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Masturbation in Children: Is it Normal?

By HERWriter
 
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It is not unusual for parents to ask their pediatrician if their child masturbating is normal. And most doctors answer yes. It is a part of the standard human sexual experience. Masturbation among young children is very common, and quite normal.

Children often begin masturbating at around 18 months of age. They explore their changing bodies and often discover early that it feels good to touch their genitals. It gives them a sense of comfort in many cases. Masturbation tends to peak when children are between the ages of 3 and 5. It then declines in frequency until puberty.

Still, it is understandably disturbing and extremely uncomfortable to think of children as sexual beings. However, researchers say sexual development is as much a part of children’s normal growth and development as when they learn a language.

It is important to know that children do not generally associate self-stimulation with sexuality or adult relationships until much later in childhood.

The way in which parents react to their child’s masturbation can impact sexual attitudes and behaviors in their adult life.

Doctors suggest using it as an opportunity to teach children about their own sexuality and about the differences between public and private activities. If parents overreact, they may put fear into their children about their bodies. Many physicians advise parents that children should never be punished or shamed for masturbating, as this can have major effects on their self-esteem and comfort with sexual activity as adults.

Although doctors know that masturbation is common and even considered a healthy thing to do, if it becomes compulsive for a child, it is probably time to talk to a therapist, doctor, or nurse.

Excessive or public masturbation may be indicative of a more serious problem. It could be a sign the child is stressed, is preoccupied with sexual thoughts, fantasies, or urges, or is not receiving enough attention at home. Sometimes masturbation is a means of providing the child with personal comfort when he or she is feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Unfortunately, it can even be a signal for sexual abuse.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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