with the situation.

Diedra - posted on 01/07/2010

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Wow I bet you didn't know this would set off such a fire storm LOL...well I have to agree with the majority that it is perfectly normal...but check her genitals just to make sure she doesn't have a rash or has developed an allergy to the detergent you are using or there is no other problem the post about molestation is also something to consider but you would start to notice other behavior changes as well and we hope that is not the case otherwise...follow the advice of others let her know it's a private thing and don't make her feel bad...we already have enough self esteem issues as women let's try to break the cycle on some of them.

Kelly - posted on 01/07/2010

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Well I have three boys and they never seem to leave "it" alone : ) However with a little girl just make sure you rule out a yeast infection. My niece got them all the time at that age and perhaps she is itching.

[deleted account]

Nowhere at all in the Old or New Testaments is there an injunction to teach little children that getting pleasure from the normal function of their bodies is "inappropriate"! Sonica, Christina and any other so-called Christians -- where do you claim your teachings came from, except from other misguided humans?

Dawn - posted on 01/07/2010

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My daughter in 3 years 4 1/2 months and does similar things. She also says it tickles. My husband was appauled so I asked the doctor her thoughts. And she said it is perfectly normal boys do it and so do girls. It's just a stage she is going through. My 9 month old just realized her hands can reach there when her diaper is off. So I wouldn't worry.

Rebecca - posted on 01/07/2010

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I have a 4 yr old she was doin the same and had the same answer. We realized she was getting the notion from movies we were watching and seeing her 18 yr old brother and his girlfriend play wrestle and foreplay while they didn't know she was watching. Another is she has been awakened by someone fondling her not smethingyou want to think about but definitely a possiblitity. We foundthat it was the one she always ran to and was verysubmissive to this person always over doing it to please this person in an extreme obvious way. But it is a time that theyare discovering their bodyparts that they haven't noticed before which is normal.

Micheline - posted on 01/07/2010

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First you need to have a talk non-defense to talk about touching herself to make sure that she did not pick the habit from a adult or older child. Non -defense, is something "like I see you that you are touching yourself, do you know why?? or something along that line. Second, it mostly like a stage, however you should let her know that it is okay, but that touching your private should be done in "private" and that nobody else should be touching her, etc...try not to make a big production about the subject treat like ensuring she washes her hand before she eat....make part of her natural growth.

Maha - posted on 01/07/2010

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Please check the following :
www.dcurbanmom.com › ... › General Parenting Discussion
parents.berkeley.edu/advice/worries/masturbating.html - -

Rosemary - posted on 01/07/2010

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it's pretty normal actually. this is around the age they discover themselves. i was concerened with my daughter to and i sought medical info. so do not worry.

Rahab W - posted on 01/07/2010

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i think the best thing to do is avoid long bath tub. gals private parts are very sensitive to soap and when we let them stay for long they feel abit itchy and tends to rub them. just dont let her stay for long ion a bath tub and dry her well.

Kelly - posted on 01/07/2010

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My son was touching himself at two. We ignored it, and while he still seems to be preoccupied with his privates when he is in the bath, it is clear that it is simply curiosity about his body. In your daughter's case, she has discovered a strange sensation, and will likely get bored of it. DO NOT CALL EXCESSIVE ATTENTION TO THIS. You will scar her and possibly make it a clear focus for her...in other words, it will become more of an issue that it otherwise would not have. I think we live in a society that has in the past made children - and even adults for that matter - feel ashamed of exploring our bodies. It is a natural thing. Don't worry. And of paramount concern, DON'T MAKE HER FEEL BAD ABOUT IT.

Ty - posted on 01/07/2010

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Krista, she wasn't talking about you. She was talking about the people who directly quoted and then attacked with no constructive basis other than 'this is the internets and I deem you are bad, so I shall stick my tongue out at you nananananana you bad mommy you'. You made a joke about her post once but I saw it as the most playful way you could make light of the situation and I respect what you have said as being non-combative and informative.

