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3-Year-Old Girl pleasuring herself? Masturbation?
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3-Year-Old Girl pleasuring herself? Masturbation?

Hello. I  have a 3-1/4 year old girl who has an annoying habit. since she was about 2, she would rub herself (her crotch) rhythmically and for long spans of time...as if she were pleasuring herself. This only ever happened in her high-chair, car seat or store shopping cart (when she was older).  she really works up a sweat, too and gets very flushed. sometimes she will do it to the point of near exhaustion. i am always trying to get her to stop it, but have not been able to break her of the habit. my wife initially thought it was harmless and would be something that she would grow out of, but now, 1 year and a half later, she is still doing it. aside from it being rather embarrassing for us (like in the supermarket), i am concerned about damage she might cause to herself 'down there.' Is it harmless? How can I get her to stop? Thanks!
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Avatar_m_tn
i should have been more clear: she isn't using her hands to do this, she is rubbing up on the part of the high-chair or shopping cart between her legs. in the car seat, she uses the belt strap between her legs to do this.
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13167_tn?1327197724
If you read through this board,  this is INCREDIBLY COMMON.  Girls do this in surprising numbers,  although if you aren't on the internet I don't think you'd know that.

I think if I were in the grocery store,  I'd make her walk next to me - she's too old to be in the baby seat anyway.  

Although a lot of girls do this,  this is not something that's acceptable in public and she's old enough to understand that.   She's also old enough to be in a big girl booster seat that doesn't have something between her legs.

She needs to understand that this is a private thing,  and if she wants to do that,  go somewhere private.  Like you don't just poop in the middle of the aisle in church,  you go in private in the bathroom.

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Avatar_m_tn
hi there. thanks for your response. i did check out the forums, but just wasn't sure if this was really masturbation or not. she does not seem like she is getting what i could term 'pleasure' out of it. sometimes she's like in a trance. other times she seems like she's in pain. she has also done it until she passed out. i have also noticed that she sometimes has sore spots or scuffed up skin from the car seat or stroller. she's been out of a high-chair for a while now, but occasionally wants to be put in her younger sister's chair. or at the store she will ask to be put in the shopping cart...so she can do what she does. thanks for your response!
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433383_tn?1204128429
It's not a sexual thing. Unless she has been exposed to something like that, she doesn't understand anything other than the fact that it feels good. But causing herself to pass out by doing it so ... I don't know what word to use here... is a little concerning.  You should talk to her pediatrician and see what they suggest.  My daughter has a female pediatrician, when I was little I didn't like having a male doctor.  

It IS perfectly normal for young children to be curious and to do that because it feels good, just like a nice back massage.  But now is a good time to teach her that she can only do it in private and that no one else is to touch her there and likewise.  

