Most people agree that masturbation is a normal part of live and as humans, we can choose to participate in this behavior, or avoid it if necessary. Although it is normal, often parents are uneasy about what to do if they catch their child masturbating and even more uneasy if they had to talk to them about it. Masturbation is a healthy sexual expression for both adults and children. Some researchers would even go as far as to say that masturbation should occur during childhood to help build neuropathways in the body for orgasm, because ultimately that is what an orgasm is, a neurological response.
If you catch your child stimulating him or herself, don’t overreact! Masturbation will not cause psychological harm to your child; however, your reaction might. So take a deep breath, and address it when they are not masturbating. Explain that this is okay for them to do, but in the privacy of their bedroom or home.
No one wants their kid masturbating in the cereal aisle in the grocery store. Talk about privacy and you may be able to equate it to going to the bathroom, which kids are able to understand. Explain that just like we go to the bathroom in private and take a shower/bath in private, this (masturbation) should also be done in private. Although discussing sexuality with your kids can be uncomfortable, it is essential for their development. At the medical center, though we only treat female sexual dysfunction, we have a number of resources for kids and parents on how to open up this conversation. Some book recommendations: It’s So Amazing and Our Bodies, Ourselves.