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My daughter, who is almost 4, constantly stimulates herself...usually by rubbing herself on a chair, but she does it a lot in her carseat as well. Please don't tell me to check for abuse because she has done this since she was about 9 months, and the only caregive she has ever had is my mother. I talked to the doctor then and the doc said she would grow out of it. "Just try to distract her and give her something else to do". Well, that never worked. She would even get mad at me, say if we were in the store and she was doing it in the shopping cart, if I would make her stop before she was "finished". She doesn't do this anymore, and she really doesn't do it in public at all anymore. She understands that it is something to do in private, but she still is doing it a lot at home. Every chance she gets, like if me and Daddy aren't in the room, she will sit on her chair and do it. I feel bad because it is so frustrating I do get angry just because sometimes she rubs herself sore. I know that it is normal for children to do this, but this much??? I have hesitated asking the doctor again because I don't want the same "Ignore it, it will pass" kind of response. Because now it is almost like she can't help it and she can even hardly sit still on a chair without doing it. It has become more of a habit now, that I'm not sure how to break. The "ignoring it, it will pass" has not worked and it is worse than before. I have taken away chairs, stools, everything, and then I find her doing it on the coffee table!

Has anyone gone through this? I don't want to cause her to have problems later sexually, but I just don't know what to do anymore! This, for me and my husband, has been the hardest part of our parenting because its something we can't control. I hoped she would grow out of it when she went to preschool, but she hasn't. Its worse than ever.

Help please!

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Hey mum....
m wondering whether she's the only kid in tha house, coz if thats the case, then i think she will have all the ample time and reasons to masturbate..what i'm thinking is if u guys can get her to be active in something e.g say incase she is enrolled in pre school where she gets to meet other kids and have so do during the day, she will start masturbating less and less , because as you said, it seems she knows that its not a good thing, and i bet she wouldnt want to be laughed at by other kids when they see her doing this....
Coz this is the thing, the more her mind is unoccupied, the more she'll tend to masturbate herself.Plus this is not good for her, if she has already started hurting herself, and not to forget, if she starts doing this at such a tender age and she's not stopped, then her sex life in future will be ruined if she continues with this habit all thru to her adulthood...

so for now, what i'd suggest is try keep her mind active e.g outdoors by getting to play out with her, or let her get around other kids and have a playful enviroment, so that she can outgrow this vice faster, before it gets out of hand..
Hope i helped...
Word Up!
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Hi wats-wat! Thank you for your response. She is the only child, however, I have very close friends who all have daughters around her age. We have play-dates atleast twice a week and she goes to pre-school two days a week. Also, my mom is her care-giver and she has playdates with the neighbor kids there. She has plenty of social interaction and she is a wonderful playmate. She does not do her "private thing" when she is playing with her friends. It only seems to be happening at home now when we leave the room. Again, this weekend, I have taken away her chair. I hate taking away things, but if they are there, she will do it. I do believe she is getting better and not doing it as much. I'm really interested to see if anyone has gone through this personally and how they handled it. Its easy to say what you would do in this situation, but its much different when you are dealing with it. And doing what the doctors said "Just distract her or ignore it" has not worked. It actually made it to where it is almost a habit now and she does it without even thinking about it now.

Again, thank you, I appreciate your input.
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I think that is a little bit early for the kids in her age to pleasure herself. I am aware that masturbation for kids is common between boys and girls, even in its very young ages, but this is something that I somehow find unacceptable. I am not saying that kids are different or sick or something, I just don't understand it. Yes, I do know that masturbation and this behavior that occurs in children for a number of reasons. Some experts say that sometimes children do it to self-soothe. If they are feeling anxious or frustrated about something, Or they just like it. But I don't get it. 

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Masturbation is the self stimulation of the genitals for pleasure or self comfort. During masturbation, a child often appears dazed, flushed, and preoccupied. The frequency of this behavior may range from once per week to several times per day. It occurs more commonly when a child is sleepy, bored, watching T.V., or under stress.

