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Masturbation at 7-years-old?

I'm a father to a 7-year-old boy, and one day, I recently came home from work and found him in the living room masturbating. He saw me and he was not embarrassed that I caught him and he kept going in front of me. I walked away and I have not spoken to him about it.

Since that day, he has been masturbating in front of me most days. It does not bother me if he masturbates in front of me. Is it wrong of me as his dad to allow this to continue?

Matthew Gibson | Pediatrician

Matthew Gibson

While it can often be embarrassing for a parent to talk about or encounter with their child, masturbation is a normal part of self-exploration and development. A majority of children masturbate at some point in time during childhood if not teenage years.

The important thing as a parent is to speak with your child. Explain that masturbation is a normal thing to do but to make sure that your child understands masturbation is a private activity and not one that is done in public or with others. It is important when discussing masturbation with your child to not label it as dirty, wrong, or evil. This can create a sense of guilt and lead to secrecy that can be unhealthy as they grow and sexually develop.

You should have further evaluation done with your child's doctor if you find that your child has excessive masturbation at home or in public, has persistent public masturbation even after you've discussed it, such activity takes place in conjunction with other symptoms of behavioral/emotional difficulty (such as sadness, isolation, aggression, withdrawal, new bed-wetting or soiling), or if it occurs with inappropriate sexual talk or other activity/mimicry.

Read more answers by Dr. Gibson