Masturbation Concerns

Dear Sara,

I have a beautiful daughter Haley who is almost three. She is potty trained but still wears a diaper at night. During the day she has her hand in her underwear a lot. She will sit in the backyard and appears to be playing with herself. This is somewhat embarrassing to me. When I see her doing this I try to make her stop by distracting her but she goes back to it later. How can I get her to stop doing this?

Dear Brittany,

Your plan of distracting her is a good one. She doesn’t need to feel that she is doing something wrong by doing this. Maybe she has just discovered something that feels good but there could be other things to consider.

If she has a urinary tract infection, she might be itching in that area. If you haven’t taken her to the pediatrician lately, she needs to be checked out to make sure there aren’t any vaginal or urinary tract problems.

The other thing you might want to consider is sexual abuse. It is hard to believe that someone that you know and trust could do something like this but sexual abuse is often perpetrated by a friend or family member. Haley may be able to tell you if something like this is going on if she has the verbal ability. If not, keep a watchful eye on her. Sometimes sexual abuse goes on for years and causes a lot of emotional problems for the victim. I hope you find the cause soon.


  1. Amazing, isn’t it? Peopel are so obsessed with sex that they automatically assume that a 3-year-old is struggling towards having an orgasm!!!

    Well, I have news for these people. THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH MASTURBATING. GEDDIT?

    Secondly, as the advisor so correctly warns, there may be something else on the baby’s mind other than sex… such as a DISEASE. Leave your personal obsessions behind and do your job as a parent, for a change.

  2. murf appling says:

    we have 2 granddaughters who do the same thing now & then – granddad simply tells them to STOP
    that – let’s go play outside, let’s go read – lets go ride bikes – lets go “roughhouse” – will agree with the possibility of a physical ??? but that other suggestion is
    paranoia!! kiddos so lots of strange things!!

    Murf Appling
    Gemantown, TN

  3. Sure get’s tiresome having people constant putting “adult concepts” on children. The kid might have an infection and it’s a good idea to have it checked– beyond that everything else is normal. Stop putting your own filthy thoughts on children. We wonder why kids are so body conscious and are so messed up about sex when they get older… it’s because “good” people make the human body vile and disgusting. When an act of simply breastfeeding your child bothers people, it’s the people who are bothered that have the problem. The sick “puritanical” witch-hunts in america are so childish and immature.

  4. What a wise and compassionate answer, Sara. I appreciate reading a response that accounts for the many possibilities behind Brittany’s daughter’s behavior. Thank you!

  5. Thank you so much for bringing up the sexual abuse issue. Having worked as a counselor, the sheer number of sexually abused babies, toddlers and up, is staggering. And until we stop the cycle, it goes in and on for generations.

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