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Mom Q&As

  1. Expert: Alyson Schafer
    July 6th, 2010
    My toddler has started masturbating. What should I do?

    Children need to feel comfortable about their bodies and their budding sexual responses. It’s common for toddlers to discover that masturbation sensations are pleasant. Stay "body positive" while you enforce the "public" versus "private" aspects of where we choose to expose, touch and rub ourselves.  

    Simply saying: "No thank you" or " I don't like" is sufficient if your child is pressing on your leg. If she is touching herself or rubbing against furniture say:  “It feels nice to press like that, but that’s for private (like picking your nose is).” Then, give her a choice to continue in the privacy of her room or stop pressing and stay with everyone else. “Staying here and pressing is not an option.” If she continues, take her hand and walk her to her room and say: "This is where we do that.”  

    Be sure its not punishment or shunning, just directing your child to the privacy of her room where she can enjoy genital sensations.  

    This should help socialize her to our social norms with regard to sexual behaviors without shaming or humiliating her for those wonderful sensations she is discovering.   

    Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada's leading parenting experts. She is the best selling author of Breaking the Good Mom Myth (John Wiley and Sons 2006) and Honey, I Wrecked The Kids (John Wiley and Sons 2009). Her popular TV call-in show, The Parenting Show, is now in its fourth season. For more on her principles, rule and tools for parenting visit: