How to Stop Children's Self Stimulation


Between the ages of one and five, children are discovering their bodies. They are learning that there are girls and boys and something physical makes them different. It is not uncommon to find a young girl touching her vaginal area with her hands or using some other means, like a corner of a table, to stimulate herself. Boys generally just touch themselves in the tub or when out playing with friends. Most parents do not want their children to continue with these activities, and fortunately, there are ways to stop self-stimulation before it gets out of control.


  • Don't remove affection as a source of punishment. Children will search for affection from other sources and gain it in other ways.

  • Don't react with negative comments directed toward your child’s self-identity. Children with negative feelings about physical appearance are more vulnerable to engage in early sexual activity.

  • Don't be too restrictive or extreme in response to self-stimulation. Such a response creates the risk of making the child feel that something is wrong with him or her.

  • Don't try to hide a child’s sexual identity. Failure to communicate with your children about the differences between boys and girls leads children to believe there is something wrong with their bodies or that curiosity about their bodies is a bad thing.

  • Don't be unwilling to answer questions your child has about sexuality. Open lines of communication about sexual issues decreases the chances your child will participate in harmful behavior.


  • Promote self-acceptance and feelings of love. Show your love for your children by giving them embraces and other moral forms of affection. This helps provide security and teaches proper public displays of affection.

  • Have a strong conversation about sexual topics. Open communication allows you as a parent to transmit good sexual values and morals. 

  • Casually remind them to get dressed in private. Be a good example of keeping your body private and covered appropriately. This will help solve nudity problems. 

  • Simply remove hands or stop stimulation without saying much. Talk calmly about the situation. These actions are sufficient in most cases. Too much attention will aggravate the situation.

  • Use appropriate pictures to show the anatomy of the body. This will solve your child's curiosity of seeing the opposite sex naked. 

  • Teach your children that nobody should touch them in certain places or see them without clothes on. Teach them to say “NO” to anybody who asks to see them and to immediately tell you. Do not let them feel ashamed or uncomfortable to come to you. If problems with self-stimulation persist, you may consider going to see a doctor or family therapist.