Occasional masturbation is a normal behavior of many infants and preschoolers. Up to one-third of children in this age group discovers masturbation while exploring their bodies. Just as they explore their toes and knees, children find all their parts of their bodies eventually. They find it feels good to touch themselves in this way and continue to do so. Most children do this as a comfort measure much like a pacifier is for infants. Of note: irritation or infection does not cause masturbation. This causes pain or itching, so the child may scratch the area and this should be distinguished from masturbation.

Once masturbation begins, it seldom stops completely. However, by age five or six, most children learn some discretion and masturbate only in private. Masturbation becomes almost universal at puberty with normal surges in hormones and sexual drive.

So how do you come to terms with a behavior that is normal but concerning especially when company is over at the house? I suggest the following:

It is impossible to eliminate masturbation. Accept the fact that she has learned it and enjoys it. Therefore, a reasonable goal is to control where it occurs. Perhaps limiting it to the bathroom or bedroom. Tell your child it's okay, but it is a private thing that should only be done in her bedroom. Don't ignore it completely, or she may think it is okay to do it freely in any setting leading to criticism by adults and chiding by other children.
Ignore masturbation at naptime and bedtime. Try to avoid checking up on them. Remember, this is often a comfort measure to the child.
When masturbation occurs outside of her bedroom, first try distracting her. Try distracting her with an activity preferably requiring the use of her hands. If this fails, discipline her reminding her that you know it feels good, but she can't do that in front of other people. Before the age of four or five she may need to be sent to her room.
Discuss how you are handling this with all her caretakers. Consistency is key to success.
Call your physician if you suspect that your child has been taught masturbation by someone else, your child tries to masturbate others, your child continues to masturbate in front of others.
Marci, masturbation does not cause physical injury or harm to the body, promiscuity, or sexual deviance. Your child is normal. Masturbation is not abnormal or excessive unless it is deliberately done in public places after the age of five or six. Masturbation can cause emotional harm (e.g. guilt or sexual hangups) only if adults overreact to it and make it seem dirty or wicked.
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Thank you Guest. Your post was actually very helpful. Most of these are things we have tried, but I had not heard/read about the age of 5-6 being the age they realize, themselves, that it is inappropriate in public settings. She has really gotten better about not doing it when we have company or when she is at her friends' houses. When she is busy, she doesn't do it, which is comforting. I will stick with what I am doing, which is try to distract her and talk to her about how it is something to do in private. She is almost 4 and is very mature, so I am hoping that soon it will be a "thing of the past".

Thank you again...I appreciate all the useful information you have provided :-)
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Hi,
I know how you feel about your daughter doing this at such a young age. My daughter is doing the same and she is 3 yrs 5 months. I noticed what she was doing this when she was age 2 (i think) but didn't say anything, I thought I was just thinking wrong. But when she turned 3 yrs old, I talked to my mom and she said I use to do the same thing around that age, and I actually remember laying on my stomach and rocking at a very young age. I talked to my daughter a couple of months ago and told her that no one wants to see her doing this and that if she wanted to do that she needed to go to her room. So I started noticing that when she starts to roll on to her belly she gets up and goes to her room. I did find Guest info very useful. Thank You Guest. I talked to my husband and told him what she was doing and then today he caught her doing it in her room. He freaked out and yelled at her. I told him not to do that and that it was normal and he didn't want to beleive me. So I started research on the computer to prove it to him. Now he says well I don't want her to do it around me. I told him she was in her room. He's just realy freaked out that his 3 year old is doing this. So I talked to my daughter again and told her she needed to close her door so no one could see her doing that. She said Okey. We will see.

