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When Kids Start Masturbating

How to Respond When Your Kids Start Masturbating

Many parents find it superawkward when their kids start masturbating, but it's not only normal, it's healthy. Readers often ask each other how they should respond, especially when kids masturbate in public. There's one fairly common denominator among the responses: teach your child appropriate boundaries without making them feel ashamed. The question is . . . how?

What's Normal?

According to the University of Michigan's Development and Behavior Resources program, the vast majority of kids discover their genitals and the pleasure they can bring by age 6. While discussions seem to revolve mostly around boys and girls who are in the 10 to 13 range, whatever age your child is at when she or he makes this discovery is the time to start discussing when and where this behavior is appropriate.

Carrie A.'s two kids (ages 10 and 13) have been taught that masturbation is fine in the privacy of their bedroom or bathroom, and not in other places. She has promised them she won't come in without knocking, and she always waits for them to say, "Come in." This seems like a respectful approach, and one that will likely build trust in her family. 

Door-locking is not allowed in Tisha P.'s home, but her kids, too, know that they have privacy behind the closed doors of their bedrooms. For safety reasons, she has asked her kids to never use objects (only hands), and to wash their hands when they're finished. Beyond that, they are allowed to explore their bodies freely in private.

Should You Respond Differently to Girls vs. Boys?

There does, perhaps not surprisingly, seem to be a discrepancy between parental perceptions of boys versus girls when it comes to masturbation. Many moms see it as normal for boys, but somewhat disturbing when girls do it. This is likely the result of deep cultural biases that many of us hold unconsciously. 

Lesley comments that "we seem to find boys exploring their bodies a much more acceptable practice." But she has an 11-year-old daughter and adds that she would rather know that her child is exploring her own body rather than  "letting someone else do the 'exploring'" as her daughter enters her teen years.

Eva W. suggests to moms who have discomfort around this to "do some soul searching" to try to understand why you have such difficulty accepting what doctors and psychologists say is perfectly normal behavior. In other words, trying to untangle your own hang-ups can go a long way toward helping your child grow up without shame regarding her body. Eva is walking the talk: she has begun talking about puberty and basic reproduction to her 10-year-old twins, as she believes these are related topics that parents should proactively pursue.

The common-sense takeaway here is that kids age 10-13 clearly understand that certain things are to be done at certain places and times. For example, we eat dinner in the early evening, at the table in the kitchen. We take a bath in the bathroom before we go to bed. It's not a great leap for them to understand that masturbation, like going to the toilet, is private.

How did you handle your child's discovery of masturbation?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Image Source: Shutterstock
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Charlene14833354 Charlene14833354 1 year

Ya, I am pretty sure my life would have been better never knowing that families masturbate together. That is terrible and SHAME on those parents for doing that! Yes, that judgmental, you better believe it! Sexuality is not meant to be explored with your children for crying out loud! I don't care how close you are with your kids, that is completely inappropriate and totally unnecessary. We aren't playing a game here, it is your body, it is your sexuality and that is disgusting! There are other ways to express appropriately your love to your kids, there are a world of other activities to do with your kids. Exploring sex is an activity for lovers (husband and wife ideally) not adult and child, mother and daughter, mother and son, father and daughter, father and son, or even friends with friends. Sick people, get your minds and actions under some form of control. Enough said. I hope I will be able to stop thinking about this now...

Charlene14833354 Charlene14833354 1 year

Galatians 5:19-21- The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery (excessive indulgence in sexual pleasure, I had to look that one up...), ...21...I warn you, as i did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Colossians 3:5- Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, ...
1 Peter 2:11 - Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

These scriptures are a few that talk about sexual immorality and so on. I can't seem to find the one that uses the term "self gratification", but it is late and I will have to continue looking for it well probably Monday. But I think these get the point across.

Charlene14833354 Charlene14833354 1 year

Hey all, my computer isn't letting me scroll down but I just wanted to say way to go Jackie! I love your post and boo James for thinking we are nothing but animals. Looking at it from a biological way, It seems quite obvious to me that we aren't meant to be "like animals" and just explore sexuality with whomever we want b/c of all the std's as well as negative emotional response to promiscuous intercourse. Heck some animal do mate for life anyways, and we are one of those creatures. We also have a hand up in the food chain, our brains are more advanced, if you will, and we can make choices unlike any other creature. We have to choose to be wise with our bodies or there are negative consequences to face. One man one woman in their marriage bed! Masturbation is not an appropriate use of our sexuality and our children don't need to be told their bodies are yucky, which i know is some parents concern, but their body are special and aren't a toy. We need to be responsible and respectful to others and ourselves.

Charlene14833354 Charlene14833354 1 year

The Bible talks about "self gratification" and thats is what it means. It is a sexual perversion, an alteration of something from it's original course or meaning. God created us very deliberately and He tells us that sex is for husband and wife and therefore masturbation is not how God intended us to use this gift of sexuality. The only reason it is normal is b/c people have decided that now it is acceptable to do b/c it is too hard not to just like it is too hard not to have sex before your married so now, premarital sex is normal and even encouraged. Heck I know people to encourage their kids to have sex when they are teenagers as long as they are using condoms. But back to the topic at hand, a guy told me once that he didn't think about masturbating until his older brother told him about it. Maybe we need to stop encouraging masturbation and start teaching self control. We have become too exposed to sex though even going to the store and seeing the magazine covers, the music, heck even in family movies they throw it in there (sex, and well sometimes masturbation too).

Charlene14833354 Charlene14833354 1 year

I am not going to say much, just enough that people know that not "everyone" accepts masturbation as "healthy" and "normal". All I will say is, barf! Barf on this whole article. It may be an issue, but I disagree that this is how it should be approached. Children being encouraged to masturbate. Barf!!!

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