What Do You Do if Your Young Child Masturbates?

by | Oct 25, 2018 | Parenting Young Kids | 22 comments

Body shaming your kids can happen without you even noticing it! Let's be aware of how parents treat children can influence their kids' perspectives of themselves and their sexuality.
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Catching your child touching himself or herself when they’re really young can be a difficult one for parents.

And it’s something that we often freak out about. What if they’re growing into sex addicts? I get so many questions about how to handle a young daughter (say 3-9) who is masturbating. I’ve tackled this question before, too, so what I want to do today is take a step back and look at the root of our reaction (and the possible ramifications of it).

I think that when we infer sexual motives on our kids when there aren’t any, we can inadvertently cause sexual shame.

Guilt is feeling badly about something that you’ve done. Shame is feeling badly about something that you ARE. They’re two very different things. And many of us grew up feeling shame, like there was something somehow wrong with us. We’re in the middle of the launch week for our awesome Whole Story puberty course–an online video course for either girls or boys where young Christian mentors talk about the “facts” of sex and puberty on video, and then discussion questions, lesson plans, activity ideas and more equip parents to continue those conversations.

The Whole Story is an online course to help you talk to your kids about sex, puberty and growing up in a healthy, less-awkward way.

Last year we created The Whole Story for Girls–an online video-based course that helped moms give their daughters “the talk”.

And now we’re launching the boy’s version! 

The course officially launches October 29th. But we’re doing a pre-launch sale so you can get the course at a discounted price (the girl’s course is on sale right now, too!) and a chance to help us shape what materials we create next for the course.

One of the reasons that we created The Whole Story was to help make these conversations about sex and puberty more matter of fact, less awkward, and hopefully easier to have! And this week I’ve been encouraging parents to think back to their own experiences with messages about sex and going through puberty. If you look back over some of your answers to the questions earlier this week, you’ll likely remember some specific instances when you felt ashamed about something to do with sex or your body. Often that shame has its root in how an adult reacted to something natural that we were doing. Here are some examples:
I always felt like I had bad breath and that I was stinky. I wasn’t used to showering frequently at puberty, and so a few times I DID stink. And even to this day, though I shower regularly obviously, I’m paranoid about being smelly around my wife.
Male Respondent

My mom took me aside at puberty to tell me that I had to be careful that I wasn’t a stumbling block to the men around me, including my family. I was so devastated. I wore XL T-shirts all through high school, even though I was a size 2.
Female Respondent on Instagram

When I was 6, my mom walked in when I was touching my penis. She looked horrified, and left the room. Then a few minutes later, my parents both sat down on the bed and made me sit between them, and told me that Jesus didn’t want me to do that and that I was making Jesus upset. That was meant for when I was married, and I shouldn’t be doing it now. I had no idea what they were talking about, and I didn’t know what being married had to do with it. I just remember being hot and red and I couldn’t look at my mom for several days afterwards.
Male Respondent

One of my earliest memories is my grandmother hitting my knee and giving me a disapproving stare in church whenever I swung my legs. She always told me that a girl kept her legs together!
Personal female friend

Do you see anything in common with all of those stories?

In each case, the child or preteen offended someone’s sensibilities, and were made to feel as if they were somehow bad. But in no case did any of them actually sin. In fact, in the case of the girl who didn’t want to be tempting, or the little girl who just liked to swing her legs, she did absolutely nothing at all. But they still merited disapproval. When we show our children that they are doing something wrong when there is absolutely no ill-intent on their part, it is all too easy to make those kids feel like there is something inherently bad about them. That’s how we cause shame.

So let’s take another step back and ask a bigger question:

Why were the adults getting upset?

A little girl naturally swings her legs when she’s bored (so do little boys, by the way). And a little girl, sitting in church surrounded by her family, should not be a temptation to anyone (and if she is, that’s on the sick pervert, not on the little girl). At every Christmas pageant I’ve ever been to, there’s always some 3-year-old girl who lifts up her dress. It really isn’t a Christmas pageant until at least one child tries to strip. That’s what little kids do!

But if our reaction to our children makes them feel like there is something wrong with their very natural inclinations, then we will be telling them that there is something wrong with THEM.

Why would we do this? Probably because we’ve internalized some of the messages that we were given as kids, about what it means to be proper, and how somehow being improper is the worst thing that you can do. And we think our worth is in being in control and being seen as “good”, rather than understanding that our worth is in Jesus.

