Talking Masturbation with Your Kids 3 Top Guidelines

Posted in   Dr. Lanae   on  May 18, 2018 by  Lanae minutes remaining

This post might freak some people out. Masturbation isn’t evil. Talking Masturbation, and it doesn’t make your child perverted. After all, if you touch yourself behind closed doors, what would that make you?

There used to be a joke that 98% of people masturbate …and the other 2% are lying. For the most current survey results on this topic, check out TENGA’s worldwide study. Lots of people masturbate. If you’re perfectly honest, you probably masturbate too.

Masturbation doesn’t make a child evil, dirty, or weird. Despite ancient tales, they won’t get hairy palms or go blind either. But your child needs to be aware of what’s true and false.

I want to preface this post by encouraging you to evaluate this topic through a different set of lenses. Forgive me for sounding like a broken record. But it’s important to reiterate the facts. Adults sexualize specific acts and behaviors. It’s easy to make this leap because we’re aware of the function, stimulation, and pleasure behind it.

But kids have no clue. A four-year-old with his hand shoved down his pants doesn’t know a thing about orgasm and ejaculation. All he knows is something feels good to him, and he wants to continue the experience.

This post has nothing to do with teaching kids how to masturbate. They’ll figure that out on their own. We’re simply going to examine the best ways to keep your child safe, aware, and shameless in the process.


While making yourself available for your child’s questions is a great practice, masturbation isn’t an essential topic you need to cover. Just be there to support them if they have questions or concerns.

Please keep in mind that every child is different. Your current skill level surrounding the discussion of sex and sexuality will determine the level of comfort you feel when tackling this subject.

#1 Give Your Child Permission to Explore Their Body #Talking Masturbation

Many adults don’t think it’s okay for a child to touch themselves. If they see their hand going down under, they instantly slap it away and tell them never to do it again.


That’s traumatizing for a child. Hell, it’s traumatizing for adults.

Children need to feel safe and secure. Insisting that their behavior is evil has the potential to stifle their sexuality for future years.

By nature, kids are curious. They yearn for discovery. That includes exploring their bodies. And why shouldn’t they? If they feel a sense of ownership of their body, they may not be okay with others touching it. We know “it’s mine!” is a favorite phrase of little ones. This is one aspect where I’m totally okay with my kids not letting others disturb what’s theirs. Talking Masturbation.

Not only is this practice okay… It’s healthy. Adults can learn a lot from kids when it comes to getting comfortable with understanding and exploring one’s own body.

Quick Tips

  • Use appropriate names when referring to your child’s body parts – learn them if you need a refresher
  • Get comfortable saying words like vulva, penis, labia, scrotum
  • The amount of information you share depends on your child’s level of maturity

Ages and Stages

I’m aware that many sex educators focus on the ages and stages model.

  • By age (X) you should have the talk
  • By age (Y) you go more in-depth here
  • By age (Z) it’s okay to discuss this

Sorry to disappoint but I believe it’s near impossible because every child is different.

Think back to your puberty years. Maybe you developed early, or perhaps you were a late bloomer. No matter which side of the spectrum you were on, I’m sure your classmates were going through the same thing too.

Some twelve-year-old boys might’ve had the deep baritone voice. And some girls might’ve gotten their period at nine (I got mine once at 16 years old and then not again until college. Look at that ridiculously huge range for first periods – and know it’s all normal).

Then there were those kids that didn’t develop at all until their late teens. Biology is unique that way. The same holds true for a child’s psychology and interest surrounding the topic of sex and sexuality.

I knew of one girl who started masturbating at the age of 10. She was very inquisitive about her body and sexuality. She wanted answers about sexual function. Indeed, she was mature for her age.

When she discovered she would learn Sex Ed in school, she was thrilled. This class was her opportunity to finally get answers to her relevant questions!

Unfortunately, she was deeply disappointed by the lack of information shared. She had valid questions like “how do you know when you’re ready to have sex” but the class just got told not to have sex “because you’re going to end up pregnant.” She had valid questions and didn’t get any of them answered. Talking Masturbation. Guess where she went after that. Yep, the internet. I can’t get mad at a kid for using the resources available to them. Even when those resources can be awful. And especially when parents can’t.

My point is you can never predict the outcome when it comes to something as personal as sexuality. That’s why it’s vital for you to communicate with your child often. Maintain an open dialogue and safe environment when it comes to the topic of sex. It’ll make discussing topics like masturbation so much easier.

Trust me. I’m not blowing smoke here. I can recall the first time I spoke to my daughters about masturbation. They were 3 and 5. It all stemmed from an argument I had with my mother. Talking Masturbation. My daughters were seated in the back of the car as my mom and I debated the topic.

Mom is a devoted Catholic. She comes from the camp that believes only nasty girls touch themselves. If you’ve been reading this blog, I’m sure you’re familiar with my position on such topics. 😉

But just in case you’re a newbie, I’ll share my thoughts.

In no uncertain terms, I told my mom that there was absolutely nothing wrong with kids touching themselves. It’s merely a part of self-exploration. I’m a fierce advocate for humans exploring and understanding their bodies.

You can’t communicate your likes and dislikes to a partner if you haven’t even explored your own body. Believe it or not… That journey typically begins at an early age. Children should be given the freedom to self-examine if and when they desire.

That night I had a brief heart-to-heart with my girls as I tucked them in for bed. I told them that I was sure they heard grandma and me arguing in the car. I went on to explain that grandma didn’t think it was okay for them to touch their vulva. But I told them that I thought it was just fine.