Krista - posted on 01/07/2010

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Quoting Heather:

lovely you cant have an opinion on here anymore without getting attacked. on that note. i would feel extremely uncomfortable and will when I experience my son doing stuff of that matter. and if i dont know how to handle i will seek advice from a proffessional in this field. not a bunch of judgemental women!


And a professional in the field will tell you pretty much the exact same thing. Three-quarters of the stuff on my post was quoted almost verbatim from the textbook, (which was written by three clinical psychologists who specialize in this stuff), from a Human Sexuality class I took. 



Everybody has a right to their opinion, but that doesn't make every opinion right. 



It would be like going to a public forum and declaring that you believe that illnesses are caused by demons. You have a right to your opinion, but when the entire medical community and most of society disagrees with you, don't expect people to blow smoke up your nether regions and say, "Well that's an interesting opinion, and I'm glad you shared it!"





I also want to add that Jill's response is excellent. If your faith leads you to believe that masturbation is wrong, and if you really just can't let it go, then her approach is an excellent one -- waiting until the child is old enough to understand, and talking to him or her about it, but not shaming them or being angry about it. Punishing a toddler for something that comes so naturally is counterproductive and could have effects on their later attitudes towards sex.

[deleted account]

Amy. There is a day/night difference between a Christian and a Churchian. Christians serve the Almighty God with their whole hearts and have the annoinnting of the Holy Spirit and I know that 3 year olds should not "explore" in such a way. Seek wisdom from the Master , ...... mommies

Danielle - posted on 01/06/2010

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I urge you to read up on Freud's Psychosexual Theory. I read about it in Developmental Psychology in college. You might find it interesting.

Danielle - posted on 01/06/2010

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It's normal for little boys to play with their junk so I think it's normal for little girls to explore as well.

[deleted account]

It looks like you have probably gotten your question answered here, but I'd like to add my input, if I may. I don't know if you and your husband are religious or not, but this is how we've handled this situation in our home. All 5 of our kids, both boys and girls, explored their bodies in full, which is completely normal. As they've gotten older, if we've noticed them touching themselves in the private areas, we have explained to them that our Heavenly Father has given us these good feelings which come from touching themselves in these areas, and it's a good thing; it was planted there for a specific purpose to be used at a specific time between a husband and wife. But our bodies are sacred and He doesn't want us to touch ourselves in these areas. We don't shame them or tell them they are bad for doing this. I know this is not the popular belief regarding human sexuality, but I wanted you to know there are other options, if you choose to teach your daughter differently.

Heather - posted on 01/06/2010

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lovely you cant have an opinion on here anymore without getting attacked. on that note. i would feel extremely uncomfortable and will when I experience my son doing stuff of that matter. and if i dont know how to handle i will seek advice from a proffessional in this field. not a bunch of judgemental women!

Ty - posted on 01/06/2010

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If it makes you uncomfortable then tell her to stop, or to only do it when she's alone.
People, Christina P has her opinions on the matter, she will handle her children the way she sees fit. Crystal asked for a suggestion, and Christina answered it. Crystal, just like the rest of you, will go with the advice she feels is right. Christina gave another opinion and way of handling it. I must say, while I don't agree with her method, I don't think it'll do any lasting damage to her or her kids. Be mature, and leave her alone, please.

Valerie - posted on 01/06/2010

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Quoting Christina:

 I just think you would have more of an understanding where I was coming from if you were a Christian and not just your family, since it's hard to see how someone's beliefs play a role in their lives if you don't believe the same way.



I am a Christian and was raised in a Christian home.  This still does not help me in understanding your P.O.V.  I would love to know what verse in the bible addresses this issue?

