We all feel awkward talking about it. We all feel awkward having to confront it. We all feel awkward having to guide our children through it. It’s worse than having to talk about IT. What is this thing that makes us feel so awkward?
Masturbation… There, I said it!
Yup, good old masturbation! We’ve all done it… so what’s the big faux pas? Well, when it comes to young children, as in 8 and under, it’s awkward as hell. It’s something that adults will quickly give you the impression it’s wrong to do. But it’s natural, so how could it be bad?
I had some friends over and we somehow got on this topic. Maybe it’s because their children are now in the phase of discovering themselves more as they are currently going through potty training. The day we get there, I’d like to be the “cool parent” dealing with it in a healthy way, letting my child know that it’s ok to do in private.
Because we all give that area names; your vagina, your penis, your private parts, your area under your bikini, your flower, your cotton balls, your wee-wee, your no-no area, etc. We slowly start teaching them that nobody is to touch this area, but we never let them know that it’s ok for them to touch this area.
That’s something we don’t want to encourage anyhow, right? But what if they do it on their own in private? Even worse, what if they do it in public?
My one friend shared how the pre-school teacher let her know that they had had a little situation. The situation was that her son pulled out his penis and started playing with it in the middle of the room during playtime. Another incident this mom when through was during bath time. Her response to this was “No, no, you need to stop doing that,” and his response was:
But mommy, I’m in the bathroom.”
He was right and she had to leave for a second because she wanted to laugh so bad. He was following instructions; you can do it in the bathroom or in the bedroom. So we discussed that the next instruction would probably be, you can do this in the bathroom or in your room when you are alone when nobody else is with you.
Another mom pitched in with her stories, and something we took away from her experience is how important it is to not make such a big deal about it when it does happen. To remain calm and collected. The conversation should be at their level, enough to point out that what they’re doing is ok to do in private, while at the same time teaching them that nobody is to disrespect them by touching these private areas.
As parents, I feel like this a teaching moment for our children, regardless of our upbringing. Some of us may have grown up with “We’re not talking about this.” Others may have grown up with “Yes, those are your private parts that you touch in private.”
Regardless of your situation with this situation, there are professionals that can help you deal with it.
In reading more about it, a few have said that children do this more when they are bored, have anxiety, feel stressed or tired. A professional can guide you and let you know why your child may be doing this if it is becoming a problem.
But, the other important point to keep in mind is that they’re not hurting themselves. Masturbation is normal and part of a child’s growth and development. As parents, it’s our job and duty to help them grow and develop in the healthiest and safest way possible.