Last week's 'Question of the Week' in jackinworld.com was interesting. It asked what people thought children should be told about masturbation. I forgot to answer until it was too late, but I suspect many people feel the way I do about that.
I always felt that kids should be told the facts about masturbation as early as they experience the feelings that lead to it. Let me explain.
As some others I have seen on this site, I was a very early masturbator. I started before grade school, so I must have been around 5 years old. I did it by climbing on my swing set or any other upright thing that was small enough to get my legs around so I could press my penis against it and rub it. I did that in my backyard, in the school playground, at the park down the street, or anywhere I happened to be. I did it most days if I could, and sometimes several times a day. I loved the feeling of my immature orgasm, and sought to get that feeling any time I could. I knew people could see me, but I didn't associate it with anything wrong or bad or embarrassing until when I was somewhere around 9 years old when a friend who used to do it with me one day said he wasn't allowed to do that anymore because his mother had told him it was 'dirty.' No one had ever said that to me, but I had been starting to feel like maybe it wasn't a good thing to do in public. In fact I had noticed on a couple of occasions when I did it at the park that older boys would sometimes watch me carefully when I did it, and the look on their faces made me feel funny. One guy in particular stared at me several times, and the look on his face made me kind of nervous. I realized later that my activity was a turnon for him and might have triggered a reaction that wouldn't have been good. That was way back before kids were warned about sexual abuse, predators, etc., so that could have led to a nasty surprise for me.
So I took my masturbation indoors to the privacy of my room or the family room when no one was around. My favorite way was to bunch up my pillow and put it between my legs and hump it while laying on top of it. I also used an old teddy bear. Many a night I would fall asleep after my nightly orgasm with my pillow or teddy bear firmly nestled between my legs with my penis lodged in a crevice.
Then one day my mother and sister were talking. I don't remember what the conversation was all about, but I do remember one remark from my sister: 'At least he's finally taken his dirty little habit into his room rather than the back yard.' My face grew red and hot from embarrassment, as that remark clearly told me that people around me knew what I did, and that they thought it was 'dirty.' I was mortified at the thought not only that my family knew what I did in my bed, but also that everyone around me had seen me masturbating for years in public. That embarrassment stuck with me for all my teen years, and was a humiliation for me.
I just wish someone had clued me in while I was a little kid that I shouldn't do that in public. Hopefully they wouldn't have given the practice itself a negative spin, but if I hadn't been so public about it I wouldn't have felt humiliated for so many years. I remember when I was in high school that the kid next door, who was about 6 or 7 at the time, mounted his swing set like I used to do. I watched him a couple of times, and was glad for him that he had discovered that nice feeling, but I was concerned for him as well that he might be embarrassed about doing it in public when he got older. So one day I went over to talk to him. I explained that I knew what he was doing, that I did the same thing and really enjoyed it, but that he should do it in private, and suggested how (like using his pillow). He looked a little embarrassed that I had caught him at it, but seemed genuinely appreciative of being clued in. He even thanked me a couple of months later, and said he actually liked his pillow better than the pole, anyway.
I have raised two boys, both of whom started playing with themselves at an early age. I was determined that they not experience the negative feelings I did, so at the first sign of such play, I carefully explained that it was OK to do that because it felt good, but to do it in private. I even suggested that they could do it under a comforter while watching morning cartoons, and they did, without guilt. I can remember the sight of two boys sitting on opposite ends of the couch with comforters over them, and their arms moving slowly and gently as they gave themselves pleasure. They had the fortune of growing up without the negative feelings I had felt.