The other day, I walked into the bathroom and caught my
11-year-old son fondling his penis. Is this normal? I've heard that
boys can go blind from this. Is that true?
As kids mature physically and emotionally, they become
increasingly curious about their sexuality and their own
Although infants and younger children do touch their own
genitals from time to time because they like the way it feels,
masturbation is more common in older kids, from the preadolescent
and teen years and beyond.
Contrary to the beliefs of some, masturbation won't cause
your son to grow hair on his hands, become infertile, go blind, or
develop emotional problems. A small number of children and teens
with existing emotional problems may become preoccupied with
masturbation - just as they may become overly occupied with other
behaviors or thoughts. Other than that, masturbation is generally
considered by health care professionals to be a form of harmless
self-exploration and sexuality. While some preteens and teens may
choose to masturbate, others may not.
Because masturbation is often considered a private topic, many
kids may feel too embarrassed to talk about it, fearing that their
parents will be angry or disappointed. Many may prefer to talk to
older siblings, friends, or their doctors rather than a
parent. If you continue to be concerned or have questions about
masturbation, you may want to talk to your child's doctor.
For more information, check out these articles:
Understanding Early Sexual Development
A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Teen Years
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: January 2007
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