Category: Masturbation

My Body is a Gift Discussions: Pages 24-27

These pages are a key part of this book.  All children are exposed to things.  Many children have things happen to them.  Most children don’t talk to their parents.  Why?  They feel fear, shame, and have no idea how the conversation is going to go.   These pages tell children exactly how that safe conversation is going to go and set it all up ahead of time so children know exactly what to expect.  This is done by simultaneously teaching both children and parents what to do.  Children then know how to approach their parents, and their parents know how to respond in a way that will invite safety and reduce shame and fear.  Because the point of the book is to initiate and continue conversations about healthy sexuality, creating a safe space to have those discussions is paramount and that takes work on both sides of the relationship.

  • Have I ever reacted in a way that was not like this?  Yes?  I was pretty sure I had.  (This may be a reaction to a completely unrelated topic that inadvertently made your child feel like they couldn’t always share).  Remember how the book said that making mistakes and fixing them is a part of figuring things out?  Did you know that parents still make mistakes too?  I’m sorry for reacting in a way that made you feel like you didn’t want to share hard things.  I’m learning how to be better while I’m reading this book with you, and I’m going to try to be like the book says all the time, so you can always feel like you can share with me.  I do always love you, even when you make mistakes.  And do you know what?  You can help me out.  If I ever react in a way that doesn’t feel comfortable, or makes you feel bad, will you tell me?  Then I can change right in that moment and be the way you need me to be.  (In full disclosure, I’ve also needed to have these discussions with my kids, so we are all imperfect and feeling this out.  And from personal experience, this invitation will quickly cover many more areas than discussions of healthy sexuality, so be prepared to be called on unhealthy parenting reactions across the board!)
  • When you have something hard to talk to me about, will you be brave and talk to me anyway?  What will you do to get up your courage and be brave?
  • Did you know that I love you no matter what?  Did you know that one of the times I love you the most is when you come talk to me when you’ve made a mistake?  It’s because you have to make mistakes to learn and grow, and I’m proud of you for learning and growing up!
  • Did you know that I love you no matter what? Did you know that one of the times I love you the most is when you come talk to me when you’re nervous or uncomfortable.  It makes my heart so happy to see what a big boy/girl you are when you choose to be brave.
  • It makes me feel so close to you when you come to me so that I can help you figure things out.  How do you feel when we figure things out together as a team?
  • You may have a discussion with your child about a specific phrase or word they could say that could alert you to a conversation they want to have that they feel uncomfortable about, or nervous about your reaction toward.  This can alert you to putting yourself in a safety-creating frame of mind, and help you if you need to reschedule the conversation for any reason (you’re late to get your preschooler, or your teenager just backed the car into the mailbox, your boss is chewing you out on the phone, etc).  You can reschedule, prioritize, and have the conversation in a way that helps your child know they are loved and will be heard.  Normally I encourage parents not to associate talks about healthy sexuality with a special set aside time (sending the message instead that these topics can be discussed at any time), but uncomfortable disclosures often need to feel safe and private, so some of these phrases reflect that space.  Phrases/words can be whatever the two of you come up with:
    • I’m having a hard time.
    • Can we have a chat?
    • Will you love me no matter what? (This invites the safe space)
    • Can we have a special time?


Things you may choose to say to your child when they come to you:

  • Thank you so much for coming to me to talk about this.  It makes me feel good that you love and trust me with your questions/worries/concerns.
  • Do you feel nervous or worried?  Wow—I’m so proud of you for being brave and talking to me anyway.
  • You are being a rockstar at learning and growing up right now.
  • Did you make a mistake?  Sounds like you’re learning and growing up—that means you’re half-way there!  Now all we need to do is figure out the fixing it part.  We can work on that together.  What do you think would be best?
  • I love that you talk to me!
  • We are a good team.  I’m glad you picked me to be on your team with you.
  • How did [the situation] make you feel?  (Feelings and intuition are a great protection.  Teach your child not to discount their feelings.  Sharing your own feelings can be helpful.  Remember they might have felt “good” and also shame/fear, etc. Help them pull those feelings apart and identify why they felt each.  Additionally, if a difficult situation has occurred, remember that children often share information little by little as they feel safe.)

Masturbation/Self-Stimulation and Chocolate Cake

**One of the most frequently asked questions I get revolves around masturbation, or young children who have explored their body and now have a habit of stimulating themselves.  These parents believe that masturbation and habitual self-stimulation is not a form of healthy sexuality.  All parents are entitled to their own beliefs, and while I agree, if you do not, feel free to skip this post.**

While there is much to discuss on this topic, today’s questions is:

How do I explain that habitual self-stimulation is not a part of healthy sexuality when my young child says “it feels good?”

I like using analogies to help young children understand complex or difficult topics.  Self-stimulation can seem tricky, since with young children they are not masturbating or arousing themselves sexually, but it does feel good.  Help your child consider that sometimes things that are not okay may still seem fun, or feel good.  It may be helpful to talk about picking your nose, or stealing and eating a chocolate cake.

“What if someone thought it was super fun to pick their nose and it tasted super yummy to eat their boogers?  Would that make it okay, just because they liked it?  No.  How about stealing and eating a chocolate cake?  Is that okay?  No.  But what if it tasted amazing and you really wanted to, is it okay then?  No.  You’re right.  Some things may seem fun or feel good, but just because we think they are doesn’t mean that it’s okay to do.

God gave us our bodies as a special gift and He wants us to use our bodies in the way He has designed them to be used.  It feels good to touch yourself there (your vulva/penis) because your body is preparing to be a good husband/wife and father/mother.  That is the time God has designed those special parts of our body to be used.  [If the child is very young and you have not explained the process of sex yet:  When you get older we will teach you more about this.]  So even if it feels good, it is important to do what God asks—which is to save those feelings for later/marriage—because He is the one who gave us our bodies and teaches us about taking care of them.”

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