I think there’s a similar dynamic in the parent who lambasted the preteen boy for being stinky. An 11-year-old is immature. He doesn’t have the discipline to know to shower everyday. He doesn’t realize he’s stinky. Yet when adults react to him like they are appalled that he is stinky, they’re usually reacting to their own insecurities and fears rather than their son’s. What if he’s rejected? What if he reflects badly on us? You should never let yourself be gross!

Why was the mom worried that her daughter would be a stumbling block to other men (even men in her family)?

There’s nothing wrong with a girl developing a woman’s body as she hits puberty. But in many Christian subcultures (as well as other cultures), we’re taught that if a guy lusts, it’s because we’ve done something wrong. And many women grow up paranoid that other females will steal their husband’s attention, or paranoid that our daughters are just plain not safe because all of these uncontrollable men are around.

Instead of laying the blame for lust where Jesus did–at the feet of men–we lay it at the feet of girls. And that’s wrong.

Here’s the key to avoiding shame: Don’t look at your child’s behaviour. Look at your child’s intent.

Did that boy mean to be stinky? No. He just didn’t realize that he was, and he hadn’t yet developed habits to help him not be stinky.

Did that girl mean to be “enticing” by swinging her legs? Of course not! She was being a toddler.

Did that girl intend to attract men’s eyes? Absolutely not!

Body shaming your kids can happen without you even noticing it! Let's be aware of how parents treat children can influence their kids' perspectives of themselves and their sexuality.

But let’s deal with the more difficult one: What about the boy who was masturbating?

Or here’s an analogous one: What about a 12-year-old girl who wants to wear a lacy bra?

Those ones are trickier because they seem to have a sexual element. He’s touching his private parts. She’s wearing lingerie. And you may feel that you have to do what that boy’s parents did–talk to him about how God intended sex to be in marriage, or talk to her about how she shouldn’t try to be alluring.

Here’s where our lesson from yesterday comes into play. Listen to your kids and see where they’re coming from. Your child may do something that, if an older teenager did it, or if you did it, would have a sexual connotation. But that does not mean it’s sexual to your child.

It’s perfectly normal for small children to touch their private parts. It feels good. It can relieve stress. It doesn’t mean they’re thinking about sex.

A girl may want to wear lace because she thinks it’s pretty, not because she’s trying to attract boys.

Don’t infer sexual motives on your kids. Just deal with their behaviour.

If you react to your children in a way that assumes they were being sexual, when they weren’t, they will not understand what all the fuss is about. And they will assume that this thing they did that had to do with their body must be very, very, very bad. But because they didn’t do it with any evil intent, the badness transfers to the body itself. It’s got nowhere else to go. So now the child thinks his (or her) body is bad or dangerous.

What’s another way of handling it? Just be matter of fact, and concentrate on teaching what’s appropriate rather than inferring bad motives.

“Johnny, we don’t touch our penis in public.” Or, if he’s doing it too often, keep him busy! It could be a boredom or self-soothing technique. Here are other posts I’ve written on the subject:

“Heather, I think that bra is pretty, too, but let’s keep that one for a treat for when you’re a little bit older! How about we go shopping and look for some other great ones?” “Lisa, remember, we keep our dress down when we’re outside the house!” (You can even make a song about it and laugh about it!). Or, “Tommy, you must have had a super active day today! I think it’s time for a shower!” Last week I sat down with Rebecca and Sheldon, who filmed the girl’s version and the boy’s version of The Whole Story, and talked about how to stop our own biases from causing inadvertent shame on our kids. So here we are talking about what to do if your daughter (or son!) masturbates:
If you want your child to grow up with a healthy view of sex, then don’t react with disapproval when they’re acting normally. Look at the heart, not at the behaviour. Want to raise your kids without sexual shame? Check out The Whole Story–both for boys and for girls. It’s on a special price during this launch period until Monday at midnight!
Little girls masturbating is one of the most common questions I get. Have you ever had to deal with this? What did you do? Let’s talk in the comments!
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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Cara

    When my small children would touch themselves (I don’t really classify it as masturbating because that implies they were seeking self gratification in a sexual way) I would tell them that that’s private and If they wanted to do that they could do it in their room. Never ever that it was bad or dirty. Or I would send them on a small errand.
    9/10 Times if I told them they could do that in their room they’d come back with a toy 5 seconds later. Distraction!!
    I did tell my girls to sit like a lady if they were sitting all splayed out. lol
    The showering thing, that’s one of the reasons I’ve had my kids bathe every day from babyhood. (That and I hate washing bedding so it lessens how often I have to wash it ) in our house bathing is something we do every day so that doesn’t change or become a big deal during puberty.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Cara, I’m with you on the bathing everyday thing! It does make puberty a lot easier.