I took it a step further by informing them that a lot of people in the world didn’t think it was okay for kids to touch their bodies. I communicated that it makes a lot of people angry and uncomfortable. But I made it crystal clear that it was okay to explore their bodies as long as they did so in private.

Some Educators Would Disagree with My Approach #Talking Masturbation

My candid speech might not sit well with a lot of conservative educators. For starters, it doesn’t follow the ages and stages model. Talking Masturbation. One might question what parents would discuss masturbation with their children at such young ages.

My Response

An honest parent!

I’ve vowed to always tell my daughters the truth. I’ll never dumb something down because I’m afraid of being honest with them. They deserve my honesty and respect. That goes for matters concerning sex, sexuality, and relationships too. My willingness to be transparent with my girls makes it easy to have any conversations with them.

That’s the type of environment I want to create with my children. Help your kids feel safe to discuss sensitive matters with you. Permit them to explore their bodies.

For other great tips on discussing masturbation with your tween or teen, check out

#2 Promote Privacy When Your Child is Ready for Solo Sexual Intimacy

Now that we understand it’s okay for kids to touch their genitals… Let’s examine best practices for those intimate moments.

Imagine your 4-year-old is sitting on the living room couch with his hand in his pants. Maybe siblings are in the room.

As mentioned earlier… Slapping his hand away and shaming him is the wrong approach. Try the following method instead.

Politely get his attention and use a variation of this phrase:

“I understand it feels good to touch your penis. I’m glad you’re getting to know your body. Talking Masturbation. But that’s something you’ll want to do in the privacy of your room, not out here in the living room.”

This does a few things:

  • It empowers your child to feel safe and understood
  • He or she doesn’t fear they’ve done something wrong
  • It prevents shaming
  • You give them the freedom to explore their sexuality
  • It sets the stage for healthy adult sexuality in the future

Encouraging Privacy for Solo Sexual Intimacy Crafts the Framework for Those Teenage Years

Many teens enjoy masturbating. It’s how they discover if they like something or not. But the last thing they want to worry about is their parent barging in the room and catching them. If the privacy conversation has already been covered, they have nothing to fear.

A few weeks ago, I received a box of clitoral stimulators from a distributor. Inside, a small beautifully decorated box was specifically addressed to me. Talking Masturbation. My oldest daughter walked into the room and asked what was in the box. I told her and gave her permission to let me know if she wants one.

She shrugged and showed no interest. But that may have been her game face. Time will tell if she wants one of her own.

Letting Your Child Know Masturbation is Normal is a Win/Win for Parents and Kids

Being honest with your kids about sensitive topics like masturbation prevents them from seeking answers from outside influences. They won’t feel the urge to surf the net or consult peers for such advice.

#3 Recommend Best Hygienic Practices When Masturbating

I’m sure this isn’t something you’re excited to discuss with your child. But if the conversation arises, you’ll want to give them tips for staying safe and clean when engaging in self-exploration.

Tip 1 Keep Your Hands Clean

This one may seem like a no-brainer. But remember kids are kids. Cleaning their hands before touching their penis or vagina may not even cross their mind. Politely remind them that washing their hands before masturbating prevents germs from spreading.

Tip 2 Keep Your Nails Clean and Trimmed

This is an extension of maintaining clean hands. You wouldn’t want your child to scratch or injure him or herself in any way.

Tip 3 Introduce Your Child to Lube

Again, I know this one may be a bit uncomfortable for you. Depending on your relationship, maybe it’ll just require a nod and pointing to the bottle.


You may have to go into a little more detail. Either way, this is very important.

Remember, if they don’t learn about this stuff from you… Where are they learning about it? You may need help working through your sexual discomfort if you want to educate your child.

I personally recommend using lubrication like Uberlube.

Not only is this lubrication great for sexual pleasure, but it has multiple uses too.

  • Oiling anything that is stuck or squeaking (locks, door hinges, bike chains, etc.)
  • Runners can use it to prevent chafing of nipples, inner thighs, or other areas that rub on distance runs
  • Preventing blisters in new shoes

Maybe you can leave a bottle on your child’s bedroom nightstand. Explain its function along with the importance of preventing chafing. You may also want to point out lube alternatives to avoid with ingredients that aren’t body-safe.

Final Thoughts

Remember masturbation is a natural part of development. Your child will likely do it at some point. So, don’t freak out if you discover they’re engaging in solo intimacy. It isn’t necessary for you to mention the topic of masturbation. Adults do NOT need to intervene or direct, they don’t even need to encourage masturbation. Just acknowledge it as healthy behavior. Talking Masturbation. Be present for any questions or concerns your child may have.

If you want help, I do coaching on this. Let’s talk.



p.s., parents, for you I have a treat. Take advantage of TENGA’s Masturbation May sale10% off site-wide throughout May + free shipping with an extra 10% off using coupon code TENGA2018. Try the Original CUP, EGGS, 3-D SPIRAL, and FLIP ZERO with a partner or solo!

About the Author Lanae

Dr. Lanae St.John is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and certified sex coach with a background in sexology and a passion for helping people improve their sexual health and relationships. She is the author of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"" and the upcoming "You Are the One: How stopping the search and looking inside will lead you to your romantic destiny," and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. Dr. St.John aims to share her knowledge and expertise in a relatable and approachable way through her blog on

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