Teens Masturbation: What You Should Know as a Parent

Teens Masturbation

Teens Masturbation is globally seen as an aspect of teens’ sexuality that most guardians often find very hard to comfortably and appropriately relate to.

Part of the difficulty may be due to parents’ inability to acknowledge that their children are sexual beings as well.

The misunderstandings are often the problem generated by parents and teens as regards teens masturbation.

Teens masturbation is seen as a kid’s self-stimulation of the genitals. It is usually carried out by both boys and girls and is seen as a normal attitude. Masturbation is quite common in children up to the ages of six and seven.

Kids are usually very curious about their bodies and find masturbation interesting and desirable.

Young kids are usually very curious about the differences between girls and boys, and thus in the preschool and kindergarten years they may oc­casionally explore each other’s body, including their genitals.

Teens Masturbation in the public spheres tends to reduce largely from the age of six upward because children’s social awareness increases and social mores as­sume greater relevance.

However, teens masturbation will continue to some ex­tent and remains normal in the private.

But when pubertal development begins sexual hormones, thoughts, and curiosity body awareness and sexual tensions will begin to increase.

Masturbation is a common aspect of the normal adolescence stage.

Some teens growing up discover that masturbation is sexually pleasing and consider that self-stimulation is an expression of their own breeding sexuality.

However, when parents of teens children find their kid masturbate, some react with embarrassment, anger, and even moral out­rage; others take it in stride and recognize it as developmentally normal be­havior.

Ideally, this discovery provides a wonderful opportunity for teaching children about their own sexuality and about the differences between public and private.

Things to do when you catch your child (teen) masturbating.

It is not unusual for physicians to hear this question from worried parents.

However, masturbation is a part of the normal human sexual experience, and children find it pleasurable.

Assuming it is not excessive (not interfering with nor­mal routines, responsibilities, or play), elimination of masturbation may not be desirable.

Nevertheless, ensure your child understands that masturbation, like many other things, is a private activity, not a public one.

If you observe him touching his genitals in a public place, you might say, “It is not appro­priate for you to be touching your penis [or vagina] here.

It should only be done in your room’s privacy when no one is with you.” As you discuss masturbation with your child, do not label it as bad, dirty, evil, or sinful.

This will create a sense of guilt and secrecy that may be un­healthy for his sexual development.

In certain situations, children should receive an evaluation by a behavioral pediatrician, child psychiatrist, or psychologist.

These include:

  • Frequent excessive daily masturbation, both at home and in public.
  • Public masturbation that continues even after you have talked about it with your child.
  • Masturbation that takes place in conjunction with other symptoms of be­havioral or emotional difficulty, including social isolation, aggression, destructiveness, sadness, withdrawal, bed-wetting, or soiling (encopresis).
  • Inappropriate sexual talk or other sexual activity.

It is important for some teens to feel that they can come to you with any questions.

Talking to your child about masturbation may feel a little awkward, embarrassing or even deeply uncomfortable. But these are necessary conversations for parents who want to raise kids with a healthy understanding of sex and their bodies.

“Masturbation is a really important part of human sexuality, it informs our individual conceptions of autonomy, pleasure, identity, and intimacy.

Sex education teacher Kim Cavill told HuffPost, “trying to discourage, shame or eliminate masturbation does young people a tremendous disservice, instead of seeing it as a problem to solve, think of it as an opportunity to teach skills and concepts that empower young people to grow into sexually healthy adults.”

To help inform these conversations, HuffPost spoke to Cavill and two other sex educators about the best ways to talk to kids about masturbation, or self-touching. Here are their expert-backed guidelines and tips for parents and caregivers to keep in mind.

Start Early

Parents can lay the foundation for their children’s understanding of their bodies by fostering open discussions from a young age. These talks can encompass a number of topics, including masturbation.

“As with all conversations about sexuality, it should be something that is addressed early and in gradual stages, not one big talk,” sex educator Lydia M. Bowers said. “We should also be talking about pleasure in nonsexual ways ― ‘I like how the wind feels on my face,’ ‘The color purple makes me feel happy’ ― so children develop both language and the knowledge that feeling good is not something to be ashamed of.”

Cavill recommended talking to children about self-touching before the onset of puberty, which typically starts at the age of 9 to 16 years. For many parents, the conversation arises much earlier on because their children start to explore their bodies at a very young age.

“Though we associate masturbation most commonly with teenagers, infantile masturbation is also very common for children between the ages of 1 to 5,” said Cavill. Many small children touch their genitals as a form of self-soothing, much like thumb sucking.

This behavior is prompted not by erotic thoughts but by the fact that touching those areas simply feels good due to the large number of nerve endings.

“Masturbation at any age is not dirty, shameful or illicit,” Cavill said. “In fact, it is a perfectly normal and healthy behavior for people to engage in.”

Emphasize that it is Normal

Teens Masturbation

It is crucial for parents and caregivers to normalize masturbation by talking about it in a shame-free way, particularly if their child has already started exploring self-touch.

“Disgust, scolding and rejection do not help children learn lessons and, in fact, can grow into internalized shame and self-loathing later in life,” said Cavill.  Communicating acceptance is simple and sounds like this: ‘I see you are touching your penis/vulva/anus.’ That feels good, doesn’t it? Touching those body parts feels really different than touching other parts, like elbows or knees. I am glad you are getting to know your body, because bodies are really cool.’

