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My daughter who is 6 discovered masturbation when she was just about 2 years old. It started out a couple times here and there and after about 3 or 4 months she really got into it. She will hump stuffed animals, the arm of a chair or the couch and will also hump the strap in her car seat. She started to do it out in public when she was 5 and it took me about a year to break her of it. After i broke her of the humping in public she found out that she could use her hands and did that for a little while. I finally got her to understand that it is a private thing and to only do it in private. She will still do it in the car and some times in front of me but i ignore it and after a few she usually goes to her room. Im glad that she stopped doing it in public but she recently found out another way to do it. i saw her doing it and it took me a couple of days to figure out what she was doing. She opens and closes her legs and or will squeeze thighs until she is done. I asked her what she was doing and she told me that she was doing that thing but because she couldnt do it the other way that she had to do it like that. I didnt know what to say to i said ok and left it at that. Like i said i dont care that she does it but im not sure if i should let her do it like that in public. It does not affect her home life and she has been doing it in school so i dont think that its affecting her school life because shes doing really good she tells me that she will do that 1 to 2 times a day at school. No one has contacted me yet so im almost sure that no one has noticed it. If you were around her every and didnt know her you would probably not know what she was doing. This has been going on for almost 5 months now and was hoping for some feedback or suggestions on whether or not i should stop letting her from doing that in public. I dont see any harm in it but still would like feedback from others.

Thanks a lot, Heather

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Heather, if she was 16 you would need to sit her down and talk about being a grown up. This is a 6 year old. There is a difference between "this is a neat thing on my body and it feels neat to do this", and constantly at every chance. It sounds like you are a responsible parent and very observant. You probably know that she is too young to understand what she is really doing. So something might be an issue.

Make an appointment with the pediatrition to discuss this issue. Hopefully no one has violated her to cause this behavior. It may be more likely that she is coping with an irritation or infection. The doctor needs to be brought in to examine her and make sure everything is OK.

If there are no physical reasons for this behavior then it is just discretion to learn. She will continue to advance this behavior until it is truly out of control. It could create a wrong impression with the teachers or other adult observers. She needs to learn that if you are going to accept that behavior she has to put limits on it. For instance only while wearing her pajamas and in her room. If you permit it, it places a restriction of time and place and gives her control of the behavior.

Hope this helps!
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I don't think that she has an issue with her behavior or so. For example, I find a children masturbation totally fine, but I have to agree that I think that this is not OK in her age. But that doesn't mean that she is having some problems, at all! And that doesn't mean that I am right.  I think that you are an amazing parent and that you will be able to deal with this situation. Don't judge me, but I think that it's perfectly normal for toddlers to masturbate. It doesn't necessarily mean that your toddler has been abused in any way, I am pretty sure that a lot of babies discover it on their own. But if you will be calmer, take her to the pediatrist to hear his opinion. 

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And where is the father in this whole story? No, this behavior of Heather's daughter is not caused by any kind of irritation or physical reason. The child is using masturbation as a way to substitute for feelings she is not getting from the sources she is supposed to - her family. That is what any respectable psychologist would tell you about this behavior. So, it's not really about do you accept it or not - it generally is a normal behavior, you are right about that, but when it becomes such a dominant activity in a child's life, you as a family need to see a psychologist to find out what is happening in your family dynamics.
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I am not a psychologist but I have a Bachelors in Psychology and Social Work. Just to comment on the last two posts. I minored in Human and Family development and I know that it is normal for children to stimulate themselves. It is definitely not an infection or a rash. If this child has been doing it that long and she told her mom that she is doing it in different ways then she is definitely masturbating. I also know that just because she is masturbating does not mean that she has been abused. As a matter of fact almost every child does it at some point or another. if you have ever seen a little baby grab at themselves that is them stimulating themselves. They do it because they found out that part of their body and, big shocker, it feels good to them. The ideology that masturbation is "bad" or that it is something that only adults can do is a very misguided one and only leads to confusion later on in life. I feel that the idea of having her do it in her room or in the bathroom is a good one. I also feel that it is healthy to tell them that that is something that is private and nobody wants to see them doing it. With that being said, I feel that nikols does raise a good point in that excessive masturbation could be indicative of other factors. In Social Work the rule of thumb is this; a child is touching themselves is okay. However, if that same child is penetrating themselves that is a red flag. More would have to be gleened from that situation to be an absolute indication of some misconduct. To explain, it is possible that a child found that that type of stimulation is something that they liked. However, what is more concerning in that situation is how they found out that was something they liked. Did she figure it out or did someone show her? (these are questions are rhetorical and are something you should ponder to yourself)
A big red flag would be if she was trying to "stimulate" other children. We are all social creatures, however, there are somethings that we do not just pick up someday in our existence. If something like this is going on you need to have a serious conversation with her and ask her who showed her that behavior.

