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Dear Ali,

My 11-year-old asks me all sorts of questions and I always answer with truthful answers. But the other night she asked, “Mom, how do you masturbate?” This is one I definitely didn’t feel comfortable answering. I told her I would get her a book that may help answer this question for her.  What do you say to your daughter when she asks this at 11 years old?

Getting a bit uncomfortable with these questions!




Dear Getting Uncomfortable,

You must have created a nice open line of communication with your daughter. This is fantastic! Sometimes kids ask questions that knock us back a bit. This is certainly one of them.

What do you say to your 11-year-old daughter? I’d start with, “I’m glad you asked.” Then I’d ask her to clarify what she is asking. Sometimes kids are not asking what we think they are asking. Is she asking how you personally masturbate? How she should? What will give her an orgasm? What feels good? What is okay and what is inappropriate? Maybe she wants to know all of that. Or maybe she’s asking something else.

After you find out what she is asking (and maybe why) tell her the truth. Tell her that masturbation is normal. But we do it in private. I recommend you use the proper terminology for body parts. Remind her to be gentle with her vulva. Make sure she knows her hands should be clean and her nails filed. At her age, nothing but her finger should go inside her vagina.

I hope I don’t have to say this, but it has come up with a client in my practice – it is NOT okay under any circumstance to masturbate in front of your child to demonstrate. You may talk about it, but not show it.

For those who are opposed to allowing your daughter to masturbate… by masturbating, she will learn what feels good to her body. Then, when she’s an adult, and sexually active, she can show someone what feels good. Until then, isn’t it better that she’s doing it herself?



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