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Children's Health

Toddler masturbation

05/11/2009

Question:

Hi i have a 41/2 year old girl who has been masturbating from 6months old. (wiggling in her chair) i have seen numerous people health visitor . gp .peadiatrician all telling me she will grow out of it? now it is more stimulating rubbing against anything heavy breathing ect: This has not been the case she has gone 5 months out of her 4 years without doing it she does it at pre- school ,home basically any where.

It is causing problems at school with her learning and socializing.

The last time she was doing it badly we made her bedroom her (special room).

This does not appear to be working she starts reception class in september i am out of my wit with worry for her.

the eposodes can go on between 5 mins to 2 hours i have tried to limit her time with an egg timer but this just breaks cicle for a while.

PLEASE PLEASE CAN YOU HELP.

I love my daughter very much but i am really struggling of how to cope and deal with this delicate situation.

many thanks

Answer:

Certainly, I can understand your frustration and concern and I commend you for your understanding of this natural behavior.  What I would suggest is that you discuss the situation with your daughter's primary care provider and discuss a referral to a behavioral pediatrician who can discuss and help you implement a plan that will allow you daughter to develop appropriately and also attend and thrive in school.  As you correctly point out, this is natural, but she has other natural needs that must be met as well.

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Response by:

Michael Spigarelli, MD, PhD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati