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kenamety

Helping children with addiction

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My 6-year-old daugther has been struggling with masturbation for a few years now. I have counseled, taught and helped her in every way I can think, but she still struggles with the addiction. Does anyone have any ideas of how to help her stop. I can find no answers anywhere else, because to the world, masturbation is accepted. Please help me. I'll take any advice I can get.

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My 6-year-old daugther has been struggling with masturbation for a few years now. I have counseled, taught and helped her in every way I can think, but she still struggles with the addiction. Does anyone have any ideas of how to help her stop. I can find no answers anywhere else, because to the world, masturbation is accepted. Please help me. I'll take any advice I can get.

Your daughter is six years old. She's not sexually exciting herself. She's exploring her body. You may not like it, but the physical exploration is completely normal. She's not old enough or developed enough to understand the sexual side of it.

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wingnut,

I appreciate your advice and I wish that it was her just exploring her body, but being one who struggled with masterbation from a very young age, I have to say that there is definately more going on than innocent exploration. I know she doesn't understand the sexual side of things, but she is definately pursuing feeling of pleasure. This is one reason I'm so worried, is because she is so young. I wish I could just say that she's just exploring herself. That would be much easier. However, I don't believe this is the case.

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Your daughter is six years old. She's not sexually exciting herself. She's exploring her body. You may not like it, but the physical exploration is completely normal. She's not old enough or developed enough to understand the sexual side of it.

False. It is not uncommon for girls 5 or younger to be able to bring themselves to orgasm.

That is a difficult situation because of her age, kenamety. It's hard to tell a child not to scratch an itch. It is a hard enough concept for many adults, let alone a 6 yo. Do you live in an area where LDS Social Services might be available to assist with counseling? Perhaps there are other faith-based therapists in the area that could assist with exploring the situation and coming up with possible solutions?

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False. It is not uncommon for girls 5 or younger to be able to bring themselves to orgasm.

I don't doubt that. What I said was that they don't understand the sexual component of it. They do it because it feels good.

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As a child she absolutely do NOT understand what she's doing. There is a natural sensation and need for it. I'm curious as to how you know she's doing that?

I recommend that you let it go for now. When she's older you can talk about it but there can become an invasive feeling when having a parent harping on a child for something. I saw all three of my children do it when they were little. I ignored it and by the time they were older and could understand, usually around 8 or 9, I talked to them. Did they stop? I don't know, but they didn't do it in front of me and I figured I'd let them sort it out for themselves.

Children do deserve discretion and privacy.

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Of course she is too young to understand that the activity is deemed by adults to be 'sexual' in nature. That is not where your statement was misguided.

You said: "She's not sexually exciting herself. She's exploring her body." That is patently false. It is sexual excitement - and that is why it "feels good". It's not so simple as exploration just on the basis of "completely normal" development. As such, kenamety is right in seeking answers, and doesn't need casual dismissal of what might cause her daughter great struggles growing up.

Edit: I think many are not aware that there is "normal" levels of exploration, and then there is a whole other class that goes well beyond that. It is very possible to have hyper-sexuality at a very young age. Understanding that is important in determining when there should or should not be intervention.

Edited by ryanh

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Thanks ryanh for understanding. I wish I could dismiss it until later. It's not that easy. She excites herself in the car and other places as well, like watching a movie or just in her bed. If I never saw it, I obviously wouldn't care. But I can't just ask her to do it in private, because that would give her permission to do it.

Cassiopeia, I could tell you how I know she's doing it, but I feel it is too graphic to be shared. But, being one who masturbated at a young age, I know what she's doing. I know children touch themselves and such, but this is more than just touching and exploring. I can't ignore it when she's doing it right in front of me. I don't want to make her feel guilty about it, but I don't want to see it either. Also, I am a little worried about it happening at school.

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Of course she is too young to understand that the activity is deemed by adults to be 'sexual' in nature. That is not where your statement was misguided.

You said: "She's not sexually exciting herself. She's exploring her body." That is patently false. It is sexual excitement - and that is why it "feels good".

