Preschooler's masturbation

Q: My three-year-old daughter has recently started rubbing against her seat belt in the car seat. She says she does it because it feels good, which I understand. I have told her this is something to be done in the privacy of her room; her very logical answer is, I can’t do this in my room.

Q: My three-year-old daughter has recently started rubbing against her seat belt in the car seat. She says she does it because it feels good, which I understand. I have told her this is something to be done in the privacy of her room; her very logical answer is, I can’t do this in my room.

A: Much to the surprise of many parents, masturbation is common among three-year-olds. Your response was completely appropriate, and although her reaction was logical, it’s not appropriate. If she persists, you can explain about privacy. For example, we wear clothes not just for warmth, but also to cover genitals; and we close the door when we use the bathroom.

Explain to her that we don’t always get to do exactly what we want. For example, when she’s really angry at someone, she’s not allowed to hit even if that’s what she feels like.