2-year-old masterbating
by Susie N, May 22, 2007

I have a question pertaining to my 2-year-old and her habit of masterbating.  This is so embarrassing for me and my husband.

Ever since she was around a year old (a little younger maybe, too) she has to say this...doing various things in order to feel a certain something *down there*. At first, we noticed she was pushing and rubbing against the thing that goes between the legs on the highchair. She would get herself going (pushing and rubbing) so much that she'd break out in a sweat, breathe heavily, and then at the end look like she was completely tired out (much like we all do after a romp in the hay). It was so embarrasing if we were with any friends or family.

As time went on, she was doing the same thing in her carseat against the part that goes between her legs. We've taken her out of the highchair, but she still finds ways to do this. She'll sit on the steps or on one of the small kid size chairs we have and squeeze her legs together while pointing her toes, and just move her hips up and down until she gets what she wants. Thank goodness she hasn't figured out she can do the same thing with her hands.

I can tell you that she has never been in a situation where anyone has touched her inappropriately. The only babysitters she has ever had are my parents and I know they haven't done anything. Her father and I are just mortified (especially him) and don't know what to do. We've scolded her for it and she just gets mad and screams and then goes back to doing it once we quit watching her. I thought maybe it was a stress reliever for her, but now I'm noticing that she's doing it at any time of the day...stressed or not.

Has anyone here had experience with something like this? I've researched and can't really find info on what to do with a 2 year old. She doesn't exactly understand me saying to only do this in her room when alone (like I've read in other advice given). I don't want to punish her and give her a complex about her sexuality for later when it's appropriate (with her future husband).

What would you do in this situation??? Help! We're even hesitant to put her in the church nursery for fear she might do this there!
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Member Comments (138)
by AHP84, May 22, 2007
Perhaps you should post this in the Doctor-to-Patient Child Behavioral Health forum as well, so you can get a doctor's perspective about this.
by AHP84, May 22, 2007
That's odd about the Doc-to-Patient forum. Keep trying, just so you can definitely get professional medical advice about this.

I can try to offer some advice, but I'm probably about as confused as you are about your situation.

What I'd do, if I had that problem with my two yr old son, is sit him down immediately after catching him in the act (if it was in an inappropriate place or time, otherwise, I'd just ignore it), and tell him that sometimes he just CANNOT do that, and next time he would do that at an inappropriate time, I'd put him in time out.

The best comparable example I can think of with my son, however, is with spitting. He loves to spit, but I don't allow him to do it at other people or when we're out in public. At home, he can spit when he's in the tub or outside all he wants to.

A two-yr-old is old enough to understand when certain actions or words can be used at some times, but not others. But you have to be consistent with letting her know when those inappropiate times are. For example, when you have friends over--if she starts doing that in front of them, remove her from their presence, take her somewhere private, sit her down, and tell her that if she does that again, she will go to time out. She can continue if she wants *after* the friends go home.

Or in church nursery--tell the babysitters the situation (if you feel they must know), and tell them to come and get you if she starts doing that. Then take her into a private hallway, bathroom, or whatever, and tell her that if she does it again while she's at church, you are going to take her home and put her in time out. Then *follow through* if she does it again. She will not have forgotten that you told her about the time out--children between one and five years old have an excellent memory span that can last from from three hours to days or months at a time.

But give her the freedom to do that if it's in the privacy of your home, and only you and your husband have to deal with it. At this young age, maybe you don't have to send her to her room, but perhaps instead you could tell her that you don't want to see her do that, so would she please go around a corner or under a table or something. Then she won't feel like you're trying to "get rid of her" when she doesn't understand what she's doing. All she knows is that it feels good. But she needs to have the concept of appropriate times to do that. She's not too young to learn that.

I hope this helps. I could be really off base on this kind of situation.
by Susie N, May 22, 2007
I've been trying to do that since yesterday, but it keeps telling me that forum is full.  So, I thought I'd try here for some general ideas about our problem.  Thanks.
by barn babe, May 24, 2007
How you are responding to this "dilemma" says more about your own attitudes about sexuality and masturbation than anything.

A 2-year-old masturbates because they *can.* It feels good to them, just like playing, running, jumping, and all kinds of motor play feels good to them. It's perfectly normal. A couple of ways to deal with this are to either ignore it, or distract her from it. I doubt that 2-year-olds care much about "privacy issues" and that it's imporotant only to play with themselves "behind closed doors." "Scolding" her won't get you anywhere, and most probably will exacerbate the problem. For one thing, she will be picking up the message that what she is doing is "wrong" or "bad." Yikes.  It's neither one of those things, so it's not recommended to start sending THAT  message so early in her development. So just ignore it if that's possible.

