Masturbation doesn’t have to be a difficult topic to talk about with your kids. Small children, especially, may not even understand what masturbation means. They just know that touching themselves feels good. This is often the easiest time to broach the subject if you ask me. The video above provides scripting for this talk with your child. It is just one excerpt from our Talking THE Talk Together e-course designed to guide parents and their 9-12 year olds through the sex talk together.
With younger children, parents can acknowledge that the touching is happening by saying something like, “I totally understand your body feels good.” Then parents can suggest that kind of touching be done in private and, if kids want to do it, they should go to their rooms to be alone.
For a child under age 8, the talk might revolve around self-touching. This is vastly different than masturbating for sexual pleasure (which involves hormones, fantasy, and sexual awareness). Often times young children may touch themselves to self-soothe or relax. Pre-school teachers around the globe have had to tell parents their children had their hand in their pants during nap time 🥴. This is more times than not an innocent, sex-less act of self-exploration. To know what to keep an eye out for sexual abuse click here.
When it comes to older children and masturbation, parents will want to continue to emphasize that touching oneself is natural and normal, not dirty. As children enter puberty and sex is more on the brain, masturbation can be discussed as a safer sex option, and a way to learn more about one’s body.
Simply put, when kids are touching themselves, it’s an opportunity for parents to teach them in a nonjudgmental way that our bodies are capable of much more than just reproduction.
1. Talk about it earlier, rather than later
This conversation is much easier when it is about self-exploration. Don't put it off until you suspect your child is masturbating or catch them. You'll risk not having the conversation at all to avoid the awkwardness and embarrassment. If you need some ideas on how to get the conversation started today try utilizing everyday teachable moments.
2. Master your "poker face"
Your tone and facial expressions always speak louder than your words. Your body should be relaxed and playing it cool with a confident voice. Be matter-a-fact. Focus most on how you want your child to feel about this topic: that it is nothing to feel ashamed about, but is something done in private.
If you haven't mastered your poker face (even if you have) it can be helpful to have this talk while doing something else like driving, walking, or playing a game together. Many parents find tough talks more successful that way.
3. Avoid shaming
Stay clear of using shame or incorrect information in an effort to curb masturbation. I know many of us were told when we were young that we would grow hair on our palms or go blind if we masturbated. Or other messages like good girls don't do that. Self-touch is natural and does not harm the body physically in any way. There are more effective strategies than fear tactics to raise sexually healthy and safe kids. There is no need to resort to shame or fear to curb a teen's libido, I promise.
4. Emphasize Privacy
A fear many parents have is their child touching themself at school or where others may see. You can teach young children that they can explore their body when at home. Use simple messages like, private body parts should be covered and only touched in private places. Private places are your bedroom or bathroom. Something simple like that.
5. Talk about body autonomy and consent
Tell children that they get to decide who touches their body. Whether they want touch from others at the moment or not they get to decide. The same goes for others. We must all have permission to touch others and should always stop if asked to stop. We have a great blog on consent to learn more about this important subject.
There's no sugarcoating it: It's likely your kid will come across porn online, even through completely innocent searches. In all honesty, haven't you come across adult content when searching for something unrelated? I once looked up Girl Scout cookies under Google images and stumbled across some different "cookies" I wasn't looking for if you know what I mean? Parents may find themselves confronting this issue much sooner than imagined, with kids who may not even understand exactly what sex is yet. This blog post can help and be sure to download our how to talk about porn parent toolkit.
Sexting is sending or getting sexually explicit or suggestive images, messages, or video on a smartphone or through the Internet. Rather than being shocked to find that kids are sexting, we should start talking about it from an early age. In this blog find tips on how to get this important conversation started.
Be proactive with conversations and whenever possible have them before things are happening. It is much easier to talk about masturbation before your child is taking 20 minute showers several times a day.🙈 Stay in front of these issues so they can be broached with ease. You've got this!
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