So which is it? Of course she doesn't understand that it's sexual, so how can it be sexually exciting? It can't be. It's not sexual excitement if it's not sexual in nature, which to the average 6-year-old, it's not. Perhaps this young girl is hyper-sexual and maturing faster than average, but I'm speaking in generalities.

Edited by Wingnut

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Yes, it is disturbing, especially to me, since I'm her mother! It doesn't really matter whether it's sexual or not to her at this point. She's materbating and she shouldn't be. Obviously she doesn't understand the seriousness of what she's doing, but the question is...what do I do about it. Sexual or not, it's unacceptable behavior and I can't have her doing it all over the place! I dont' want an argument, I just want help. This is a serious, disturbing matter. It's a real problem and I'm just looking for answers.

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Thanks ryanh for understanding. I wish I could dismiss it until later. It's not that easy. She excites herself in the car and other places as well, like watching a movie or just in her bed. If I never saw it, I obviously wouldn't care. But I can't just ask her to do it in private, because that would give her permission to do it.

Cassiopeia, I could tell you how I know she's doing it, but I feel it is too graphic to be shared. But, being one who masturbated at a young age, I know what she's doing. I know children touch themselves and such, but this is more than just touching and exploring. I can't ignore it when she's doing it right in front of me. I don't want to make her feel guilty about it, but I don't want to see it either. Also, I am a little worried about it happening at school.

Okay so I don't know what discussions you've had with her but perhaps if you haven't already, you need to ask her why she's doing it. Don't get into "this is wrong"...but rather ask her why she's doing it. I would scoop her up in your arms and sit with her in a quiet place and be very open with her about it. Sometimes, when a child feels safe in talking we get to the bottom of things. It might be that something has caused her vaginal itching and she discovered that masturbating made it feel better and so picked up the habit.

Does she have a pattern? Like was she very upset when she started doing it? Does she do it now to get your attention?

Do you see what I mean?

As her mom, you have to be able to set aside your fears and frustration over it and let her talk openly to you about why she's doing it.

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Obviously she doesn't understand the seriousness of what she's doing, but the question is...what do I do about it.

I go back to my original response: nothing. In your case, where she's doing it in public areas, you need to have a conversation with her about that. I know you're worried that telling her to do it in her room condones it, but I disagree. You need to teach her about modesty and general decorum. Just as farting, picking our noses, and belching are not appropriate behaviors in public areas and when other people are around, neither is touching our private parts. There are some things that should only be done in private. Leave it in ambiguous terms. In another couple of years if it's still going on, and when she can actually comprehend what you want to teach her, you can address the sexual side of it.

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I'm with Wingnut on this. Treat it like any other undesired behavior. What do you do if you see her picking her nose in public? What do you do if you see her pulling up her shirt in public? What do you do if you see her kiss a stranger in public?

Your reaction to all of these things should be consistent. If you treat one with more severity than the others then you'll have to explain why which, at age 6, may not be the right time.

A method I have used to stop undesirable behavior in my kids when they were little is by distraction. When my kids were very little - like 16 months or so - they love turning the TV on and off - while we're watching it. I'm sure many of you know what I'm talking about. Instead of saying No a gazillion times - which just leads them to do it more because they start to like getting a reaction out of me - I would say No then punch the button on their light-up toys or turn on their ball-popper and it usually makes them lose interest on the TV. My sons are older now - the youngest one is 6 years old - and distraction still works on him especially when he's going hyper-crazed around the house. Like - I don't want them sitting infront of the TV for more than an hour - so when I catch him glued to the TV, I would explain again why we don't sit infront of the TV too long and then give him a different engaging activity.

Edited by anatess

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My 6-year-old daugther has been struggling with masturbation for a few years now. I have counseled, taught and helped her in every way I can think, but she still struggles with the addiction. Does anyone have any ideas of how to help her stop. I can find no answers anywhere else, because to the world, masturbation is accepted. Please help me. I'll take any advice I can get.

