What to do when toddlers masturbate


My kid has been pleasuring herself with her blanket since she was a baby (3months). She has continued with this habit and is now 7. Her doctor and other parents on the web (from what I’ve read) say it’s normal as long as they do it in private. I don’t know how this falls in line with all the posts I’ve read on this website of how grave this sin is. (No she’s never been abused, no she has never seen anyone watching porn or adult content. She is only exposed to normal everyday life and school.) I talk to her constantly and have open communication with her only about how it’s a bad habit to have in general, and have tried my hardest to not make her feel too terrible about her urges. But wow, reading all the posts on here make me fear for her soul. Anyone out there have any advice on this?


I don’t think this is the place to bring such an issue up… You say you have advice from her doctor and that is who should be discussing this with you, as well as referring you to someone else. God bless you.


It is a normal behavior, in the sense that any bad habit is normal. But if she’s 7, she’s going to have to decide on her own to stop, and it isn’t appropriate to constantly monitor her. If she’s doing so publicly, I think it’s absolutely appropriate to have some kind of quiet reminder to tell her to stop that doesn’t embarrass her, since it’s probably absent minded and just a nervous self-soothing habit. Give her something else to do.

My boys have also all engaged in this to some degree. Making a big deal of it is likely to have the opposite effect of what you intend. With my oldest (also 7), I have talked to him some about proper respect for the body in a general way. There are some books geared toward preschool and early elementary children that are about being good to your body. They don’t reference inappropriate touching specifically, but they do help create an environment where you can talk openly about harder subjects.

Hopefully this is helpful to you!


I fear there are likely some physicians who may actually encourage this type of behavior in a 7-year-old (and beyond,) so you may wish to be aware of that possibility, especially if her doctor is not of the same religious background as you are. Our Lord’s blessings always to you and your family!


This is exactly the place to discuss this because the OP is concerned about the spiritual implications of this behavior in a young child. The fact is, there aren’t any. Most likely, children who rub themselves in their private areas are not “masturbating” as in intentionally stimulating themselves sexually. They are rubbing themselves in a sensitive area because they find it comforting. It’s the same sort of impulse as sucking a thumb or rubbing their hair until they have a bad spot. It’s only a medical issue if you suspect a rash or parasites. It’s only a spiritual issue if it progresses to actual masturbation where they are intentionally arousing themselves. What it is is a manners issue and a hygienic issue, and that’s the way I would approach it. We don’t rub our private areas in public because it’s rude and we don’t put our hands in our private areas because of germs. Most of the time when I’ve seen kindergarteners that still do this, I tell them to go to the bathroom immediately and wash their hands. They rarely argue because they don’t want me to have to tell the class where they’ve had their hands. When they get tired of washing their hands 57 times a day, the bad habit stops. The same method works with nose picking.


Redirect their attention.

Little Ryan begins to rub themselves, say “Hey, let’s play with this train” or “Hey, can you help me count the leaves on this limb?”

As your child gets older, you are always teaching them, every day, in every situation. The Church says that most children can be aware of sin at age 7, so, I would look at some respected Catholic teachers. Coleen Kelly Mast comes to mind.


Start with this one (aimed at 10 year olds, but, the foundation begins early):


This is an excellent book that helps through all of childhood through the teen years.



I have two young daughters, I never had this issue with them and if I did I certainly would not discuss it on an open forum. I think it has to be addressed but by a child psychologist. This child is not committing a sin for she is only 7 years of age. Secondly, there have been so many threads that began with sexual issues or issues against the Church. You find that the person has just joined, as this one did only a month ago, so I tread lightly for there is a pattern, especially when they do not respond to any posts. God bless you.