  2. JM

    So glad this topic has come up! I have 4 daughters. My oldest began “squeezing her stuffed animals” (her words) when she was 2 or 3. I feel we have done well in not instilling shame and giving our girls a healthy understanding of our God given sexuality. We have a very open and close relationship where we can talk comfortably about any topic. Here’s the issue. My oldest daughter is now 15 and came to me concerned about the thoughts she has while masturbating. However, it’s not what you’re thinking. She says she can only get “that feeling” if she thinks about chubby, fluffy animals and is concerned that things won’t work right for her when she gets married someday. She is genuinely concerned something is wrong with her. I have only told her that it’s probably because she doesn’t have anything else to associate with that feeling yet and that I’m sure things will work out at the right time. I should mention that we homeschool and they haven’t been exposed to graphic sexual content in movies or music but definitely have a clear understanding of sex. Also , Rebecca mentioned that most kids stop masturbating by 9. What if they dont? Any insight and advice would be welcomed!

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      That’s great you can talk to your daughter about these things!
      I think what I would say is that when masturbation does become a sexual act, like it does in the teenage years, you can talk more about self-discipline and making good decisions regarding sexuality. If your daughter has inadvertently created a fetish for fluffy animals through repeated masturbation to this mental image, masturbation is only going to make the fetish stronger. Maybe talking to her about how when we experience orgasm it teaches our brain to be turned on by what we were doing/thinking about at the time, so if you keep strengthening the unhealthy fetish it makes it more difficult to re-train later.
      The other thing is that a 15-year-old is capable of sexual restraint. If she’s worried about this, maybe she can decide to stop masturbating and have other activities to do instead that take up some of that energy (join a sports team, take up jogging, etc.) But I think if she’s concerned about this, encouraging her by explaining how our brains can create these fetishes but also how she does have the ability to reverse it could be helpful.
      When it comes to the question of masturbation continuing into the adolescent years, that’s where it becomes more of a conversation about sexuality I believe. Kids touching themselves because they’re discovering their bodies and it feels good is different than a 13-year-old getting sexual release. Kids can be taught that masturbation for sexual release can be dangerous because it creates pathways in your brain that teach you to be aroused by whatever you were doing/thinking when you were masturbating. Then it can be difficult to find as much enjoyment from sex with a person. This really isn’t as much of an issue when they are in early elementary school because it’s not sexual. But once it is sexual, it needs to be talked about as such (and we do so in The Whole Story!)
      I hope this helps!

  3. Christina

    One important thing that people need to be aware of….. masturbation in children is also an early sign that the child has been abused and touched sexually by an adult. Not always, of course, but parents would do well to consider this and ask questions in a way that won’t embarrass the child, in order to determine if someone else has touched their private areas.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great point, Christina! Thank you for bringing that up.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Hey, Christina–
      That is a good point, it can be a sign of abuse, but there’s a huge caveat here:
      Most kids masturbate. Most kids have not been abused. Therefore, a lot of kids who masturbate have never been abused.
      As well, most psychologists will say that masturbation in and of itself isn’t necessarily a sign of abuse. In fact, I studied various symptoms of child abuse (including sexual abuse) throughout my psychology education and plain-old masturbation wasn’t on a single list. Compulsive masturbation or when a kid chooses to masturbate instead of playing with friends or siblings, for instance, can be more concerning. But other symptoms of sexual abuse such as bed-wetting, aggression, withdrawal, and overly compliant behaviour can be much better signs.
      The problem is that many parents see their kid masturbate and think, “Maybe she’s been abused,” but the vast majority of kids who are touching themselves are doing so because it’s developmentally normal. So don’t freak out immediately, but if masturbation is coupled with acting out specific sexual acts that are not age-appropriate for them to know or other signs of sexual abuse, it might be time to ask some questions.
      The first instinct doesn’t need to be that your kid is maturbating because of abuse. They might just be a 6-year-old who touches themselves, and that’s developmentally quite normal.