(This last little tidbit is only informational and as you are this child's parent you should be able to find out if she just started doing it on her own or if there has been any misconduct.)

Please know that in most cases of childhood abuse (especially sexual) the perpetrators are people that are close to the child. Parents, siblings, Aunts/Uncles, or Child care providers (daycare, school, babysitters). Very rarely is the perpetrator a stranger to the child or you. I would also like to clear up a common misconception, the idea that all pedophiles are men is false. Statistically yes, more men are found to be the victimizers in reported cases. However, many argue (myself included) that these findings are statistically unrepresentative of the true figures for many different reasons.

You sound like a good mom from what I have read and I hope that this post was helpful to you.        
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I honestly believe she's been molested. She shouldn't understand humping. Please get her help. This is a serious issue that can't be ignored no matter if you think I'm correct. Please don't hesitate to get professional help.
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This is a very concerning and disturbing topic.  I googled it because my daughter who is 7 yrs. is still doing this and that is how I came upon this discussion.  She "learned" it 2 yrs ago in kindergarten from a friend of hers (a girl) when it was nap time.  I have NO idea where her little girlfriend learned it from --- that girl comes from a broken home with a couple of older step-sisters and her parents are somewhat liberal.  In the first grade, this same girl taught my daughter how to "dance like a stripper" for all intents and purposes and introduced her to the game "spin the bottle."  This was ALL done on the grounds of a private school.  Hence the reason I will be homeschooling my daughter this coming year.

But, back to the masturbating ..... my daughter was TAUGHT this and NOT molested.  Our daughter is fairly smart and mature and can verbalize very well.  She does it when she's bored, watching tv or trying to fall asleep (which is how/when she learned it).  We have told her this is inappropriate behavior to do in front of others (which she usually will do only with her brothers in the room while watching tv), this is NOT helping her body grow and it is a VERY bad habit and that there are SOOOO many other things she can do to make her body strong & healthy!!  She says she doesn't really enjoy it at first but when she "gets rubbing faster" -- it does feel good.  So, either when we catch her (or her brothers tattle on her!), we say, "Show me how many jumping jacks you can do!'  Or, "How many push ups can you do!?  Let's think of something else to do because this definitely does not help your mind or body to be strong!!"  We also asked her to try and really think that when she starts to rub herself -- to make herself stop and come to us and let's do some physical activity and then sometimes (not all the time), we let her have a couple cookies or popsicle.  And, we over-exaggerate how good we feel while doing something good for the body!

Believe it or not, the number of times we catch her are reducing AND the number of times she comes to us saying, "I'm starting to do that "thing" and need to do something else!" are increasing!   It's slow going but def. an improvement!

