Dear 100 Hour Board,
My 4-year-old recently told me about something she likes to do "because it tickles my private parts." I know a lot of people who end up struggling with masturbation issues pinpoint the beginning of the problem to early years,before they understood what they were doing, so I wanted to respond lovingly and in an age appropriate way, but I had no idea what to say! And now I'm having a hard time finding resources to help me. It seems like all the church's resources are geared toward older kids (tweens/teens), and non-church resources just instruct parents to tell their kids not to touch themselves in public.
So, 100 Hour Board, I turn to you for help. How do I talk to my very young daughter about this issue?
I don't think you should make a big deal out of this. for a couple reasons. First, making a big deal out of it could give the wrong impression that certain parts of her body are bad or are off-limits. This isn't the message you are wanting to send, but it could easily be taken that way, especially by someone so young. Second, making a big deal of it could make her way more curious down the road which could exacerbate any masturbation issues you are fearing.
To be honest, my first reaction would be to ignore it at this stage because chances are she'll just grow out of it, and I'd rather have a daughter who masturbates than a daughter who struggles with loving her body or feeling like the sexual part of herself is bad.
Another approach would be having an age appropriate sex lesson. You could teach her about her vulva, vagina, and clitoris. Teach her what they do and why you feel like she shouldn't play with them. This approach might be really uncomfortable for you, and it could lead to her asking more questions that you'd rather not answer at this stage of her life, but it also might curb her curiosity and help her understand why you think those parts of her body are sacred.
Whatever you do, I think it is sound advice to tell her not to do it in public.
I hope that helps!
-Sunday Night Banter