Masturbation in Early Childhood

How should the process of child psychology and sexual awareness be handled? What should be the role of parents in this period?

“My 4-year-old son touches his genitals with his hand and does these behaviors over and over again, hidden in his room. My 5-year-old daughter rubs it from time to time and sometimes touches her genitals in kindergarten and says she likes to do it…”

“Aren’t you ashamed?” “Isn’t it shameful?” “If I see you doing it again…” “Such things are sin… etc” Do we use the phrases for our children?

In the pre-school period in children, physical and psychological developments as well as sexual developments are seen. In many children, repetitive stimulation behaviors of the genital area are seen, which are considered normal development and do not cause any developmental negativity. It usually starts around 18 months and reaches its peak at 4 years of age, and starts to decrease after 6 years of age.

3 years of age is a very important developmental period in children. Because in this period, children enter a process where they are curious about their bodies and sexual organs. The child who discovers that touching his genitals gives pleasure may repeat this behavior for a while. These repetitive behaviors can sometimes be seen in society and social environments. Because in this process where the child discovers his own body, he wants to share and show this different and new experience to other people. In such cases, instead of getting angry with your child, embarrassing him and putting him in guilt, it is necessary to show understanding and consistency, knowing that this behavior is a temporary process.

Sexual arousal (masturbation), which is part of a normal healthy development in children, can sometimes put families in a difficult process. Because adults may consider these behaviors as embarrassing or shameful behavior. This turns the healthy process into an unhealthy one without realizing it.

Don’t Think Like Adult Sexuality!

Parents’ perception of this temporary process as an embarrassing and should not happen harms both themselves and their children. What children experience and feel is very different from how adults feel. The child discovers that touching his genitals gives pleasure and may repeat this behavior for a while. The child cannot understand why he is enjoying these behaviors, but he goes over and over the feeling he notices. While touching his body, the child both feels that his experience is different and wants to provide it again and again as he gets pleasure. In girls, rubbing against objects, touching them with their hands; In boys, we can see behaviors such as holding and squeezing their genitals.

In such cases, we should immediately consider that they are children and think that your children notice these behaviors somehow (impulsively). If we are angry with your children and choose not to talk to them, you will leave them alone with this behavior. So, you give him the opportunity to do more.

Masturbation is not a danger to children, it is a special behavior for their relaxation. As the child touches his own body and gets pleasure, he feels safe and turns this satisfaction into a gain with the feeling of being loved. And this again lays the foundations for the development of self-confidence.

How Should You Behave?

* If your child is masturbating, you should keep in mind that it is a healthy part of development instead of raising it.

* You should follow your child in a remote, controlled manner and determine in which situations your child intensifies these behaviors.

* It is necessary to make sure that your child does not have any health problems and that there is no problem that causes itching in the genital area.

*All controls have been made and if there is no health problem, it should not be forgotten that the majority of the process is in adults, that is, the family attitude is important.

* Observe how often your child does this behavior during the day and try to talk to him calmly. Ask him how he feels when he does this and never embarrass him.

*Tell your child in appropriate language that this is a special behavior. Create special spaces suitable for him and find different activities for him to calm down and relax.

When to Get Expert Support?

If your child is repeating this behavior very often outside of the norm, and has taken care of his own body and made a behavior that reduces his interest in his environment and has started to harm the child’s communication skills, it is definitely recommended to seek expert support.

We should not forget that in both cases, masturbation is one of the most fundamental parts of development, and the frequency of the behavior and the prolongation of the process are directly proportional to the attitudes of the family and adults. My advice to families is that we do not overestimate this process; but it is a situation that we should not ignore. As in every process, any situation set out with patience and consistency will result in success.

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