Elana - posted on 01/06/2010

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my son does this same thing and he has been doing it since he was 2 and he used to hump the toilet bowl, peoples legs, the bed, stuffed animals and as he got older he has wet ones in the morning. i took him to the doctor because i thought something just cant be right and the doc told us his hormones are out growing his age, and in the long run he will be fine i just try to tell him to stop when he does this i dont yell at him or anything and he is usually ok, i cant let him sleep with me any more because he will try to hump my leg or anything while he is laying with me and my husband so i would not let anyone tell me my son is mastubating he doesent even know what he is doing, but im sure it fills good to him, he is 6 now and just starting to stop this behavior so i can only hope it will get better....

Ellen - posted on 01/06/2010

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Quoting Christina:

I'm sorry.. I seem to be the only one that thinks this way so far, but there is a difference between exploring and getting enjoyment out of touching yourself. It seems to me that your daughter enjoys it, and whether you like it or not, your daughter is committing masturbatory acts. They don't get "enjoyment" out of exploring.. But when she is getting enjoyment out of it, saying it tickles and whatnot, I would definitely consider that masturbation. Remember, she doesn't have to know what the words MEANS in order to commit the act..


Christina,  Sadly, you are way off base here.  This behavior is normal for children at this age, and it is not something sexual to them.  They don't know what 'sex' is at this age, nor could they comprehend what being sexual means.  Therefore it is not 'masturbating'.  It is something that feels good to them and that is all.  When you make it a 'bad thing' it will only make the child feel that they are a 'bad child', and that my dear, is far more damaging to a child than anything.


 

Lacy - posted on 01/06/2010

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I would definitely say it is normal at this age, but if she says it tickles then i think you need to see if she had a yeast infection or could have a possible Urinary tract infection. We went through this with our now 4 yr old . It started when she was 2 & we have had lots of trouble with UTI's & they can be serious. We found out our daughter has to have surgery bc of chronic UTI's. It is worth having her urine checked to see if it is a yeast infection or UTI with for most cases is an easy fix with an antibiotic...hope this helps

Susan - posted on 01/06/2010

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I have heard this is very normal...she just likes the feeling and it is very natural. Nothing is wrong with her. There was actually an episode on Dr Phil about that.

[deleted account]

My little one just turned 4 and we went through the same thing, except she would use a stair! :) We did figure out that she only did it when she had to potty (number 2). Once we figured it out, anytime we caught her at it, we would ask if she had to potty. Either way we would explain very gently, that we don't do that. We never yelled or acted mortified, we just addressed it very matter of fact and left it alone. I hope that helps. Remember, all kids go through it and she will out grow it. Good luck!

Jennifer - posted on 01/06/2010

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It's totally normal... I taught preschool! You just tell her that it's ok to do that, but we do that in our bathroom or bedroom in private leave it at that.

Charlie - posted on 01/06/2010

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Oh and by the way in response to Christina a four year old is most definitely capable of getting enjoyment from touching themselves , its not wrong its natural , normal and instinctual .

Betty - posted on 01/06/2010

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Tickling is a close kin to itching. Itching could be due to a yeast infection. Check her panties to see if there is the any of the white stuff.

Charlie - posted on 01/06/2010

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I agree there is nothing wrong with exploring ones body in fact its healthy and quite normal .

What is NOT normal and definitely NOT healthy is teaching a child its wrong this can cause many complex issues with their sexuality as an adult .

First of all, toddlers touching themselves is absolutely normal, whether they are naked or not. In fact, research has shown that babies begin such touching while still in the womb. It would actually be odd if your daughter wasn’t exploring her whole body at this age. But it sounds like your real question is how to teach a two-year-old that while touching herself is normal and healthy, she should do so in private.

Privacy is a difficult concept for any toddler to comprehend, and you should not expect them to understand it until they are between four and six years old. But there are things you can start doing now to ensure that your daughter will begin to grasp the concept.

If you are in a public place like a bookstore, park, or grocery store, and your daughter begins to touch her genitals, you should calmly tell her, “That is something we only do at home.” Think of it as a lesson in manners. Just as we teach our children that they should not pick their noses, floss their teeth or go to the bathroom in public, we can also teach them that they should not touch their genitals in public. You can also tell her that such touching is private, even though she probably won’t fully understand the term until later.

