By Rachel Lower
The most common search word at this site is "spanking". Guess what number two is? It is in the title of this article, and it is not 'Children' or 'and'. From as young as one year old children may masturbate regularly or go through a stage of 'it', and 'it' freaks parents out! Many parents will not even say the word out loud, so let us call it what my mom had, "playing with yourself".
"Stop playing with yourself!" The thing parents have to realize is that 'playing with oneself' at four is, unless the child has been sexually abused, far from what it means at seventeen. Young kids use masturbation in the same way they may suck their thumbs or bite people. Comfort. Release of tension. To cope with stress. Because it feels good. At four, the worst of the aforementioned coping mechanisms is biting. At least masturbation is not hurting someone else, except perhaps moms sanity.
What would you say if I said it was not wrong? Their is a verse in the Bible used to condemn it, but only taken out of context. At four, touching your privates is not about the "sin" that may be involved with a young adult or adult doing it. That is because they are not doing it to fantasize. They are not acting out of lust. I highly warn against reacting in any hyper or shaming / angry way to a child's masturbation.
Kids will do it in public. They don't sense anything to be ashamed of. If they start, tell them it is 'private'. At some point they should understand about 'private things'. It is much more complicated when the child is a two year old and can't really tell the p from the i. They don't know what a habit is. Do not fret though. It is unlikely to work, but you can try to offer a substitution, a cuddly stuffed animal or a reading ritual. At 4, 5, 6... Do not expose them or point it out to the masses when they are old enough to be embarrassed and humiliated.
The teenager you may catch masturbating would practically die if you approached him or her. It is more awkward than the 'bird and the bees' talk. The most I would recommend you do is foster biblical values and beliefs about sex, lust, temptation, purity, and ones body being the Holy Temple. The boy shouldn't be ashamed when he has his first wet dream and the girl shouldn't feel dirty if she has a steamy dream, but teens do need to learn how to deal with their new bodies and thoughts.
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