My Daughter Masturbates – Is That Normal?

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So, your daughter masturbates and it’s freaking you out, huh? Guess what: Masturbating is normal at any age. It just plain feels good. And it’s actually a good idea.

There are certain ages where this behavior will peak. You can guess which ages those are, if you think about the ages at which kids are most self-involved. The preschool years and the young-mid teen years are the true heights of existential existence. So for your 3 year old (and for a 13 year old), they live by the precept “If it feels good, do it.”

Should you be worried? No. Should you guide your child? Sure! This behavior is private. This is OK when you’re alone, in the bathroom or your bedroom. This isn’t something to do with other people around.

The important point here is to teach your child discretion without teaching her shame. Learning about her body, what feels good and what all the parts are for, is an important step on the road to being a healthy young adult. You want her to someday be an adult who does not let someone else touch her in a way she doesn’t like. Teaching her both privacy and pride directly affect her ability to protect herself and advocate for herself in the future.

Will your kid be be “overly sexual” later? Masturbation does not lead to promiscuity. Earlier I said it’s a good idea. Why? Teens who (on anonymous surveys) give high scores for masturbation and comfort with themselves often delay sex with others. Perhaps this is because they can explore these feelings alone, perhaps it is because they can better communicate what they do and don’t want to do. Maybe it’s because sex for teens tends to be messy, embarrassing, often terrifying and about 17 seconds from start to finish. The kids who can achieve orgasm alone may realize how much better it is!

All kids have sexual and sensual feelings. We each have a drive to explore these feelings (or we would never have kids). Consider this: would you rather your tween or teen try to satisfy these urges alone or with a friend? Many kids respond to their sex drive with experimentation. Having the knowledge and skills to satisfy their sexual hungers on their own can give them extra strength to avoid sexual situations they aren’t ready for. Pretending our children don’t have an inborn sexual drive will only increase their risk of bad outcomes later, like STDs and teen parenting.


Dr. Doom disclaimer: Children who suddenly become much more sexual at any age may be a victim of sexual abuse. This behavior usually represents itself in more than one way. Masturbating alone is not usually such an indicator. Children in this situation will often show behavior change as well, some becoming withdrawn or aggressive, behaving suddenly different towards men/teen boys. If you have ANY concerns about this, speak to your child’s doctor or seek out advocacy in your area.

Remember: Good parents can end up with a child who has been sexually abused by someone. Good parents ask and listen. Good parents look for the truth even if it is hard!

Related post: We Don’t Play With Our Vulvas At The Table


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  1. Shon says

    Great article however the primary focus is on girls. This should also address boys . “Suddenly with draw from teen bous or men”, women molest children also.

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  2. Christine says

    “Dr. Doom disclaimer”, I love the phrase! It’s funny and takes a little pressure off a “heavy” topic.

    As a preschool teacher for over 15 years, I have only seen this once. A little girl would do it to fall asleep at nap time at school. It was obvious to me what she was doing, but none of the other kids saw her doing it & she was a good kid. I agree. If it feels good, do it!

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  3. TL says

    My nominee for the worst birthday parent is a neighbor whose parents gave their daughter a new lawn mower for her 16th birthday. It turned out that she was an abused child, adopted by them at age 7. When she turned 18 and could leave, she refused to have anything more to do with them. We took her in then and helped her through a difficult teen period. She stayed with us for about six years. She had not been taught to drive and was emotionally about age 12. She expected to be beaten for minor accidents. She is now in her early 40s, has a master’s degree and is happily married for over 10 years. We think of her as our third child. She has been a delight. It has been a good experience all around.

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  4. says

    There is one more point of caution I heard recently about masturbation. It’s completely normal, unless it’s done in any way which may hinder the genital and brain connections while developing masturbation habits.

    I’m not sure if it’s a job of a parent to teach kids how to masturbate properly, gently etc, but it’s not a bad idea to mention this somehow. For example, some boys develop unusual masturbating habits, such as rubbing against pillows. Partner sex may become difficult in time. For girls, it’s keeping their legs stiff and close shut (my case), which can make it kind of awkward to have sex even now – in my 30s.

    Also being too fast during masturbation can lead to premature ejaculation and not being able to be in the moment for girls. So I’d say, since it could potentially affect your child their entire life, it’s a good idea to include this into sex ed somehow.

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  5. Irrational Moon says

    I always tell my 3 year old daughter “It’s like picking your nose. It’s rude to do it in public and you should wash your hands afterwards. Licking your fingers does not count as washing. Use soap.”

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  6. AGirlTeenager says

    I sincerely wish my parents had been this open with me about my body and self when I was younger. Thank you for this post, and for what you do. I hope to have kids, and when I do I hope I’m as good a mom as you are!

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