Let me tell you as a teacher for many years, at one time or another, I’ve looked upon my gorgeous Kindergarten class to see at least a couple of them either with their hands up their dress or down their pants.. masturbating. Yes! and once I realised that a child had forgotten to wear undies to school! (true story)
Were they bored? Maybe! Should I make a big deal about it? Tell their parents? Was it normal? Should I take them aside tell them it’s wrong and inapropriate? Let’s face it, our genitals have so many nerve endings, it feels nice, no wonder that children like to masturbate!
If you look up any expert’s ‘sexual stages of development’ prior to puberty they will most likely say that masturbation is a perfectly normal stage of of a child’s development.
Research shows that before puberty, masturbation is generally not sexually pleasurable (no orgasm), that it just feels ‘nice’ and it’s normal for any child to want to discover their own bodies.
Then why and how should we talk about this and why is it such a taboo topic if it’s normal? It is private and you may feel embarrassed and maybe even uncomfortable. We must acknowledge that these feelings are normal and so is masturbation.
Remember that the myths about masturbation that it will cause blindness, stunt your growth, cause infidelity or give you an STD are simply not true. These are based on fear, guilt and shame.
No matter what your beliefs, morals, values or faith might be, there should be no guilt, shame or punishment when you talk about it together! Try to stay calm and not make it such a big deal that the whole world knows about it. Talk about touching private parts in private and just like other conversations, children need to not just have a ‘one off’ talk, rather continual conversations.
Should you be concerned that your child’s masturbation may be a sign of sexual abuse? Excessive masturbation in public or private that interferes with daily life in one way or the other, may be a sign of this. Don’t panic, seek professional help and guidance.
Our kids need to be open to talking about what is normal. So let’s start talking more about masturbation!