So just to let you know your not the only parent out there with a young child doing this. Good luck with your daughter.
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Hi Guest! Wow, I knew I wasn't alone, but it is such a "taboo" thing for parents to talk about their children doing this, especially girls. I understand about your husband...my husband is the same way...I can deal with it in more of a mature manner, but it really makes him uncomfortable. I appreciate you're sharing, and it seems like your daughter is getting the hang of it. My mom said I also did something similar when I was younger, but grew out of it. I am hoping the same for my daughter. I had a very heartfelt talk with her a couple weeks ago, and it has gotten much much better. She isn't doing it in her carseat anymore and I haven't caught her doing it once. She has been doing it in private and stops if me or dad come in the room. I think she's getting it. Thank goodness :-D
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I have a 4 year old cousin who lives with us here, and she's been doing it since she's been around 3. NONSTOP. She tries to hide it, and for the longest time, she'd pull a blanket over herself. Her mom took her to the doctor about it because she was doing it much more often then she "should" have been but everything was normal. The doctor told us not to yell at her for it or anything because it could make her extremely shy sexually when she gets older. She's finally been, for the past 2 months, not doing it as often. We'll find her maybe once a week doing it, but we ask her if she has to potty and that's usually the problem.
I remember all too well that I didn't grow out of it until I was around 6.... :$ And I remember my mom yelling at me like it was yesterday, anytime she'd notice me doing it she'd yell a lot and send me to my room. So I know first hand that it can make a girl sexually awkward in her teen years.. :-(
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I can say, from experience, its does get to you after a while...I have caught my self raising my voice when she does it nonstop...but lately, I haven't had too. I try really hard not to make her think it is a bad thing, just something to do in private. All I can hope for is that she grows completely out of it soon!
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About your question, my daughter went through this. Only my daughter wasn't masturbating, she was scratching, you may want to consider these tips. The scratching was due to Vulvovaginitis. It is a common problem for young girls, and in most cases you can do things at home to take care of the problem. With my daughter, our docctor recommeneded that we not use harsh soaps when bathing, advise her to wipe from front to back, make sure she is in loose fitting comfortable clothing, and not to use fabric softeners when washing her underwear or even use a washing liquid with no fragrances. These things really solved the problem. Try rubbing A&D ointment on her after bathtime, and see if helps! Good luck
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Well my 10 month old son does this same thing. But it is most of the time when he gets sleepy or bored he looks like he is humping stuff. Like dry humping but he does it more if he has like a pillow or blanket. Its so weird and I know he's little and he dont understand but its grossing me out and I try to distract him give him toys ect. ect. but he still does. he has a low tention span which means he gets bored easily so what do I do about this???????????
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User avatar
Health Ace
6884 posts
Leave him alone, stop stressing yourself, and him.
He's just having fun.
At 10 months he isn't thinking dirty.
It'll take a while before adults can make him think "dirty".
He's just enjoying himself.
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My daughter is 4 years old, almost 5 (in may) She stimulates herself often, usually in the shopping cart or on her chair. I've never really thought to much of it because, I vaguely remember doing the same sort of stuff when I was little. The other day I did catch her with her pants pulled down around her bum, using her chair to stimulate herself...That's the point that made me do some investigating. I'm glad to hear that its more of a common thing, than not. I usually try & distract her when she does it. I think she knows that its something she shouldn't be doing, because when were at the store all I have to do is look at her funny, or ask her what shes doing...She usually stops. When I caught her w/her pants down & using her chair I did get mad, at first. We had guest over & I discreetly told her that no one wants to see her bum, and I took her chair. Me & my husband both figured it was a normal thing, but weren't sure if it would be something that she grows out of...I'm hoping so. I never thought of telling her it was a private thing, and to go to her room (that just seems a little weird to me) but the more I think about it...I think its a good idea, I don't ever want her to be embarrassed, teased, or caught doing it. I'm glad i googled it, I wasn't sure about searching it (it seemed awkward) but I'm glad I did.
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Guest...your daughter sounds like mine. I haven't actually had my daughter take her pants down because she seems to enjoy it enough, I think, with her pants on. Anyway, the shopping cart used to be one of the places that really bothered me, but she has finally stopped doing that. I had to tell her that she won't be able to go to the store with me anymore if she keeps doing it, and that pretty much worked. In her chair is her "preferred", but now, all I have to say is "Are you doing your private thing?" and "Where do you need to go to do that?"...she gets up and goes to her room. We still have issues in the carseat, but pretty soon she will be moving to a booster, so I am hoping it stops then. I do think it is something they grow out of or atleast do less of. The only time she does it is at home, so I don't worry about her doing it at school or anything.

I know it is frustrating...but try not to get mad at your daughter...and believe me, I know its hard, and I have caught myself raising my voice with her over this 'private thing'....but I just have to keep telling myself it is normal, she will grow out of it, and it bothers me more than it bothers anyone else, including her.

Good luck and good to hear your story!
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