If your daughter is touching herself only when she is naked and at home, it would be fruitless to teach her to only do so in her bedroom because she is too young to understand this. In this case, just remind yourself that this is normal, healthy behavior, and try to be more comfortable with and accepting of her touching.

As your daughter gets older (four to six) you can start to say, “Honey, that is something we do in the privacy of our bedrooms.” And be prepared for her to ask why. At this point you can compare it to using the restroom — “It’s just one of those things we do in private.” You may even say, “Mommy doesn’t touch herself in the living room either.” This is another way to normalize masturbation for your daughter as well.

Finally, remember that discussions with your daughter should be ongoing — don’t expect her to fully grasp the concept of privacy immediately. You will need to remind her repeatedly. Never slap your daughter’s hands for touching herself. This will send a very strong negative message to her about her body, and may negatively impact her sexuality well into adulthood. Masturbation is normal and healthy for toddlers and people of all ages, but it will take time for younger children to remember to only do so in the privacy of their bedrooms. Be patient, expect some embarrassing moments (which I find often make great party conversations with our adult friends) and you will do just fine.

Jeanne - posted on 01/06/2010

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This is the beginning of sex education with children. If you begin now and keep the door of communication open she will always come to you for information and you can teach her what you want her to know.

I think that self pleasuring is normal and healthy. I would tell her that most people do that in private and ask her to do it in her room.

If your intuition suggests that anything has happened to her, I would ask her if anyone else has 'tickled' her.

Krista - posted on 01/06/2010

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Quoting Christina:

I'm sorry.. I seem to be the only one that thinks this way so far, but there is a difference between exploring and getting enjoyment out of touching yourself. It seems to me that your daughter enjoys it, and whether you like it or not, your daughter is committing masturbatory acts. No 2, 3, 4+ year old child should be masturbating! I would simply tell her that it's inappropriate to rub herself with anything. She will figure it out when she's older what to do if she wants to act out on it and not actually have sex, but no young child should be doing this. I have to ask though, where did she get it?? Did she walk in on you two or catch something on TV that was not age-appropriate material? If that's the case, I would simply lock your door.. If she needs something, she's old enough that she can knock and ask. Or if it was the TV and you don't want her seeing things like that, lock out those programs and you and your husband can hold the pass code to unlock it if that's your prerogative. Like I said, exploring is one thing.. They don't get "enjoyment" out of exploring.. But when she is getting enjoyment out of it, saying it tickles and whatnot, I would definitely consider that masturbation. Remember, she doesn't have to know what the words MEANS in order to commit the act..


You make it sound so very serious. 



"The defendant is charged with two counts of committing masturbatory acts. How do you plead?"



"Me want drink now! Mama!" 

Kiala - posted on 01/06/2010

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yeah i think it is normal my daughter is 13 mos. & she does it sometimes, & its actually the reason her daddy will not change a diaper. but i did read somewhere that they are curious about their body they find new things all the time, & when they come across that part of their bodies in the bath or during a diaper change, they feel a sensation (like we all do) & they like it (girls & boys) they find it soothing or comforting, they dont know its a sexual thing yet. I even know someone whos son lays on they floor & rolls on a ball to put himself to sleep. (infront of everyone) he doesnt know thats not right.

Tamara - posted on 01/06/2010

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This is perfectly normal. Just encourage her to do it in the privacy of her room.

Kimberly - posted on 01/06/2010

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that is normal. went thru it with all my girls and my step daughter plus many of my friends with daughters dealt with the same thing.

