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7 Things to do when you catch your daughter masturbating

I was a 15 year old peer HIV/AIDS Educator who became a professional sexologist, sexuality educator, and author. I live in NYC with my husband, son, and daughter.

I could have simply written “smile and do nothing,” and that would have been okay, too, but I’ll give you a bit more information.
Growing up, I always assumed that masturbation was a word that applied only to boys. It wasn’t something that was discussed in my house; we had no males at home other than my dad. Clearly, I was very mistaken, and part of what I do today is in an effort to undo those unequal messages about gender and sexuality. So, in case you didn’t know that little girls masturbate, too, here are seven things to do if you catch your daughter in the act of self-pleasure. (By the way, I could have simply written “smile and do nothing,” and that would have been okay, too, but I’ll give you a bit more information.)


Hit the pause button

Don’t do anything just yet. Check in with yourself and any parenting partner. What are your values about masturbation? You don’t want to deliberately (or, for that matter, inadvertently) pass along your own issues to your daughter. Get hold of your feelings first and then think about what it is you really want your child to know.


Don't freak out

I repeat, don't freak out. Masturbation is a common childhood behavior regardless of ones biological sex. While the images that come to mind are of little boys with their hands down their pants, that's just a generalization. Girls do it, too. If you freak out, you’re sending a message to your daughter that there is something shameful about her body. As we know, that body and sex-related shame is something we wind up carrying for a very long time and it’s hard to undo.


Casually ask her what she's doing

Don’t do this in an accusatory way. Say: “Hi, what are you doing?” Find out what she’s really thinking. She may be doing it for pleasure or maybe she has an itch. That sounds silly, I know, but there is a difference.

Want more tips on talking to your teen about sex? Check out Dr. Levkoff's new book>>


Talk about the good stuff

“It’s totally normal to want to explore your body. It’s a really cool place.” Acknowledge that you know that what she is doing feels good. Tell her that her body is capable of amazing things, including pleasure.


Explain some logistics

Masturbation is probably not the talent you want your child to show off in front of your guests, so you should talk about location. Try this: “I know that feels good, but it’s something that's just for you, so if you want to do it, why don't you go to your room where you can have some privacy?"


Be an opportunist

The masturbation conversation gives us an opportunity to talk about how our bodies are just for us. Consider it the “good touch, bad touch” conversation without all of the negativity. We can frame it positively: “Your body and your vulva (yes, be specific) are just for you. No one can ever touch you without your permission.”


Celebrate

I don’t mean throw a party, but rather, you should feel good that your daughter will never have to rely on a partner to “turn her” into a sexual being. She won’t settle for less than stellar experiences or partners because she knows what her own body is capable of.

Click here to read more from Logan Levkoff.

Photo credit: Hongqi Zhang/iStock/360/Getty Images
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