She’s been using masturbation to fall asleep since she was five.
Hi Amy! I have three daughters ages 15, 13, and 10 and have a question about our 13-year-old. When she was probably 5 she shared with us that she would “tickle her potty” to help her fall asleep. She could tell us that it felt good and helped her sleep faster and better. We didn’t do much other than tell her that she does need to learn to fall asleep on her own. We didn’t want to shame or call much attention to it. We tuck her in each night, talk about the day, say prayers and close the door. She is on her own for falling asleep.
Well, here we are many years later and I woke up with this on my heart again. So, I asked her if she was still doing this – just she and I. She said that she did sometimes, not all the time and had been for a while. I asked about how it feels and why and she really wasn’t able to verbalize how it feels.
She also said that she has been thinking about the “thing where you have sex with yourself” – referring to masturbation. She has learned about it in school. I need to ask her what context it was introduced in. We attend a private religious school so I’m hoping there was not any talk of sin associated with it. That certainly would not help with the shame piece.
So, my heart is a bit worried and bit concerned and maybe it’s over nothing but I would like to ask a few questions:
- Is this “normal” behavior for this extended period of time?
- Is she somehow decreasing her sexual experience by participating in this for so long?
- Will sex feel as good to her when she is grown because of this?
- Does it need to stop? How? What can we do?
- What are the words to say? I am really, really worried about creating any shame around this as I know that is a feeling in adolescent girls that can lead to some increased risky behaviors.
Masturbation is a life-skill for girls!
Thanks for your email and question about your daughter! I am more than happy to help you.
You have handled this exactly as I would have suggested so far, so no worries about shame, etc. Keep your poop-in-a-group, stay calm and open and supportive and she’ll be just fine.
You have NOTHING to worry about, in fact, you should be delighted that she’s figured this out and knows her body. Because she can make herself feel good in this way, she will be able to take care of her sexual needs and urges on her own, rather than via a stinky boy.
This is healthy and normal and really very much a life skill! So many women and girls never figure this out.
Reminder her that in your family, you don’t think that masturbation is sinful – some people do, but not you.
Answers to your specific questions:
Is this “normal” behavior for this extended period of time? Totally. She figured out early on that this relaxes her and helps her sleep. As she gets older, she will start to connect this activity with more sexual-sexual feelings which is awesome. See above.
Is she somehow decreasing her sexual experience by participating in this for so long? Nope. She’ll have a better sex life because of this. She knows her body, what feels good, how to help her some-day partner help her enjoy sex, etc.
Will sex feel as good to her when she is grown because of this? Better. 😉
Does it need to stop? How? What can we do? Nope, nope and nada.
What are the words to say? I am really, really worried about creating any shame around this as I know that is a feeling in adolescent girls that can lead to some increased risky behaviors.
Say to her, “I wanted to let you know that it is totally normal and natural and healthy for you to masturbate! In fact, nearly everyone does it, but it’s a private thing, so people don’t really talk about it. Here’s the deal, the more you know your own body the better. Someday, when you are ready for sex, this will help you enjoy it more. However, right now, this is something you can do in private, alone and with clean hands.”
You’ve got this!
Time To Have The Sex Talk?
The Biggest Mistake Parents Make IS NOT Talking To Our Kids About Sex Soon Enough
The birds and the bees can be tough to talk about, but with a little information, skills, some careful thought and planning, it’s possible to have comfortable and effective sex talks with your kids that don’t make either of you super uncomfortable!