  4. Natalie

    Great article! Wow, I must need some serious regressive therapy because, as an adult, I still can’t touch any part of my privates without feeling just a little bit dirty… even if I’m just washing in the shower or inserting a tampon. (I think this is probably the root cause of why I’ve never been able to orgasm and don’t feel comfortable exploring my own body even with my husband present. I only feel comfortable if he touches me, but even then, cuz I don’t know specifically how to direct him & just tell him “oh, that feels good” or “that’s not as good as what you were doing before”, it’s taking a LONG time for us to figure out what works for me). I also can’t remember an exact instant as a child when I was told I should stop masturbating. Did I even do that? I assume I did, since most young children do. I do remember being told as a tween at church camp and various activities/classes with my Christian school that masturbation was a sin because it led to impure thoughts. But even then, I kinda disregarded all that talk cuz I was already at the point mentally where I knew/thought that was wrong and had never done anything close to that.
    As the mother of both sons and daughters under age 5, I am resolved to take a much more healthy approach to this subject than what was used on me. Not until puberty will they get the talk about why masturbation can be wrong (i.e. it all depends on your mindset and your thoughts/motives), and before then, it’ll be like you said “sweetie, we don’t touch our penis/vulva/vagina in public”.
    Also, I literally rofl at the swimming lesson girls’ fascination with the jets. 😂😂😂😂😂 That’s hysterical!!!!!! Ah, the innocence of childhood. Let’s not try to take that away from them as adults too early.

  5. Rachel

    Oh man, the pool jets in swimming lessons. 😃 I was one of those students. In fact, I think all of us (girls and boys) vied to be one of the ones in front of the jet when we were at the edge listening to the teachers. It just felt good, warm and inviting. It was a cool sensation. I have not thought about that in years. 😃😃

  6. BoundByLove ϯ † ϯ

    I wish as a kid entering puberty that someone had told me about masturbation, but that I had no exposure to anything sexually graphic. And that I hadn’t picked up any christian resources that invariably linked masturbation with something sinful and dirty. I wish, there was a way were I could have ignorantly and blissfully bypassed the resulting association. I wish someone had simply told me that it was something normal and ok, and a great way to relieve stress, or that it was a good thing or even a gift from God to be used responsibly. I honestly believe that if that was the case, I could have avoided a lot of the mental and spiritual struggles I faced. I want to break the myth that masturbation is a direct gateway to porn or something. Misinformation and lack of discussion about good ethical choices with our eyes and hearts/minds is a gateway drug. And teaching our kids not to obsess over any of the above. Only within the last 7 or so years have I been able to shrug off the needless emotionally and spiritually crippling guilt of masturbation, and being able to enjoy it. As a recovering porn addict, and unmarried virgin, I’m going to say that separating the conditioned mental association of porn and masturbation was the best thing to happen to me. In moments of temptation, masturbation was actually the best way to remove it. Once those hormones equalized, I had no desire to look at anything inappropriate. Do I still struggle with temptations? Yes. But I don’t think masturbation itself causes impure thoughts any more than sex causes pure ones.

  7. Lydia purple

    I think we live in a shame culture. It is much easier to shame a child for making us uncomfortable then looking at ourselves and figure out why we feel uncomfortable about it. It is so important to not make a big deal out of normal behavior, making a fuss only will put a wrong focus on something that otherwise would just pass.
    No need to shame toddlers for enjoying themselves.
    No need to assign sexual motives to two year old boys wearing dresses or high heels for play, no need to shame girls for playing with ‘boy’ toys.
    My boys both loved walking around in heels because 1. They were the easiest to slip your feet in and they make a fun noise. They both did/do this at an age were they not even fully aware of the difference between male/ female. Yet I have heard a lot of comments from relatives who are afraid that somehow this will make them into homosexuals. 🤦🏽‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️
    Also colors… there are no boy or girl colors. Wearing pink for a boy is not a sin. Wearing boy clothes for a girl is not a sin either. Often they are more comfortable without the ruffle fuss.
    When we sexualize our kids we do it because we are messed up, not because they are doing something wrong.
    But as I said above it’s easier to shame a kid then to face our own demons. Heaven forbid WE would have to change for their sake…
    (this by the way is true for society in general, if our kids don’t fit in they are treated as if something wrong with them, instead of looking if maybe the system is broken – it’s easier to prescribe Ritalin then to change a school system…)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely, Lydia! When we sexualize our kids, it’s often because we are messed up.
      We’re the ones really nervous about sex, or worried about what others think, or unsure of what to make of our own drives. And then we project all of that onto them.
      That’s why it’s so important to deal with a lot of our own stuff first. Our kids don’t deserve all of this put on them.
      When I go back and read people’s comments on the post I wrote about masturbation, and they say that masturbation when you’re 5 is a sin–well, I just get really frustrated and sad. Can they not see that this is not sexual at all? Sheesh.