The threads only been open a few hours. Your attitude is exactly why this issue does need to be discussed. It needs to be made clear that for young children, rubbing private areas is not usually the same as masturbation. It’s a normal way for children to calm down and self-sooth. It’s not a sin and not because the child is too young to be morally culpable, but because their purpose in doing it is not to cause arousal or orgasm. Unless there are parasites or a rash involved, it isn’t a medical disorder. Unless there has been sexual abuse, it’s not a sign of a psychological disorder, and it should be handled calmly and logically as what it is, a gross habit that needs to be redirected to something appropriate. The OP needs to consistently interrupt and redirect the behavior and it will likely stop.


God bless you…:butterfly:


Thank you to those for responding with advice. At this point all I can continue to do is help her redirect the urge to do that. Most of the posts I found in this forum are about men’s problems with masturbation and confession: wash, rinse, repeat. But no one talks about this issue in kids. However, I think at some point all this exploring won’t just be exploring, and what I think I’m hearing in this thread from others is that once they find that this sort of stimulation results in release, then it will be a sin? I apologize to those of you who think it’s in appropriate for posting the question here, even though I’m just a “new” annoymous mother asking a question in this forum. I was directed to this website from a priest, so no need to respond with “go away” because the post makes you uncomfortable. And if I didn’t respond earlier it’s because I was asleep and just woke up. (Geez)


I once taught a young girl who liked to touch herself. Her mum sought advice from a professional who said to give her a toy / keyring to put in her pocket or clip on her clothes that she could rub instead. Many little boys touch themselves, but somehow people react more greatly when it is a girl doing it. You mention a blanket. Is there any way of substituting the blanket for something else? Try not to worry too much. I admire you for bringing the subject up, knowing that you may get some adverse reactions. As she is now 7, you can probably start to make her gently aware that she needs to stop her habit, ensuring that she doesn’t feel guilty or ashamed. She is an innocent child. God bless you and your family. x


With all due respect, priests normally warn people away from this website. I also do not understand why a priest would direct you here to ask questions about whether your child is committing a sin. A priest can answer that type of question much more competently than anyone on here.

Many people on the Internet, including myself, are suspicious when a new poster immediately starts with an emotionally charged and very private topic. We have had quite a few questionable posts about both sex and children’s issues. If you were able to get some helpful advice, fine, but don’t be getting upset that some people raised an eyebrow at the thread.


I can see a priest referring someone here for ideas for getting it to stop, but not for determining if it’s a sin. That’s obviously the priest’s job.


Thank you :slight_smile:

  1. A priest did not direct me here to ask if it was a sin. He directed me to a website (maybe this is the wrong one) to always ask questions. And it was not on this topic.
  2. I don’t consider my question emotionally charged. However, as a “first poster” I am getting a few judgemental responses. Perhaps you should reflect and pray for God to help you in your responses when someone seeks help.
  3. To everyone else, thank you for your prayers. I hope God guides me and helps me with this issue.


When mg kids were younger than 7 I told them not to do that and then quickly distracted them. When they got to an age of reason I told them why doing that isn’t appropriate.


Also SERIOUSLY and I know this is a bit graphic but if they are actually putting their hands down there they could possibly be getting worms from their backside, if they then put their hands in their mouths. This is how children keep getting cases of pin worms. So possibly if they are old enough to understand this that could be a way to make them stop. But the distraction is the best thing.


Pin worms can also be a cause of this behavior, so that’s something to rule out.


You will find any number of types who post on this forum. Many will try to be helpful, some offended, and others derogatory or judgmental. That’s the nature of an internet forum. Like St. Paul says in Scripture, “examine all things, keep that which is good.” If you are looking for 100 answers to your questions, all saying the same thing, you are in the wrong place. There has been good advice from some of the above posts, I hope you have found it helpful. And a post or two was accusatory about trolling. To be fair, there have been any number of trolls on CAF and it is a fair response from any of us who have been around a while. I don’t think trolling is the case with your question.

I have no children of my own, so I have nothing to really offer. My first opinion is that this is something little ones do when growing up and it will remedy itself with parental guidance and help from spiritual and medical professionals as to their advice.

Good luck,


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