When Kids and Teens Touch Themselves: Is It Normal?

When we catch our kids or teens masturbating or touching themselves, we tend to freak out. But it might be better to tackle it calmly.

It looks scandalous but when a teen or kid touches themselves, it’s actually their way of exploring and understanding their bodies. Masturbation became increasingly scandalous as many of us who grew up with an intense religious background consider it a sin. But it’s more than just that. In order to understand masturbation and why our kids touch themselves, we need to explore how their brain is currently developing.

Masturbation: “It’s rude and disgusting!”

For many, it is. And with valid reasons. Physicians deemed masturbation to be the root of a lot of problems for years. Some even considered it to be the root of marital issues. Even ones who delved into sexuality like Freud found it problematic at first. However, he soon discovered that the shame and guilt people added to the act of masturbation affected a person’s connection with their sexual identity and gender. And that early masturbation helped teens and kids understand themselves as sexual beings.

How can we understand masturbation?

Understanding masturbation and why kids and teens do it first needs us to accept Sigmund Freud‘s initial premise that “humans are sexual beings”. While many think that sexual feelings are confined only to the genitalia, Freud argues that it covers everything: all parts of the body and mind. We’re aware of certain hormones like adrenaline and endorphins which our body releases when we’re excited regardless if it’s sexual or not.

As our kids grow, they will also notice the changes in their bodies. They’ll notice the difference between the sexes and will, of course, explore. Moreover, Freud describes this as the Phallic Stage where sexual identities are often explored. It usually hits around 9 to 12 years old.

What happens when we do catch our kids or teens masturbating?

In the event that we catch our kids or teens masturbating or even exploring porn, the best thing we can do is keep calm. It’s very tempting to give into reactions but the last thing we need to do is freak out.

1. If we do catch them, don’t confront them just yet.

We’re quick to jump into situations when something is wrong with our kids or teens. But our reactions and responses may not be the right ones. Settle down first. Grab the reins on your emotions and take deep breaths. Deal with all the questions later. But if there is one realization we need to accept: our kids or teens are growing up.

2. Once calmed down, approach with caution.

Sometimes, your teens might not know that you know. Play the role of the unknowing until getting into the area. Usually, one way to break the ice is to comment on the kind of porn they’re watching or a simple “Is everything okay?”. It will show a level of empathy.

3. If they start getting defensive, respond with: “It’s part of it.”

That’s because masturbation is a part of their development. And often, one of the reasons why kids and teens learn about malice, shame, and guilt is because of us, their parents. By consciously saying “It’s a part of it”, we also try to convince ourselves that this is part of their growing up. Eventually, repeating that said statement makes the situation a lot easier to deal with.

4. Open the floor to any topics about sex.

They’ll eventually find it somewhere. If not porn, maybe from some form of fanfiction or deep-fake found on the internet. It’s better that it comes from us because coupled with some experience, we can at least tell them which parts are true and which ones are exaggerated.

5. Admit it’ll be hard watching them grow up but you love them anyway.

The majority of our fights with our kids are because we hate the idea that they’re growing up. A large chunk of us wants them to stay the innocent, little kids who would ask us for ice cream after dinner. But our kids will eventually turn into teens and then adults. It’s hard to accept but all the more that we need to. Because as they explore, they need our love.

6. The ‘Clean Up After Yourself’ Rule

We are not their maids or yayas, so we will not clean up after them. If our kids or teens are going to do it, they clean up after themselves.

Masturbation is a part of their growing up.

A lot of our fear and shame come from our hesitance to accept that our kids and teens are growing up. It’s why we rarely talk about sex, porn, and masturbation around our children. A part of us wants to preserve that innocence a little longer and protect them. But trust us when we say that they already most likely found some part of it on the internet.

Terrified about certain topics? Here’s how to talk about it!

In Dr. Rica Cruz’s Household Everybody Talks About Sex
How To Talk To Kids About Sex Without Being Awkward
What Should You Do When You See Your Kids Watching Porn?

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