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Toddler masturbation?

So I KNOW my three year old daughter doesn't understand masturbating in a sexual way, but she seems to have discovered that pushing on her private areas feels good (at least that's my assumption). Whenever she is laying down for a nap or to go to bed, she's always got her hands down there, and now she is putting her hands in her pants. She's delayed, so she's not potty trained. For one thing, it's dirty since she's in diapers still, and for another it's just sort of embarrassing. In addition, I think she's hurting herself because now whenever I go to change her diaper, if I very gently wipe her vagina, she say ow and pulls away from me. Also, I know this is something she discovered on her own, she's never away from me, so I know there's no abuse issue.

How do I get her to stop this behavior? It's been going on for nearly a year! I tell her that she needs to keep her hands out of her pants, and she just bawls. Help!

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Asked by Anonymous at 2:29 AM on Mar. 24, 2009 in General Parenting

Answers (14)
  • i've never had to deal with this (or not yet at least) but maybe try telling her that putting her hands down there is dirty, and her hands wont be clean if she does that. or tell her that is something she should do by herself. when no one is around. OR tell her to stop doing it because then her privates hurt afterwards. like when your changing her and she says ow, say it hurts because you put your hands down there, you shouldn't do that. sorry i dont really have experience with this but i hope i helped at least a little!

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:39 AM on Mar. 24, 2009

  • if its recent have you though that maybe she has an infection and thats why she is putting her hand down there to start with just an idea

    Answer by miss_nevin at 2:45 AM on Mar. 24, 2009

  • My daughter is 8 months and already reaching down there. I just think she's curious, because that area is always covered except at bathtime, but then she's just worried about splashing. I don't know what to tell you. Hopefully, it's just a phase. I doubt this will help, but when I was about 3 or 4, my sister told me that "that" was my marriage hole and it was never to be used, except for peeing and cleaning until I was married. In hindsight, I realize that she said that to me, because she had being molested and was trying to let me know what is okay and what is not okay. Maybe you could say something like that.

    Answer by BridgetC140 at 2:52 AM on Mar. 24, 2009

  • Yeah missnevin makes a good point! Maybe she has a yeast infection and is reaching in there to scratch and then when you wipe her it burns, because she has been scratching. Take her to her ped., she may be itchy as h*ll down there and that is why she is constantly worried about it.

    Answer by BridgetC140 at 2:54 AM on Mar. 24, 2009

  • No yeast infection, we tried that route. They had to do two catheters, since she's not potty trained, and no infection. Also, she's more like a 24 month old developmentally, so I have tried the dirty diaper, dirty hands talk, and the that's why it hurts talk. I've tried telling her that it's her privates and she doesn't need to touch them. I'm at my wits end! She just doesn't get it when I talk to her because of her delays.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:59 AM on Mar. 24, 2009

  • Well, then it just may take time. Good Luck Mama!

    Answer by BridgetC140 at 3:47 AM on Mar. 24, 2009

  • It's VERY normal & innocent. Of course it feels different down there, & she will figure that out one way or another. I remember when my daughter started figuring it out i told her "don't do that it doesn't feel good" but then i thought....wait it actually does feel! I told her of she is going to touch it down there, that she needs to do it in the bathtub, because if her dirty fingers are feeling around down there it can get hurt. She has now grown out of it, i guess she figured it out & then left it alone once she learned things are sensitive down there. It is TOTALLY normal & i wouldn't worry about it. Make sure to tell her that if her hands are dirty, it will make her burn down there. Tell her it's only ok to do in the bathtub where she is clean.


    Answer by samurai_chica at 9:36 AM on Mar. 24, 2009

  • never mind, i didn't read your last post. If she isn't understanding you, then good luck. But i wouldn't tell her that it's not ok, becuase it's really no big deal. I would just tell her to do it in the tub only.

    Answer by samurai_chica at 9:37 AM on Mar. 24, 2009

  • I don't see a toddler touching themselves as odd. All my kids have gone through this phase. Good feeling while touching there are a part of life and totally normal. I teach them to do it in their rooms. I've never once said, stop that's bad. It hurts a child's body image. You don't want them thinking there is something bad about their privates. If she's hurting herself or the area hurts, I'd ask her doctor. There could be a problem.

    Answer by Pauline3283 at 10:30 AM on Mar. 24, 2009

  • Don't follow the first anon's advice. You will be setting her up for every complex known to man. How many of us grew up with our mothers telling us the exact same thing she did? Don't tell her it's dirty to do that or she will have issues about herself. Don't punish her and mind ninja her either by blaming her touching herself for painful diaper changes. It is probably a phase and she will probably find something else to do later on. You could always tell her that she should do it in a private place. But please, however you handle it, punishing her and making her think exploring her body is a bad thing is not the way to go.

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:23 AM on Mar. 24, 2009

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