Talking about masturbation is uncomfortable. However it’s common and natural for children to begin investigating their bodies at a young age, and this investigation may teach them about masturbation earlier than you may anticipate. After all, they might find out quickly that it is enjoyable, making them wonder what’s happening. And whether they can get that feeling again. It is, therefore, important for parents to be a step ahead.
For parents, having this conversation with their children can be challenging since they may need to know the best moment to do so or what questions to ask based on their age. In addition, they could be worried that by talking about it, their child may get inquisitive before they would otherwise. But it can also be a crucial time to teach your child about privacy and limits, just as it is critical to ensure that they have a shame-free awareness of their body. Unfortunately, many parents all over the world are struggling to initiate such conversations.
This article is about how to start the conversation and how to talk to our children about masturbation in a way that feels relatively comfortable for everyone because we know this can be a difficult issue to manage. This is one of a series of articles about ‘conversations’, including this one about talking about sex.
Why Is It Important to Talk About Masturbation?
Another aspect of discussing sex with your children is to talk to them about masturbation. You are talking with them about creating a healthy sexual identity personally rather than discussing how they interact sexually with others. Bringing up sensitive subjects like masturbation can help children experiencing puberty feel less guilty and ashamed about their changing bodies. What they are doing is not wrong or shameful.
It’s critical to discuss masturbation because:
- It allows them to realize that they are normal.
- It promotes bodily autonomy and knowledge of one’s body.
- It demonstrates to them your willingness to be open and vulnerable in challenging interactions.
- It is an example of how to approach mature subjects with inquiry and compassion.
You’ve started discussing these crucial limits to make further talks easier. It is likely to be the first conversation of this type that you may have. As such, those with your child about consent and sexting—will be simpler.
What Age Should You Have This Conversation?
Talking to your children about masturbation is crucial, according to therapists and relationship coaches. There isn’t a fixed age when children start to masturbate. Some babies and preschoolers start stroking their genitalia at an early age, and you should bring it up as soon as you detect it. Others by jokes in the playground when they are older. This discussion will largely depend on your child. And rather than focusing on a set age, experts encourage parents to lead with the fact that you, as the parent, are the one who knows your child the best and has the conversation when you think it will be most helpful.
Boys can’t masturbate to orgasm before puberty, as there is no sperm. They do it because they find it enjoyable, and others even to calm themselves. To remove their concentration from something that is worrying them. Most begin masturbating when they begin to experience erections and wet dreams. You will know when this happens as they become far more self-conscious about being naked in the bathroom with other family members.
Girls often find that touching the clitoris is enjoyable by accident as they dress or move their hands while washing or getting comfortable in bed.
Talking to your children about masturbation may get more uncomfortable as they become older. This is because as they age, most children become reticent and refuse to bring up the subject with their parents. Therefore mentioning it a bit younger than you think is necessary may make the conversation easier as it will be before they get too embarrassed.
There are claims that since you are normalizing masturbation at this age, there is no need to delve into detail. “Some people used to think it was immoral or unhealthy to masturbate, but of course, that’s not true,” is one example of what you could say to your older child. It is important to stress to them that they are not dirty or weird, but it is done in your own room’s privacy.
Tips for Talking to Your Child About Masturbation
We have more guidance here about how to have difficult conversations with your child. Recognize the awkwardness of the situation for both of you before explaining that your objective in talking to your child about masturbation is to promote all facets of healthy development, including physical, emotional, relational, and sexual development.
As mentioned above, so many parents in the world today are wondering how they will initiate the chat about masturbation with their child or children. Here are a few suggestions for discussing masturbation with your adolescent:
- Use Proper and Useful Self-Disclosure. If that’s your account, it’s acceptable to tell your child that your parents never brought up sex, masturbation, or other sexually related topics with you. Conversely, let them know if you ever felt guilty or humiliated about anything sexual. Let them know that all you’re trying to do is make this better or easier than it was for you.
- Instead of Waiting Until Later, Start the Conversation. To ensure that your children feel comfortable talking about their changing bodies before puberty, which occurs at younger and younger ages for children worldwide, you should start the masturbation conversation with them while they are younger, even before puberty.
- Keep It Complimentary. It is admirable that your youngster is discovering what makes them happy through what may be a challenging time like adolescence. Tell them you’re proud of them for pursuing what makes their body feel wonderful.