Also, don't make her feel bad about it or she'll be extremely uncomfortable having any kind of relationship in the future.  It's not bad, it's a normal feeling.  
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Avatar_n_tn
I think that I would speak with the pediatrician having worked with children for 15 years, this is a common sign of sexual abuse. While it is normal for a child to do this but to the extreme of exhaustion is very alarming to me.  
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Avatar_m_tn
we had taken her to a pediatrician for this shortly after she started doing this, but were told that it was normal. we video taped her and took it back to the doctor who still thought it was normal. so now, i think that my wife and i we will be taking her to a new pediatrician (esp. since we moved) and ask about this again. thank you all for your responses!
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm curious as to what you have said to your daughter to try and "break her of her habits."  Nothing will scar a child for life than their parents making them feel dirty or wrong for masturbating.  I should know, I am one of those kids, and I'm just now learning to be okay with having sexual intimacy without intense guilt and shame, and I'm 25!  Who is your daughter around?  Who are/were her caregivers?  It does sound like there is the potential that she was sexually abused and this is her way of coping with it since she can't or won't tell you what happened.  I'm concerned if you handled it wrongly by telling her it's totally wrong to do the humping thing, because IF it's the case she's had some abuse from a caregiver or someone in close proximity (that's usually who does it), she may feel wrong and embarassed by it now that you've reacted to her tendency to hump things.  It's normal for little children to explore their bodies and indeed sometimes get pleasure from such exploration, but it's usually not on the level that your daughter is taking it, and it seems like she is making a cry for help.  Please get her to a specialist in childhood behavior ASAP, and I agree with the poster who suggested a female pediatrician.  When I was a little girl, I felt more open with a female physician than with a male one, and I would disclose more to a female doctor than a male.  Little girls are sometimes embarrased to talk to men about intimate issues.  In fact, as a grown woman I have a hard time being candid with male physicians, not because I deem them incomptetant, but because I just feel like another woman can understand where I'm coming from a bit more.  So take that into consideration.  If it turns out that it's not sexual abuse, then I'm not sure what to say other than the fact that you should not make her feel bad for it, as that will only exacerbate the situation.  Do not use punishment for this behavior.  Use distraction techniques instead.  Tell her that she is a big girl and can walk aside you in the supermarket, etc, and be firm but compassionate about that.  Show her that you are the parent, the one in charge of the situation and that she will have to listen to your guidance, hold your hand and walk alongside you like a big girl.  Reward good behavior and distract from the negative behaviors...since this is most likely a sexual issue, do not make her feel shameful because that will stick with her into adulthood if you do.  Thank you.  
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Avatar_n_tn
People come on - this behavior DOES NOT mean your child was abused. My daughter does the same thing - it's nothing more than a little girl who found something that feels good.  My daughter first started this behavior when she was put in a high chair - she threw a temper tantrum by moving up and down - she then realized the moving up and down motion on the strap felt good.  She continued this behavior in her car seat and she hasn't stopped since.  It's very annoying - but that's all it is.  She's not abused.  She's a little girl who discovered that rubbing herself against stuff feels good - there's nothing wrong with that except it's not a proper place to do it.  All we tell her is "Quit doing the PP dance - do the PP dance in private sweetheart as doing the PP dance in public in not appropriate."  She will then ALWAYS follow with "Why mommy?"  :)  We haven't gotten past that.  :)  BTW people when I was a little girl I would go outside and rub myself on the swing pole - so I KNOW this is totally normal behavior - ALL OF MY little friends would do the same thing.  I can't believe most woman or responders are totally clueless about this behavior.  This tells me they are clueless about their bodies - or just in denial.  Parents don't make a big deal out of it - DO NOT shame your daughters.  Move on.  Tell them to do that in private and MOVE ON.  That's it.  Don't give your daughters a complex - this is totally normal behavior.  We were made with a body part that happens to feel good when you rub against something - is it society that adds all the ridiculous meanings behind this behavior.  Grow up people come on - find something else to make a big huge deal out of.  There's no deep-seeded-ill happening here. It's innocent behavior.  O.K. got it - now move on.
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Avatar_f_tn
I actually got into a conversation about this with a few of my coworkers today. One has a daughter with this "habit." I am female and was never aware of this happening however after I thought about it, I realized that very easily I could have found out about how it feels at two or three as opposed to one day when I was twelve.

Sometimes it can mean that the child was exposed to sexual mistreatment while other times it is discovered by complete accident. The nerves don't just grow there as you get older, they are already there when we are young. Sexual pleasure is just a normal part of life and everyone must be aware of that. People naturally learn things by accident but we as adults must be able to correct the behavior and redirect it to happen during appropriate times.

I honestly do not believe that it is an issue that should be taken harshly but also not too lightly.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hey ok first of all i have to agree with Avatar mom. Telling a parent their child might be sexually abused isnt something you should suggest lightly and whenever. Im sure the pediatrician he has been seeing for his daughter has checked for that when he brought this up. By the way my daughter is 2 and she has been doing this since she was probably 4-5 months except she doesnt rub up on anything like a strap or something between her legs. I have always been so confused and concerned about this because like you had said she gets into a trance, it has happened to my daughter many times and yes when she was younger she also did pass out a few times from it. I find she does it when she's super tired or when she would be either in her high chair or car seat as an infant and now she does it when she's sitting on chairs at her little kids table. I also brought a video recording to her doctor and he watched it with other doctors and told me its a form a pleasure she gets from stretching her muscles, because like i said she doesnt rub her crotch in anyway, she's more or less stretching her legs repeatedly in a humping motion. I've always been super concerned and wanted to figure it out more in depth than what he had told me and what im reading here. I want to know if maybe its some how related to her being tired or her back ( i have scoliosis and her back looks the same too )...anyway i hope you find more of an answer than what most of these people are saying about sexual molestation, as if! If anyone knows where i can speak to a specialist rather than a pediatrician that would help very much. Thanks
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Avatar_m_tn
Oh and i also wanted to mention, it is VERY embarrassing in public. I had her birthday party at our house and she sat down on a chair to open all her presents and infront of everyone she started doing her stretching and wouldnt stop and all the parents were looking at her with a weird look. It happens all the time infront of other people and i dont know what to say or how to act.
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757137_tn?1347200053
Your biggest concern is that she will draw unwanted attention and be regarded as peculiar. When one of my children did something unacceptable in public, I would draw myself up, and with a very stern face, look down disapprovingly and say, "Ladies don't do that in public!"  It worked for me, especially as I was usually very easy-going and good-humored.