    • Phil

      Hi Lydia – I have a friend from Cote D’iovoire and we talk about cultural differences between our countries. He speaks in the same concept of changing the environment rather than trying to change the kid or modify the existing environment with medication. I agree with you but as you say the system is broken. It is so difficult to make an environment change. Home schooling takes the right type of parent and parental situation. In addition, It is really difficult (not impossible) but very difficult to change the environment for the kid. Your pink color discussion reminded me of when my oldest was still in kindergarten. He wanted pink flip flops at the store. So my wife bought them for him. I didn’t have so much an issue with it however, my son has always been a target. He has ADHD (which we didn’t know at the time) but that factor makes him different and kids don’t know what it is but they know somethings is off. So he has always been a target. As I digress, my wife was so upset that my son was being targeted even in kindergarten. It had nothing to do with the shoes per se. However, my reaction was this: Well, maybe you should start with giving him the “correct” color shoes. I am not saying this reaction is right. That is the cultural reaction. We are trained to respond this way. Very sad. We are just talking about pink shoes here. We didn’t even get to the puberty thing yet in this discussion. Yes the system is broken. I am going to go with Billy Joel Here – We didn’t start the fire. Geesh.

      • Lydia purple

        Phil, i understand. I think there is still a way forward even if you don’t have an option to opt out of the system. Make sure you are connected with your kids, strengthen your family bond as much as possible, limit mainstream peer culture as much as possible (and with that goes don’t let your kids become smartphone zombies who are sucked into social media… look up Collin kartchner for all the info on how bad social media is not for teen mental health) also very important love your kids for who they are and acknowledge to them that you understand that some of what they experience sucks and you wish you could fix it but can’t. Make it a point to them that they don’t fit in because the system is broken and that God made them special for a reason. The school system is broken, not your kid. Tell them that. Make your and God’s unconditional love louder than the other voices. Give them tools to move forward, be their strongest advocate. If you need encouragement for them these are some people who embraced their struggle and let God use their disadvantage for His glory:
        1. Michael Jr. -comedian with dyslexia (he talks about how his struggle actually turned into an asset for what he is doing – he has a ted talk and other videos on YouTube)
        2. The book “Different”by Sally and Nathan Clarkson -it’s written by mother/son telling both sides of the mom who loved her outside the box kid (he struggled with ADD and OCD I think)
        3. Your own story how God turned your struggle into helping others
        4. Nick Vujicic
        Also empathy empathy empathy. Empathize with your kid when other’s laugh about him, don’t blame him for choosing shoes he likes. Let him know that actually the kids laughing are the ones having a problem… I would support his own style but also let him know that it’s ok if he wants to get different shoes. Also there will always be somebody who doesn’t like something about us. We all need to learn to choose that it’s more important to be true to ourselves than to try earn the likes of others….
        In short: be a Rebell parent against the broken system. Fitting into a distorted mold is nothing to desire, so don’t try to make it work. It’s a hard path but you’ll raise a fighter 😉

        • Phil

          Lydia – I wish I could print this out and stick it on my four head- thanks for that

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Love this, Lydia! I should have you write a post for me. 🙂 Or just turn this into one. Or I could just create a post, “Top 10 Lydia Comments”. (That’s actually not a bad idea!)

          • Lydia purple

            Aw thanks, that is encouraging.

  8. Marlene

    So glad to see this article! So as a child, I masturbated when I was maybe 5, and got shamed for it. I am pretty sure I wasn’t doing it sexually, but I got in major trouble for it. Also, in response to Christina’s point about it being a sign of sex abuse, I don’t agree. I wasn’t ever sexually abused; but one time when I was 8 a teenage boy put his finger in my vagina at a pool; I was sexually molested there. But I masturbated earlier. From both cases, I felt shamed for the things Shelia is pointing out. I wasn’t sinning at 5, and I wasn’t sinning at 8. But I felt an immense amount of shame for both. One other thing I’d like to say, as well; I had teenage boys shame me for the shirts I wore in our church high school youth group. One told me not to lift my arms up too high, because he could see my bra in the arm hole. Again, shame. Again, I wasn’t sinning with my T-shirt arm holes. I think I was maybe 12 then. But, from all of that, and especially articles and Shelia’s books, I have been learning and growing from these experiences. I have seen my kids both masturbate, and have a different thinking on that now. I only say don’t do that in front of company. I am careful to teach my son, control your eyes, instead of laying the blame on women. I am careful to not lay shame on either of them for things that aren’t actual sin. This is soooo important! Not many Christian circles actually point out or even talk about these things at all. I just love that Shelia and her girls talk about everything, even hard stuff like this. Thanks!!!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, thank you, Marlene! Your comment made my day.