- Establish Boundaries. It’s a good idea to remind your teen of the limitations and social expectations that come with discovering one’s sexuality when conversing with them about masturbation. For example, there are some restrictions on this right to solitude and peaceful reflection, whether it be of the body or the intellect. This is a fantastic opportunity to talk to your teen about other life boundaries, such as whether or not they are interested in sexting or at ease with sex talk that may occur nearby. Masturbation is acceptable so long as it doesn’t interfere with other aspects of their life; this is an opportunity to teach or remind them about setting boundaries in various areas of their lives.
- Aim for Good Enough Rather than Perfection. Declare your lack of expertise on the subject and the awkwardness of the situation for both of you before starting the talk. By meeting people where they are, you are requesting that they do the same for you.
- Remain Curious. Ask your teen what they know about it, what they have seen, and what they have heard from friends before assuming that they are masturbating. They will feel free to share what they know and believe they know if you remain curious, enabling you to understand their requirements better and customize your responses accordingly.
- Inform Them That This Is a Continuation of the Conversation. In the Netherlands, for instance, discussing sex with children begins before sex is even a factor. The discussion of sexual practices, permission, and masturbation becomes a part of a larger national dialogue when children are taught about limits, agency, and relationships at an early age. Put the discussion of masturbation in the context of a much larger and ongoing dialogue.
- Emphasize Normalcy. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of masturbation to human sexual development. By examining what makes them feel good, you can reassure them that they are normal and not abnormal and that what they are doing is appropriate.
- Keep It Funny. When discussing masturbation with your teen, levity and comedy are your friends. Try to speak to your teen in their language, smile when you mess up (because you will), and be comedically exposed around them.
- Maintain Your Course. Your teen will likely avoid discussing masturbation with you. That is entirely to be anticipated, so do not be intimidated. It is their responsibility, not the parents, to want to talk to their friends about masturbation but stick with it and finish the conversation. They’ll be grateful to you in the future.
Although discussing masturbation with your teen can be difficult and uncomfortable, there are methods to make the topic fruitful and beneficial. Talking about masturbation with your teen can be the starting point for many crucial conversations that will cover the spectrum of your child’s sexual development if you remain open-minded, inquiring, and supportive of your child.
What NOT to Say During the Masturbation Chat
Anything that can make your child feel ashamed or convey your distaste toward them could prevent them from discussing sensitive subjects with you in the future and change their perception of sex as a filthy, shameful, or repulsive activity.
Avoid the following when speaking with your teen about masturbation:
- Using judgmental or shameful words can give children the impression that by investigating their bodies, adolescents are engaging in immoral, impure, or dirty behavior.
- Making light of something that can cause embarrassment, misunderstanding, or making fun of them. Nobody wants to be the target of an explicit joke about masturbation, especially a teenager.
- Putting an end to the talk because you feel uncomfortable or learn something that surprises you. You might need to work on your own attitudes around sex if you find yourself rushing to end the talk.
What To Do If You Walk In On Them?
Don’t panic if the dreaded moment occurs and you witness your youngster masturbating. Instead, do both you and your child a favor and take a deep breath to pause before reacting to your teen’s masturbation. Your reactions can have a lasting impact on how a teen perceives their own body’s responses to sexual excitement.
Do the following if you see your teen masturbating:
- Offer your sincere apologies for any privacy invasion, such as when you entered a room without first knocking. However, recognize that disregarding this spatial limit was a mistake.
- Consider any responses you may have to your child’s conduct and what they reveal about your attitudes regarding sex and masturbation. Do this during your own time and place.
- Tell them you want to talk with them about what happened at a time that works for them, but be sure to make it clear that this is not a choice they can make.
Who Ought to Lead the Conversation?
Given how sensitive the subject of masturbation is, the parent that the child may be closest to, or the youngster confides in most, is probably the one who should take the lead.
It’s crucial to note that while the youngster is free to speak with any parent they choose at any time, the family elected to keep the masturbation conversation private rather than open to the public out of respect for the teen’s right to privacy.
Final Thoughts on Talking to Your Child About Masturbation
This is not an enjoyable conversation to have. But you owe it to your children to have this conversation. If your relationship is built on trust and mutual respect this is easier and do not be judgemental. Be honest with yourself about your behavior. Although it isn’t, in my opinion, a conversation for around the dinner table, it is something that, with humor, can be done.