8 year old daughter pleasuring herself?

My 8 year old daughter may be pleasuring herself in her car seat. She doesn't have the strap between her legs anymore but when she is in her car seat somehow she is able to rub against it. She has been doing this a long time, prior to this using the strap in between to do so, which we then removed. Now she is starting to tell me that when she does this she gets wet between her legs (she is wondering if she is peeing on herself). I am not sure how to handle this. First, as she gets older I don't want her to feel embarrassed as she starts to understand what she is doing (and talking to me about). Second, she thinks she does this when she feels like she has to pee and it keeps the pee in, so that is about the extent of what she understands. She doesn't know anything about the details of sex although in vague general sense she knows how things work. She is a bit squeamish about bodily functions and will run into the bathroom to see if she has pee in her underwear after she does this and we are at home. I have all the sex books and age appropriate body books ready to go for when the time comes, but I don't think we are there yet. She also says that when she runs she gets wet there (I am not sure if that is pleasure or pee). Since her reporting of this wetness has just been about two to three weeks, I have just responded by saying "sometimes us girls have bodily fluids coming out of different places and it's a part of life"; last night we made a joke about girls springing leaks. She usually she asks right before bed and the few times I've said let's talk more about it tomorrow. I am not sure where/what/how to address this in an age appropriate, positive, healthy manner that will not in the future embarrass her.

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I think the time is now. Books like It’s Perfectly Normal and The American Girl Book (The Care and Keeping of You, The Body Book for Younger Girls) are probably appropriate for her. Note that American Girl publishes a book for older girls, and one for younger ones.  Reviews on Amazon for those books are really helpful! Check them out (they're actually probably even available at the library) and see if you think it’s right for your family. Some girls enter menarche as early as nine (!), although usually later, but there’s nothing wrong with starting the conversation about puberty now. Same with sexuality. Setting aside for The Talk, on some Future Time and Place, can set up a pretty awkward chat. In my experience, it’s easier to have smaller chats as they come up, and the subject can be directed/chosen by the child. Information is power! Help your daughter figure out what’s going on when she’s pleasuring herself, when it’s appropriate to do so, that everyone does it (even you!) and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Good luck!

I can give you my perspective as a mother of boys. Boys are pretty keen on self-touching, beginning in the toddler years and then, well, forever!  The behavior itself is perfectly normal. The key is that this is *private* behavior. As soon as the kids were old enough to speak, we'd just coach them, consistently, that touching yourself is for private time -- alone in bed or in the bathroom, and "we don't do it in public."  If they forgot and touched themselves, we'd remind them again, have them wash their hands, and carry on. There was no shaming involved, just a very clear boundary about what is socially acceptable and what is not. IMHO, you will really help your daughter (and prevent an actual shaming situation, or worse) by making this clear to her.


Your daughter could simply be having a Urinary Tract Infection. You could have it checked out by her Pediatrician. You could discuss this with her doctor too. The main concern at her age would be that frequent rubbing down there could lead to an infection. Perhaps if you explain this to her simply she might understand. You could say that it feels good but can burn if the skin gets rubbed too much. She might need pantyliners until this is resolved.

If your goal is to not embarrass her, I think you need to proceed slowly and separate what sounds like two separate issues. You say she reports wetness when she runs. Assuming she does not have a UTI or other infection, as another response suggested (and you could definitely rule this out with a doctor appointment), it's most likely that what she is experiencing is completely normal vaginal discharge. I don't know any women who report "pleasure" from running, although I suppose it's possible. But it is very common for girls entering puberty to have a heavy discharge that comes and goes, which through gravity and anatomy would likely be more noticeable when running. Some girls need to use a panty liner when the discharge is heaviest. It sounds like you've started a pretty normal conversation about this, so perhaps confirm with a doctor that it's not a medical problem and then further explain that this is normal for girls. I would not talk about "pleasure" as it relates to this as it's likely not the case (at least not all the time) and could embarrass her later. Next, I would address the self-touching or rubbing if that's something you've actually witnessed. I would ask her directly if she's experiencing any itching or pain, and barring that, explain simply that we don't touch our private areas in the presence of others. Remind her that it's private. I think that will be sufficient in the short term and you can break out the sex books shortly after, once you feel her immediate questions have been answered and she is ready for more information. Basically I would just not link all wetness to sexual pleasure as it's really not accurate and would only likely embarrass her later on. 

Your daughter's behavior is totally normal and healthy, and so is your discomfort! Sounds like you are doing a great job by explaining to her that girls have bodily fluids that come out of different places! To echo what others have said: the time to talk to her is now. Go practical - talk about her biology. Name the parts, and try to do it without shame or embarrassment. She's not too young to understand. Explain that this is her "pleasure center" and that masturbation is totally normal but something saved for private times and places, like her bedroom. Shaming or expressing embarrassment about kids' sexual behavior leads to anxiety around their physical bodies and sex, rather than a healthy acceptance of biological urges. It doesn't sound like a UTI - she'd report painful burning when she urinates, and it sounds the the "wetness" is directly linked to the rubbing. I'd also tell her that she should be the only one touching this part of herself. Sex ed is best taught early - better she learn from you than from the internet!

- A doctor :)