The most important thing to remember is to not scold or repermand her..it is not a bad thing and should not be treated as so. like I said it is normal.

have a talk with her about privacy and only doing that in the privacy of her own room. if you catch her in front of tv or in other public areas of home or actually out somewhere else just kindly remind her that is a private thing and she needs to go on to her room or wait til she is at home in her room.

any yelling or punishment or actions that make it come across as bad will casue her sexual problems as she gets older. like inability, or guilt, or ridicule, low self esteem.

so play it cool and know it is normal growing for our daughters as embaressing as it can be at times , do not let your inhabitions or others' ridicule your way of handeling it. you want a healthy well rounded young woman with as few psychological problems as possible when she grows up.

Katie - posted on 01/06/2010

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To Christina- You are totally over reacting, if you do this with your children they'll grow up feeling ashamed and insecure. It's totally normal behavior-READ UP! Making a big deal up is the worst you can do. Tell them their private areas are private if it still "tickles" go to her room. Distract her and that will be the end of it. Now if it then happens constantly, you might have to seek advice. TOTALLY NORMAL!

Katie - posted on 01/06/2010

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My son did that at that age in front of the tv. i told him he should go to his room. if he wanted to explore. he never did it again. t think its normal, they are discovering thier bodies. unless of course there is any reason u might worry about someone touching her.

[deleted account]

I'd be concerned that she may be being molested, however, it could be just that it tickles; Tell her it is not appropriate to do this outside of her bedroom, but more concerning is who does she have male contact with? Check with the police dept, they have dolls that they can use to get to the bottom of her activity if sexual molestation is a possibility with male contacts. Best wishes. My daughter was molested when she was 2.

Michelle - posted on 01/06/2010

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It is perfectly natural and normal, at any age. Absolutely never tell her it's bad, or she's bad for doing that! Just remind her this is something to be done by herself in her bedroom. Let her know it is ok, but to be gentle with herself and to be private about it.

Krista - posted on 01/06/2010

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Masturbation is actually very normal and typical for infants and young children and tends to start between 6 and 12 months. It's a natural result of a child becoming more tactile, discovering their body parts and realizing that one body part in particular feels quite delightful when touched.

They usually do so in the way you describe -- soft bedding and stuffed toys. It doesn't sound like you freaked out on her about it, which is good. The last thing you want to do is make her feel ashamed of it. Just explain that it is something that is done in private.

Of course, this is also an excellent opportunity to teach her that nobody else is allowed to touch that area without permission, and that the only people who should be asking permission are mommy, daddy and a doctor, and that is only to clean her, or if she needs to be examined down there for a problem. (Obviously you'll want to gear the language towards her own personal maturity level.)

The key is to not make her ashamed. There seems to be this societal understanding that boys whack off, but the very thought of a girl doing that fills people with horror and it's become a real taboo --- emblematic of our society's insistence that "nice girls" aren't sexual. Sexy (i.e. passive)? Yes. Sexual (i.e. assertive)? God, no.

And Christina, the girl didn't "get it" from anywhere. As I mentioned, infants masturbate. It's just something they discover on their own.

?? - posted on 01/06/2010

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There is a time, a place and an age.



The time is when she discovers it, the place is in private and the age is whatever age a child happens to discover their privates.



there is a difference between exploring and getting enjoyment out of touching yourself.



Yea there is, and when you explore, you find things that you get enjoyment out of it. That was a completely pointless statement.





They don't get "enjoyment" out of exploring.. But when she is getting enjoyment out of it, saying it tickles and whatnot



Children get enjoyment out of the simplest things - that doesn't mean it's sexual. To her, it's nothing different than a hug or softly brushing a finger across a cheek or a feather across your skin.







It only becomes sexual when she is old enough to understand what SEXUAL pleasure is. For now, all she knows, and cares about is the fact that 'it tickles'. And that's perfectly fine. Explain to her, which I'm sure you have, that it is her private area that is ticklish so she shouldn't tickle herself there unless she's in private.







Children don't have the capacity to know the difference between an innocent touch and a sexual touch. As long as your daughter knows that ONLY SHE CAN 'tickle' her there, that is all that matters right now.

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