Masturbation is a
mix of self-abuse and self-pleasure for lonely and insecure older children. Due to parental negligence or poor upbringing,
children craving for attention find solace in masturbation. To know how to deal
with and prevent such behaviour in children, read on.
Children masturbate for the
same reason that adults do – it gives them pleasure. For parents, masturbation
can be one of the most embarrassing aspects of raising children. Parents may
struggle with emotional upheavals as they find it hard to believe that their
innocent little child is indulging in such behaviour. More often than not,
parents are privy to wrong or incomplete information regarding masturbation,
owing to its taboo nature, and believe it to be harmful to the sexual
development of the child. It is important to note that masturbation is a
completely normal behavioural characteristic. It causes no harm to their
physical or sexual development. It causes no harm to your child unless it is
done to an extreme.
Masturbation in Toddlers
Toddlers are just
developing. They have just begun to walk, run, skip, play, etc. Their minds are
agile and curious. They look around the world with wide, inspective eyes; eager
to know and learn all that they can about the world surrounding them. That
makes many of them as curious about their genitals as they are about their
fingers, your hair and nose, etc. When you start making your toddler wear
underwear in place of diapers, many of them find access to their genitals for
the first time. They may touch their private parts out of curiosity and realise
that it feels good. Many toddlers may unknowingly masturbate themselves until
they get an orgasm! Despite that, masturbation in toddlers is completely
asexual as they are too young to understand what sex is.
What to do if your Toddler is Masturbating?
Masturbation is absolutely
normal behaviour and has no physical or mental side-effects unless done
excessively. Masturbation, so early in their lives, does not indicate that your
children are obsessed with sex or are going to become sex maniacs in the
future. If, however, your child has been taught that masturbation is bad, he
will definitely fear being caught with his pants down and brought to shame.
This fear could lead to an extreme state of anxiety that would require proper
counselling and therapy.
Studies have shown that
parents would do well to ignore masturbation in very young kids. You are
advised to not make a big deal out of your child’s tendency to masturbate as
that would only serve to make him more conscious of what he is doing. It would
also make him feel unnecessarily guilty of something that comes very naturally
at that age. According to the dictionary, masturbation is self-abuse. And no
very small child would indulge in self-abuse. If he is made to feel conscious
that he is doing something very wrong, it would only make him more aware of it
and then result in a need to derive pleasure in this way. But if this tendency
is ignored, the child might grow out of it quite naturally and would not suffer
from feelings of guilt.
Extreme Masturbation in Older Children is a Behavioural Disorder
In the case of an older
child, if masturbation is taken to an extreme degree and the child tries to
derive pleasure by stimulating his sexual organs excessively, it indicates a behavioural
disorder that may lead to stunted sexual development
and would interfere with his sexual life in the future. An older child may
resort to excessive masturbation as a means of deriving self-pleasure if he has
been mistreated or ignored. Reasons why an older child may resort to excessive
masturbation are listed below:
Lack of Parental Attention
This kind of behavioural
disorder generally affects those who come from broken homes and are totally
neglected by their parents who have absolutely no time for them. These children
are not only very insecure but crave any kind of attention or company. If they
do not get it from others, they give it to themselves. And if it gives them
pleasure, as masturbation most certainly does, it becomes a habit disorder and
is most difficult to give up. The child tends to get entirely lost in this
pleasure seeking activity and some even seem to enjoy it without any shame or
fear. It is only after he is totally immersed in this activity and it begins to
interfere with the rest of his life that it comes to the notice of his parents.
And this is when the fear or anxiety syndrome starts.
Sexual Abuse by Family Members
In some cases it is poor
housing facilities combined with inadequate sleeping arrangements that provide
plenty of opportunity for child abuse. And in some it is the older child who
seeks pleasure by defiling the innocence of the younger one. Or sometimes it
could be a totally frustrated older relative who is starved for any kind of
entertainment or pleasure seeking activity. Once the child is introduced to the
stimulation of physical excitement it is very difficult for him to give it up
and if he cannot get it from anyone else, he will give it to himself. But
parents of the upper stratus of society must not relax their guard as you can
find frustrated, deviant relatives anywhere. Nor should you leave your child
totally in the care of the servants because you never know what they are up to
behind your back. So once again it all comes back to parental negligence which
is the root cause of all problems.
Loneliness and Limited Social Interactions
In a normal household, with
the correct sort of upbringing, no healthy child would just take to this kind
of disorder without any cause. It is only if he or she is very lonely and does
not have friends or siblings to play
with and no entertainment or pleasure seeking activity to participate in, do
such problems arise. However, if parents spend quality time with the child and
share a healthy rapport with the child, then it ensures that the child has good
social interactions and participates in games and sports and other constructive
activities. Thus he will find no compulsion or urge to derive pleasure from any
such kinds of deviant behaviours.
How to deal with Masturbation in an Older Child?
Parents can reassure their
child that they love him by spending time with him and making more of an effort
to create a meaningful bond with him. Parents can also use diversion into other
activities to make it a passing phase. They can encourage their child to
participate in more social situations and teach him to interact with different
people. Encourage your child to talk about his fears and
hopes and dreams. Not only will this help cement your bond with your child, but
will also ensure that your child will come to you in case of any form of abuse.
Propagate your child’s
self-esteem by showing him how proud
you are of his small and big achievements. A healthier and cleaner self-image
will mean more confidence and happiness which will slowly quell the need to
gratify oneself and find pleasure from deviances such as Child Masturbation.
Parents are also advised to
take their child to see a child counsellor. When a child is brought into a
child guidance clinic to deal with the problem of masturbating, the counsellor
first tries to divert his mind away from the problem by suggesting rigorous
physical exercises, sports and other fun activities in order to sublimate the
instinctual pleasures by healthier physical activity. The counsellor then goes
on to reassure the child that urge to masturbate excessively to derive pleasure
is a passing phase and that there is a way out of it. In some cases the child
is taught about sex to make him understand that it is not necessarily dirty if
handled in the correct way at the right age. Then the counsellor tries to find
out and eradicate the real cause of the behavioural disorder and helps the
child to overcome the problem through long hours of therapy. Then it is for the
parents to take it one step further and provide a healthy, loving and secure
atmosphere for the child to bloom in.
Does your child masturbate? How have
you faced this issue as a parent? What are your opinions on a child who
masturbates? Discuss here.