Sorry, but 2-year-olds just don't have a concept of sexuality or orgasms or anything  like that. They are doing it because it feels good. It falls into the same category as  picking their nose or doing some other repetitive behavior that toddlers often do just because it is soothing, enjoyable, or pleasurable. Period. If she has a favorite toy or plaything, distract her with that.

As an aside, I find it interesting that you have already made the assumption that your daughter will be heterosexual.
by CHeimes, Jun 05, 2007
A 2-yr old should not be masterbating... period!  I would get medical or therapy help for this child.  That is not normal at all.

A 2-yr old touches themselves "down there" because they're exploring but not going to the extent that your child does.  There is no way a 2-yr old knows about masterbating unless someone has touched her in her private or has shown her something or she's seen something on her own...

I can tell you why that concerns me soooooo much... I was sexually abused as a child.  I can tell you that I was doing the same thing at 3-yrs old but in a little different way.  The ONLY way I knew about that was because someone was touching me in my private area.  

I am not saying that your child is being sexually abused but I am telling you that she's seen something or someone has showed her something in her little 2-yrs of life.  
P.S. - don't always trust close family members either... you never know... some family members very close to us are the ones that did the touching on me and never in a million years would anyone have ever thought that.

Get help immediately or things will get worse on her part and you'll have a lot of problems down the road!

I fortunately got help at an early age (16) and I am fine now.  

by AndrewSteele, Jun 09, 2008
I am so fed up with the outlook people have on children's sexuality! People see it as an unhealthy or dirty thing, and it isn't! You said that your daughter hasn't been molested, well of course she hasn't! Childhood masterbation is not a sign of any sort of sexual abuse. What your daughter is doing is perfectly normal, and if you think about it, understandable. Children, although not sexually mature, are sexual. Of course they have no sex drive like adults, but they can still experience errotic feelings.  Pretty much all children do this, I know I did from an early age and I think if you remember hard enough, I think you have too. Children can experience orgasms at 5 months.

It is clear to me that you have some prejudices about masterbation, I'm guessing you had some closed minded parents who are probably extreamly religious. It's time you learnt the truth so not to pass on these incorrect teachings to your daughter.

Trust me, you won't get her to stop. If you do, you'll do more harm then good. When your daughter grows up and relates masterbation to sex, she'll get the idea that sex is bad or dirty. Trust me, this will cause problems in future relationships. I understand that it can be a problem if your daughter does this in front of other people. At 2 years old, you won't be able to reason with her. I'm afraid you will have to put up with it for now. Once your daughter gets a little older, you should teach her that masterbation is perfectly ok, but shouldn't be done in front of other people. You should teach her to do it in her room, this may feel a little strange at first but it's the best way.

Please for the sake of your daughter, do not punish her for doing something that every child does.

Your daughter isn't going to harm herself by masterbating, and it will not cause any problems in the future. Listen to what I said and your daughter will grow up to be a perfectly normal, sexually healthy girl.

Don't listen to other people when they said that a 2 year old shouldn't be masterbating. They have no idea what they are talking about.

Sorry for the nature of my post but I am so fed up about what religion has taught us about sex and masterbation. It has caused too many problems and it's a time we put a stop to it.
by concerned123_23, Jun 19, 2008
My two year old recently started doing this. I freaked out and was about to dial 911 because I though she was having a seizure lying on the floor except she was responsive. She would become very angry when I tried to pick her up. I called her pediatrition who is out on maternity leave and couldnt get her in. I am very relieved to have done some research and am realizing this is much more common than I could have imagined at this age. I just dont want anyone poking at her or probing her for no reason. I have done lots of research in the past week and the test cases that I have seen that have been done on these kids is not what I want to put her through if this is at all normal behavior. My question is when do you consider it an obsessive behavior. Or when do you know if this something eles. I too know my child has not been abused in anyway and my mother watches her during the day so she is not out of our care at any time. It is embarrasing and I dont know how to explain to guests or church day care without them looking at her different or thinking there something wrong with her. It would need to be explained to anyone watching my child or they could possibly dial 911 thinking she is having a seizure.
by lonnamaria06, Jun 21, 2008
I have read a lot on this subject also. How many times have you seen 1 or 2 or 3 year olds in any other household doing this? Not many, I would imagine. This behavior is obsessive and NOT normal. Some mastubation is of course norman, but not to this extent. She is showing signs of other syndroms, possibly Asperger's, Bi-Polar, Autism, ADD. Check out all these things before you just chalk it up as normal. This is rare, not common. And those people who say it is, are not paying much attention to children or have not been around them much. Make sure she is ok in these areas first. If she checks out ok, then good! Then I wouldn't worry about it. Just make sure.
by margypops, Jun 21, 2008
I agree with Lonnamaria this is not normal in a child of that age ,go and see your Doctor and ask him first,and it is one of the signs someone has been doing it to them, It has become a habit, dont punish her though its never the childs fault remember, be more osservant and check out how she beahves with other people even Family around, you could get a clue.
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