Along with all this we talk about the body and how holy it is and all the wonderful things it can and will do when treated properly!  The Olympics were a great boost to this discussion!  Of course, at 7 we are not really going to get into the whole sexuality of it, but, that will come soon enough! 
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Masturbation can begin at any point in life. She doesn't have to have been 'shown' or 'molested'. She just found, maybe, that rubbing herself a certain way produces pleasure. Teach her diseretion.
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I started masturbating before I was in kindergarten, I have done it as far back as I can remember. No I was never molested, but when my father observed this behaviour he was outraged, yelled at my mother and at me. My mother explained that I should not be doing that and not to let my father ever catch me again. He used to pop open the door to my room at odd moments while I was watching cartoons and of course masturbating, then he would start yelling again, he told my mother there must be something wrong with me and that I was un-natural. Needless to say I was more than a little paranoid a very worried that something was wrong with me, this was back in the early 70s. I of course kept right on masturbating, or rowing the boat as I like to say occasionally. When I was 30 I had my first and only child, a girl. I noticed when she was about 4 yrs that she had developed an affection for climbing up the brace pole on her swing set and sliding down it very slowly, over and over. I was determined that would not shame, embarrass, persecute make daughter feel that she us "un-natural" in any way. I ordered a couple of books that dealt specifically with sexuality in younger children. I am sorry but I do not remember the titles and have since passed the books on to other mothers who broached the subject with me. Just look on Amazon, read the reviews. So after I read up on how to broach the subject with my pre-schooler, we sat down and looked at some of the illustrations, and I talked with her about her body and her sex organs in kind of an abbreviated simple way. I read her this one really great account of a young mother trying to get her daughter to stop masturbating because they were going to be late for an appointment. The child's reply was gimme a minute, I am rubbing and I am almost to the good part. Hence masturbating became referred to as rubbing in our home. I have simply asked her to treat it somewhat like using the toilet; make sure you are alone, keep the door shut and please wash your hands after you're done.
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Did I miss something? What movies?
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that isnt normal
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Hi, Thanks for your post. My 7 year old daughter has started riding her school chair during class. If your daughter has started doing it in school and you have any suggestions, feel free to pass them along. I have tried talking nicely, gotten mad, upset and even sad I was disappointed because she knows it is something that should not be done in public. She started riding carts when she was still in diapers. I have told her it is private and only to do it in her bedroom, but what do I say or do about school. They say it is common, but her teacher told me that she may have an infection or itchy down there, so obiviously, she has not come across another girl doing it in her class before. I'm trying to find solutions to get her to stop it at school. Thanks again. Amanda

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Okay I read through all these replies and I think you all need to go and get your facts straight before you start making claims about abuse and molestation. That is absolutely ridiculous! The signs of sexual abuse have nothing to do with masturbating (they are much more severe than that) so look them up before you start making these claims!

It is normal for a child to do that. Even young babies 6months old stimulate themselves and they discover it usually on their own by accident. Example child throws a tantrum in the car seat which makes the strap rub off their genitals and they figure it out! Same scenario with the pillow or the teddy etc. I remember sitting on a ball watching a cartoon rolling around (not masturbating) when all of a sudden I felt something nice so I kept doing it. I also remember being in a swimming pool where their was a water fountain coming up and I discovered that by accident too.

As for children showing other children (that is normal too) all they are doing is explaining what feels good to them and they do not understand that there is anything sexual about it. If you look it up you will probably find loads of info on children role playing and stimulating each other. As long as that is all that happens (according to some psychologists) it is normal. There are some things that children should not know how to do such as oral sex or inserting objects into the vagina or inserting penis into something (that is not normal) and it should set alarm bells ringing.

Heather the fact that your daughter does this a lot may be a sign of stress. As long as it does not affect her daily activities it should not be an issue but you should explain to her that it is private again and ask her to only do it in her bedroom or the bathroom as she should not be doing that in front of you. I hope this helps
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I'm no doctor but for me that's normal. My sister started touching herself when she was 5. She didn't know what she was doing or that it was called masturbation, all she knew was it felt good. And whatever kids think feels good or is good they will do, no matter what you say to them or try to stop them. It'll just make them want to do it more.
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That is probably out of boredom/stress. Have a very calm heart to heart with her. Tell her when she touches herself it is normal and lots of people do that but it is a very private thing that should only be done when she is alone. Her bedroom, the bathroom etc or any other room where nobody else is present such as her games room...

The reason she does not understand that it is private or why is because there is nothing sexual about it to her. She just thinks this is my body and that feels good so why shouldn't I do it?

Tell her the truth-it makes others feel uncomfortable to see someone touch themselves like that but doesn't mean that it is wrong. It just means it is private
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