A few weeks ago, I took my five year old daughter on a trip where we stayed in a hotel for four nights. On the first night just after bedtime, I noticed some sounds coming from her bed, and I wondered if she was comfortable. I kept asking her if she was okay, and she kept saying she was. Yet, it sounded like a lot of tossing and turning. After several minutes went by and still hearing that sound, I walked over to her bed, and lifted up one corner of her blanket. It looked like she was masturbating? She was lying on her tummy, with her hands between her legs, and her waist was moving up and down, with her feet and legs kicking around a little. I went back to bed, realizing that she probably was okay, but kind of shocked that she was doing this.
When we got home I checked on her the next few nights at home to find out she does this at home too. I am worried that now this might be a bad habit for her? I also wonder if I should talk with her about it, but I don’t want to make a big deal or draw any extra attention to it, nor make her feel embarrassed either. What are your thoughts?
S. in NC
Believe it or not, I get this question A LOT, online and in my office. Younger children explore their own bodies – this is absolutely normal, and she is in the peak age for this common preschool behavior. Many kids continue to do this as a self-soothing behavior, because it feels good to them. You will need to talk to her about what she is doing, but the most important thing is to do so in a way so that she doesn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed.
Here is a video where I offer tips and what to talk about with your child.
Most importantly, don’t stress about it, your daughters behavior is perfectly normal!
All my best,
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