  9. Liz

    My youngest daughter had masturbated since she was a baby sitting in her high chair. She’d “wiggle” against the bar keeping her from falling out. She’d do it in the car, and she’d do it when falling asleep at night. I always just let it go but as I realized that she couldn’t fall asleep without doing it at age 4, I started bribing her to stop. Not because I feel like it’s wrong (I don’t…she’s 4 and it feels good!) but because I wanted to stop the habit of not being able to fall asleep without release and I wanted to stop it while she’s young and likely won’t remember it. I bribed her with a piece of candy, a spoonful of Nutella, a cookie, whatever, the next morning. And it worked. It took her a lot of nights of lying there for a longer time trying to fall asleep but eventually she stopped “wiggling” and stopped asking for a treat in the morning. I don’t remember what I told her about why I wanted her to stop, maybe that it bothered her sisters and that she got all sweaty, or I just wanted to see if she could fall asleep without doing it. Nothing shameful like “you shouldn’t be doing that,” but something more along the lines of “let’s see if you can fall asleep without doing it and getting all sweaty.”
    Like I said before, I wanted her to stop before it was a habit that she couldn’t break and before she was old enough to feel shamed about it. Now I don’t have to worry about her spending the night with grandparents and them telling her she shouldn’t do that or shaming me for letting it go on. I don’t have to listen to her sisters complain when the bunk bed shakes. But mostly I’m just glad that the habit is broken, she can fall asleep without doing it, and I don’t have to worry about others shaming her.

  10. Blessed Wife

    We’ve had a time with my 2yo son fingering his parts all the time!😂 He’s even taken his diaper off in public to facilitate it. Even when he keeps the diaper on, he sometimes leaves it pointed in a direction that directs his pee outside the diaper rather than in it. My focus has been on teaching him to confine his manhandling to his bedroom or bathroom, but I don’t tell him not to because one of the useful things it does is help him gradually retract his foreskin. He loves to give himself erections and push his foreskin back as far as he can (he can’t fully retract yet), like he’s playing peek-a-boo with himself.
    I’m actually kind of concerned now about my 4yo son, who rarely messed with himself. I realized the other day that I’ve never seen him retract himself and I actually don’t know that he can, which could be bad.😶 I tried asking him, but I don’t think he had any idea what I was talking about.
    I might add that my husband does not share my blasé attitude about the baby’s self-handling; he finds it upsetting and embarrassing.
    I’d be interested in Keith’s opinion on all this!

  11. Wanting to be better!

    To be honest this is the subject that makes me feel the most stressed! As a kid I masturbated a lot, but I was also sexually abused at a young age, I honestly can’t remember the age where it became sexual but I’m very ashamed to say a lot of my childhood was spent trying to find a place hidden where I could make myself feel good. It was always hidden though, even if in the same room as my parents. I have always, up till now, associated that with the sexual abuse that went on for years, as that was when I discovered the feeling. So I have lived with so much guilt for so many years.
    Fast forward a few decades and now I have two girls and one boy who I desperately want to protect from what my life was. I know I can’t do this by responding in fear, although it rears it’s ugly head quite frequently in anger.
    I have already adapted a lot of healthy things already mentioned; always using the correct name for body parts and normalising everything from my period to body hair, odour, self care etc and me and my husband always try be open and approachable to questions and tailor them to their age groups 10, 7, and almost 2. But we also have strict rules like no sleep overs at other peoples houses, and what is appropriate touch etc.
    Masturbation still gets to me though. And the thought of them touching or being touched in their private areas still gets to me, deeply. Reading and listening to this has made me realise I need to seek God for more healing on it.
    I guess I’m getting to a question really, so my middle child has occasionally rubbed her vagina on chairs etc, and my usual response is to say, please don’t rub your vagina on the chair, but quite often it comes with a look (from me) of disapproval and I honestly don’t mean to do but it just comes out… how can I remedy this… what if I have already burned that bridge and made her feel shame? She is definitely a few years away from these discussions (I’m about to go through them with my oldest daughter). What can I do if she has already decided to now hide anything like this from me… the exact opposite of what I wanted to do!
    Argh man I really feel the twist in my belly on this one! Guilt is what I look back on my puberty as being, that’s probably the biggest thing I struggle with! I really desperately want to protect them from that! Such a heavy weight to bare as a child.


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