Kenamety, in my view this is more common than you think. There are many reasons for this behavior, from exploring their bodies to being sexually molested to stress and lots of other causes. If I was you, I would contact a therapist/child psychologist (preferably LDS, because of their view point about masturbation in general) and see what's going on. I wish you and your daughter all the best.

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Guest mirancs8

Yes, it is disturbing, especially to me, since I'm her mother! It doesn't really matter whether it's sexual or not to her at this point. She's materbating and she shouldn't be. Obviously she doesn't understand the seriousness of what she's doing, but the question is...what do I do about it. Sexual or not, it's unacceptable behavior and I can't have her doing it all over the place! I dont' want an argument, I just want help. This is a serious, disturbing matter. It's a real problem and I'm just looking for answers.

I feel for you Kenamety. As a parent it has to be so difficult for you to have to see and the feeling of not knowing what to do. I'm sure you feel confused and at times you probably hope she'll just stop. I would suggest speaking to LDS Social Services for help. I'm sure they have therapist that are experienced in this area. You need help dealing with this obviously and there is nothing wrong with seeking therapy. If anything at least you'll know you have done everything in your power as a parent to address the issue.

My parents were from a era of ignore it and it will take care of itself... very bad way to approach the problem in my experience. I prefer to be realistic about the severity of the issue and seeking whatever help would be appropriate to help the child. I definitely wouldn't put this behavior at the same level as a child picking their nose or passing gas that's for sure.

We all have given you our opinions and advise but in the end pray about it and you will receive your answer as to what you should do.

I will keep you in my prayers.

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I would talk to her peditrician without your daughter being able to hear. I wonder if there is a hormonal problem going on as well as a possible infection. Also she needs to know about good touching and bad touching from others. I could see how a lot of perverts would see your daughter as easy prey. Also don't shame her about her body. Our society alreadys makes it hard enough for our daughters.

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I agree with Urban Fool I find this disturbing. Especially in light of the discussions I have had with Youth in the church. I am not in anyway condoning masturbation, however It upsets me when parents go our of their way to destroy their child's self esteem and tell them that sexual feelings, are dirty, wrong and evil. At 6 she is completely innocent, you are projecting your own adult guilt onto a small child. She cannot at this stage distinguish completely between the act and the feeling. You tell her it is evil and wrong now you tell her that sex is those things. And its not its how we behave that can be sinful.

Instead explain to her some things like nose picking, using the toilet, running around naked are best done in private. Right now she isn't sinning. And then use the Teach Them Correct Principles and let them govern themselves.

Teach her about her own beauty, fill her full of inner confidence and self esteem. A teen with self esteem can say NO to any behaviour much easier. Teach her about sex and her body, do it from a young age so its not a dirty secret or something that makes her feel guilty for being a sexual being, something we all are. It is much easier to say NO when you know what you are saying NO too. At 6 and 3 my older two know enough to know sex is how Mummy and Daddy make babies. Mummy has a period every month which means she is not pregnant and makes her bad tempered so you have to be better behaved during that time:)

Let her know her body is a temple, and that she is a daughter of God. Teach her the beautiful positives of the law of chastity, how it can enrich her boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. How it can when used properly help you objectively choose you husband. And even better it adds to the marital relationship knowing their is noone else. If she breaks the law of chastity she will never experience the beauty of a marriage having obeyed it.

Teach her so she stops because she knows to masturbate is the wrong way to express her sexual feelings. Keep the lines of communication open and be positive about her feelings, after all without them we wouldn't have children.

Double check there isn't a physical reason and she is uncomfortable, but don't tell her what she is feeling is wrong or evil. Teach her instead about the law of chastity and virtue. She will find it much easier to say no if she can talk her feelings out positively during her teen years, than being left alone in a room to fester or discussing it with other teenagers.

Counselling etc is just going to make her feel weird and freaky, and make saying NO to any chastity issue later much harder. She will feel she is awful

Edited by Elgama

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I can't stress enough how important what Elgama said to you is.

Please take great care not to destroy your child's self esteem and attitudes towards her sexuality and sex. Without the right approach you could actually harm her and traumatize her. She's only 6 years old.

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