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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks and i do say the exact same thing actually, thats funny. "ladies dont do that" but i have to correct myself, this is definitely not my biggest concern one bit. My biggest concern is there is a problem or pain of some sort that the doctors are not seeing. Something going on inside her body that only can be relived by stretching the way she does. Does anyone know of a specialist that could look into this matter further?
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757137_tn?1347200053
I wonder if she has a yeast infection. That would cause terrible itching. Or she may have a bladder infection. You might want to check that out.
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Avatar_m_tn
No i doubt its that because she has been doing it since she was an infant and i have taken her to the normal doc visits many times and they always check down there when she was younger so i dont think so, but thanks. :)
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127529_tn?1331844380
It is perfectly normal for toddlers (boys and girls) to do this. My youngest son has rubbed backwards and forwards on his bed in a sitting position since he could sit up. He does it almost every time he goes to sleep at night, it is just self soothing, it feels nice to him just as some toddlers like to suck a dummy or stroke a blanket, is is a sensory self soothing activity. For a while he did sometimes do it on the settee but we just told him it was something he should do in private. It is no big deal.
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Avatar_m_tn
My daughter used to lay on her teddy face down and move her hips while breathing heavy from the age of 1. Now she does the same but uses her hands and she calls it "horsie horsie" and only seems to do it if tired,bored or needing comfort.She can do this until her hands go numb! and luckily she only seems to do it at home!We were very unaware this behaviour could start so young so it is reassuring to know other parents are witnessing similar things. I have total faith that this is her way of exploring her body and growing up and is something she has found on her own. My mother has innocent pics of me with  potty on my head holding my winkel so just part of life i think. nothing sinister here!
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Avatar_n_tn
I have a 3 year old girl how does it like an adult. I left her in the bath for about 10 min and when i poped my head in to look she had her leg up and was touching her self trumendisly. I know that its common for kids to touch it and maybe rub it, but she was doing it like an adult. Its a feeling there not use to and it seem's soothing. But i was shocked on how she was injoying it. Braething and moning yes like an adult. I am a young father and me and her mother are consurned. I want to tell her its a private thing but the fact of the matter is shes my baby and it makes me uneasy. We have not a single reason of why she does it the way she does but i hope someone might????
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Avatar_f_tn
Wow, finally someone that's knows what I am going through!! I have two daughter that do this, one four and one and half. My four year old has done since she was also little. My one and half year old has done it this past year. I also was concerned about abuse, but fail to see anyone that had hurt her. I am a stay at home mom.... But I know it can still happen with in family  members.  I feel better knowing that other mom are asking why!!  I do ask them to stop but my boyfriend one of my girls dads yells at them, I also feel that is a bad way to deal with this.
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Avatar_m_tn
I also think this is normal behavior. It is only a sign of abuse if she tries to do things that she shouldn't know how to do like touch someone else for example.

I think children are more aware of their genitals than people think. I always knew there was something about my genitals but didn't figure out what exactly until I was about 12. I tried to stimulate myself by bouncing on a soft ball for awhile or by bouncing on the corner of a bed. It would build up a lot of tension and it did feel good once or twice but I didnt have an orgasm until i was about 12 and it wasnt a proper one until I got used to the feeling (like after experiencing it lots of times).

So my conclusion is she is just curious which is normal.

The next time-encourage your daughter to do this in private. If she asks why? Just say-because that part of your body is very private especially in front of others so you should only explore it when you are alone... I always made sure not to get caught but I can only remember doing it from the age of maybe 8 and I only did it while alone sometimes. Dont make her feel bad about it though as its normal for us to explore our bodies and Ive heard young boys do it all the time and people seem to be more understanding about this.
I understand it must feel embarrassing for you-I would feel the same way but don't let it affect your relationship with your daughter.

By the way I also saw my sister rubbing herself off a ball once when she was 7 or 8. It is normal

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Avatar_f_tn
I was searching for the same topic but for different reasons. I am 19, I live with my fiancé we have been together for 3 years & we are sexually active. But ever since I was 7 I have masturbating the exact same way, except I discovered it by accident by rubbing my privates with the hard desk, all I knew is that it felt good & if I did it for a good amount of time I would get a good sensation at the end that made me crave it. I started rubbing against things at home, but one day I got so fed up with trying to find something I just stretched my legs out & started rubbing, applying pressure so I could feel the same sensation which I did & I have been doing the same method for years now! & it's gotten in the way of my sexual relationship with my partner, I don't get an orgasm unless I can stretch & rub.. I don't know what to do anymore I get so tired & get leg cramps but it feels good to me. I don't do anything other than rub against something...
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