Infantile and early childhood masturbation is still a big taboo subject, despite the fact that this behavior can be seen in most children at various stages of development. This issue often raises parents’ anxiety and even embarrassment, especially when the child begins to touch in a public place. How to react to such behavior? When to go to a child sexologist? We hope that the article below will dispel your doubts.
Infantile and early childhood masturbation – the correct stage in the development of the child
In 1987, Professor Israel Meisner, while performing an ultrasound examination of his pregnant patient, observed a strange thing. It seemed impossible, but a 28-week-old boy in her womb masturbated. The public was shocked! In later years many more such situations were recorded, so this discovery cannot be considered as an accident. The activity, which for years was attributed only to adults, turned out to be completely natural and devoid of sexual overtones.
Cases of infantile and early childhood masturbation are most often classified as so-called developmental masturbation and is estimated to occur in as much as 35-55% of children. Touching intimate places or rubbing them against objects can usually be observed in three development periods: between 2-3 and 5-6 years of age, as well as during puberty. However, it also happens that such behaviors are already manifested by a few months old babies. In such cases masturbation is quite often confused with the symptoms of epilepsy, dystonia or dyskinesia.
Developmental masturbation of children is an activity focused only on satisfying pleasure. This behavior is repetitive – the toddler discovers that he enjoys a particular type of touch, which is why he treats masturbation as a form of play. This type of masturbation passes over time. It’s also easy to distract a child by engaging them in other activities or occupying an interesting toy.
Should infantile and early childhood masturbation be of special interest to parents?
Developmental masturbation is completely correct behavior that does not affect the child’s psychophysical development in any way. Your kid discovers his body and its reactions, so you have no reason to worry. How to behave when we “catch” a child during masturbation? It’s best to ignore it. The solution mentioned above can also be taking the child to play. You should definitely not shout, scold or scare the toddler – it may have negative effects on certain aspects of his or her sex life in the adult life.
But what if the child masturbates when guests are at home? Or worse, when you hear about your masturbating child from a babysitter or teacher? The problem should be solved gently, without making the child feel guilty or ashamed. For a toddler, touching intimate places is the same as, for example, touching the ear or nose. The best solution is a quiet conversation, during which you explain to your child that certain activities are intimate and should be performed alone.
Parental intervention may require another form of self-stimulation – experimental masturbation. The child begins to experiment with his body because of innate curiosity and the desire to know its limits. These activities are usually not hidden – the kids treat it as normal fun. However, they often start using items for this purpose. Children try to push things into the vagina or anus, and the boys put the penis into narrow objects. You should definitely react, because such behavior may end up harming your toddler.
When should you seek help from a child sexologist?
While the previously described behaviors do not require more reaction than a quiet conversation, there are cases in which it is worth using the help of a child sexologist. It is instrumental masturbation, which is not about getting pleasure or getting to know your body. It can be a form of getting the attention from adults or a way to deal with anxiety, stress or loneliness.
Instrumental masturbation is often public or even overt – the child not only relieves his tension, but also signals a problem. This is not a one-time situation, you will notice a repetitive pattern. This type of behavior can be a response to an unstable family situation, for example, parents’ divorce or lack of interest in the child, but not only. So it is worth contacting a specialist to thoroughly examine the problem instead of focusing on disciplining the child. Sometimes it is necessary to contact a child psychologist, who, with the help of proven methods, will help the toddler deal with tension and stress.
Read more: Taking Your Child to Child Psychologist
In most cases, children’s masturbation is a completely natural and harmless element in a child’s development. However, it is worth observing the circumstances surrounding it and paying special attention to the daily conduct of your child. In the event of disturbing behavior, it is worth seeking advice from the appropriate specialist – a child sexologist. This will help prevent any disturbances in the development of the child’s psyche that may negatively affect later years.