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Relax Parents, Masturbation Is a Normal Aspect of Childhood

05/20/2015 08:58 EDT | Updated 05/20/2016 05:59 EDT
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May Is Masturbation Month.

There I said it. Shocking as the word and act are to many, masturbation is a normal aspect of childhood sexuality that many parents find difficult to talk about. Part of this is the difficulty in acknowledging that kids are sexual beings. Of course little kids are not thinking about having sex, but that doesn't mean they don't know that their genitalia is sensitive and feel different than their other body parts. We see genitalia as special, so why shouldn't they?

Of course little kids are not thinking about having sex, but that doesn't mean they don't know that their genitalia is sensitive and feel different than their other body parts.

Masturbation is self-stimulation of the genitals. Both boys and girls start to masturbate, in earnest, as young as one to two years of age. IT IS COMPLETELY NORMAL. Kids are curious about their bodes and find touching themselves pleasurable and comforting. Children notice a difference between girls and boys around two years, and thus in preschool may start to explore their friend's bodies to understand these differences, like an innocent game of "doctor."

Both boys and girls start to masturbate, in earnest, as young as one to two years of age. IT IS COMPLETELY NORMAL.

I find parents' concern most often lies in one of three realms:

1. Concern that that child is masturbating due to sexual abuse,

2. That others will think they are bad parents when the child touches him/herself,

3. That they are becoming sexualized too early

Thankfully, the vast majority of kids that masturbate have not been abused. That being said, if you have even an inkling that something sinister is going on, please speak to your doctor. Many kids do suffer abuse and we should keep an eye out.

In the privacy of your home, or their room, this is OK. Should it be a constant distraction, or monopolize much of your child's time, no?

Are you a bad parent if you child masturbates? Hell no! Again, this is NORMAL! But, perhaps it is best for all involved if we teach our kids that their genitals feel good, and touching them is normal, BUT there is a time and a place. In the privacy of your home, or their room, this is OK. Should it be a constant distraction, or monopolize much of your child's time, no? If this is the case, please chat with your doctor.

When kids start reaching puberty and pubertal development begins, along with increase sexual hormones, thoughts and curiosity, masturbation tends to increase.

We all know that when we were younger we too were curious about our genitals. After age six or seven, many kids stop touching themselves in public, as social awareness increases. When kids start reaching puberty and pubertal development begins, along with increase sexual hormones, thoughts and curiosity, masturbation tends to increase. At this point many pre-teens and teens recognize that masturbation is sexually pleasing and it may become a regular occurrence. You did it, and they will too. At this age it is more appropriate to begin having conversation with your children about safe sex, sexually transmitted infections, and of course respect for their partner.

Will masturbation cause your child to go blind, become sterile or insane? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

To clarify -- is a typical child who masturbates oversexed, sexually deviant or promiscuous? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Will masturbation cause your child to go blind, become sterile or insane? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

So please, if you notice your child masturbating, please do not act out of embarrassment, anger or moral outrage. It is a developmentally normal behaviour. Finding them doing so provides a great opportunity to discuss with them their own sexuality (age appropriate of course), their body parts (please use the word penis and vagina) and the difference between public and private environments.

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