Should you talk to your kids about masturbation?

Masturbation is natural in humans, the fetus already does it in its mother’s womb! Babies and then children play with their sex, with a naturalness that adults do not share. They don’t always know how to react to masturbation. So what to say to a child who caresses himself? Some age-appropriate advice.

A baby sometimes discovers his genitals by chance and he plays with them from time to time because he tends to repeat what he finds pleasant. Then, the young child explores his body out of curiosity and he can discover pleasant sensations by caressing himself. Some even do it before naps or at night because it relaxes them.

Parents are often at a loss when faced with this behavior, which is nothing to worry about. In the youngest, it is enough to withdraw the hand gently and to create a diversion. We avoid slaps on the hand, “it’s dirty” or other negative comments… The ideal is even to take the opportunity to do some sex education and explain to him that he is touching his penis ( or her vulva) but it’s time to sit down to eat, read a book, etc.

From the age of 3 or 5, the parents can explain simply and without irritation, that he must do it in his room, in private, because it is intimate and that concerns only him. Anyway, from the age of 6, the child becomes more modest of himself. The attitude to banish is to scold him, to tell him that “it’s not good” and to make him feel guilty: it “demonizes” sexuality. And of course, we avoid making fun of him, saying nonsense (like “if you continue, he will fall”) or punishing him…

Sex education, to start as soon as possible!

A sexual education consists in laying down a healthy framework, bordering on sexuality. The first step is to approach the genitals with simplicity: children are taught the different parts of the body but sex often goes down the drain! Might as well take the opportunity to name the penis, the testicles, the vulva and the clitoris (they are often curious about this and expect answers, which many parents do not dare to do). Some parents feel embarrassed to do so, but talking naturally about these “things” is important to teach the child about his anatomy, which is nothing to be ashamed of. This is an opportunity to convey key messages: respect your body and have it respected (others don’t have to touch your private organs). For those who do not feel able to approach the subject, there are very well done books, which can serve as support such as “How to talk about sexuality to children” by Anne Vaisman or the work of Jocelyne Robert, “My sexuality from 6 to 9 years old”.

A few scenarios require vigilance: if it interferes with the child’s activities, if he isolates himself from his friends to masturbate, if there is irritation in the sex area indicating excessive masturbation ( we can then explain to him to take care of his body, including his private parts), or if he continues to caress himself in public, when we have already explained to him to do so in private. It is therefore advisable to speak to a doctor. A general practitioner, a pediatrician or a child psychiatrist may have a less “emotional” opinion than that of the parents.

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Should you talk to your kids about masturbation?

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