Q: My 5½-year-old daughter likes to masturbate a lot. I’ve told her she can only do it in her room at her quiet time, but she still does it everywhere and often. It bothers me a lot and while at first I thought it was a stage, I’m starting to worry that she won’t grow out of it. What can I do?
A: Masturbation is common among five-year olds. Some children are quite interested in their genitals and others are not; both are healthy and normal. But you’re right, there is a time and a place for everything and your daughter needs to learn that although her actions are healthy, they are also private. Explain that we don’t always get to do exactly what we want. For example, when she’s really angry, she can’t hit people, even if that’s what she wants to do; instead she has to talk to them or leave them alone. In the same way, there are things we only do in private. Other examples of privacy she might understand are how we cover our genitals even when wearing a skimpy bathing suit and closing the door when we use the bathroom.