It is also perfectly normal if a child or teen does not masturbate. Either way, opening up talks promotes a more positive understanding of self-touch, which can be beneficial for children as they get to know their bodies. These conversations can also be opportunities to discuss hygiene, the proper terms for genitals and how to address unsafe touch.

“When children are free to explore their own bodies, they develop a self-awareness that can keep them safer and more prepared to recognize unsafe touch if it ever occurs,” sex educator Melissa Carnagey explained. “When young people are more informed and confident about their bodies, they are better positioned to advocate for consensual, safer and more pleasurable sex as an adult.”

Teens should be made to know that it is a private issue

After parents have communicated that self-touch is normal and natural, they can establish that it is also private. This is particularly important for young children, who may rub against objects like pillows, furniture, or toys.

Masturbation can be seen as to release a sexual tension or other tension.

“You can define privacy as something or somewhere other people can not see and public as something or somewhere other people can see,” Cavill said. “Teaching privacy sounds like this: ‘I am so glad you are enjoying your body by touching your penis/vulva/anus. That is usually something people do in private, or in a space other people cannot see,’ then offer to take the child to their nearest private space and say, ‘Here is a private space for you to touch your penis/vulva/anus. You can be private in here anytime you want.’

For families who use augmentative and alternative communication because of disabilities or other factors, Cavill noted that picture symbols labeling public and private areas of the house can express these concepts as well.

Young children do not always have the strongest awareness of what is happening around them, so it is up to parents to use reminders and gentle redirection to note when and where self-touching is appropriate.

Bowers and Carnagey suggested statements like “I know touching your body feels good. Since your penis is one of your private parts, that is something to do in private in your room instead of at the dinner table.” Or simply “Hands out of your pants while we are in public.”

Use books and videos

There are many helpful resources that promote a healthy understanding of masturbation. Bowers, Carnagey and Cavill are fans of Amaze, which produces educational videos like “Masturbation: Totally Normal.”

Carnagey recommends books like Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts by Gail Saltz, It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris and What’s the Big Secret? Talking About Sex with Girls and Boys by Laurie Krasny Brown.

Her Sex Positive Families reading list features over 100 books for children and parents to support sexual health talks, and she also likes the American Academy of Pediatrics’ child development resource at healthychildren.org.

Avoid over disturbing yourself

It is common for parents to have concerns about how often their children are touching themselves. Cavill said that it is only an issue if masturbation is causing bodily harm or interfering with daily life.

“If someone avoids school, activities, eating food and other aspects of day-to-day life in order to masturbate or repeatedly injures themselves, then it is time to seek support from a professional, like a doctor or therapist,” she advised. “If masturbation is not interfering with daily life, is not causing injury and is done in private, then it is not happening too often.”

If it is interfering with daily life, Bowers suggested addressing the concern with your child in a shame-free way. “Acknowledge that bodies feel good but that things like homework, chores and even hanging out with friends should not be neglected,” she said. “Can masturbation happen during a daily shower? Before bed?”

Additionally, parents sometimes worry that masturbation may be a sign of sexual abuse. “Unless there are other concerns or red flags involved, it is often not a cause,” Carnagey said. “Parents should follow up with the child’s pediatrician if they ever feel concerned about their child’s sexual health or behaviors.”

Parents may need to confront their upbringing and feelings about masturbation in order to have healthy conversations with their children.

Put your shame aside as a parent

Having parents or caregivers who speak openly about topics like masturbation and make it clear that no question is off-limits helps children stay safe and informed when it comes to their sexual health.

For many parents, fostering this kind of environment requires some self-reflection.

“It is important to think about how our feelings about masturbation are affecting our responses to our children. Many of us grew up without conversations about masturbation, so they are uncomfortable to have with our children. For some with religious backgrounds, there is a level of shame when we talk about touching genitals,” Bowers explained. “Taking a moment to evaluate our own feelings allows us to acknowledge them, then decide what messages we want to share with our children instead.”

Cavill emphasized the importance of seeking help as a parent if you have internalized shame or experienced trauma that makes it difficult to communicate acceptance in conversations with children about masturbation. Working through these issues will benefit everyone in the family.

“Many of us bring shame to this conversation because of the way we were raised, because of past experiences, our relationships with our own bodies, or because of trauma,” said Cavill. “Those feelings can make talking about this in a shame-free way seem almost impossible, but we do not have to suffer those feelings in silence.”

“We as parents, deserve support,” she continued. “Parenting is a really hard job, and kids have a way of forcing us to confront the parts of ourselves we would rather ignore.

We need to give ourselves permission to seek help when we need it, to know that we do not have to have all the answers, and we do not have to do this alone.


Masturbation can help release sexual tension or other tensions that may arises, so it is perfectly normal for a teen to masturbate. People see it as abnormal because it goes against their belief of their religion.

So as a Christian, if you are struggling with masturbation, you should have it at the back of your mind that God has created you to experience sexual fulfillment at a higher level know to be marriage.

But note that masturbation does not cause any harm, that is, it is totally harmless (no stunt growth, disorders in the body, no STD). It does not even affect your ability to give birth in the future.


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