Originally Posted by janey99
If this behavior did not have a sexual component that some are reluctant to curb because of their views of sexual freedom, would anyone have a problem telling a kid to stop doing something that is hurting her? Don't we have that responsibility as parents? It does seem there's an element of compusion to it, and that's not entirely healthy regardless of the outlet, plus at 6.5, I'm not sure she's old enough to do the analysis, and then carry out the actions, of "this hurts after a while so I have to stop before it does." I mean, plenty of adults with compulsive or addictive tendencies can't do that, YKWIM?
Jane, I agree with this. I think it's totally fine for kids to masturbate, but that it's not okay for kids to purposefully harm themselves. If a child was making any other part of her body
red, raw, bloody and painful, most parents/people would see the need to help her stop. Why should it be different just because it's her vulva??
My suggestions would be:
1. Get the girl some kind of healing cream/ointment/oil/whatever, framed as "medicine" or "remedy" to help heal the injury... not as lubricant to make the masturbating feel better, because that's not the point. If she is rubbing herself to the point where it hurts
, that is a compulsion that needs adult help, not just normal masturbating because it feels good.
2. Explore the stressors in her life, by talking with her, and the adults in her life.
Also, keep a log of when she rubs herself - write the location, time, duration, what's going on in the situation, etc., to see if there's a pattern to it or if there are any insights to be gleaned. e.g. does she rub herself when she is feeling anxious, and it calms her? Does she rub when she is trying to avoid being talked to, or asked to do something, and the behavior distracts the adults so the situation changes? Does she rub herself out of boredom when there's nothing going on, or as a way to "tune out" when there's too MUCH going on? Etc., etc. Figuring out what positive results she is getting from the behavior is the key to figuring out how to address it, and get her needs met in other ways.
And yes, I am assuming that she is NOT rubbing herself out of a genuine need/desire for the pleasurable, sexual feelings. Because it's not pleasurable, if she's rubbing to the point of making her vulva raw, bloody, and painful to the point where it hurts when she pees.
3. Based upon observations of the context of her rubbing and what needs it may be fulfilling for her, strategize new ways of helping her meet those needs. Examples:
- yoga and breathing exercises for stress relief
- fidgety objects to hold in class, if she needs something like this to help her focus - a Koosh ball, squishy toy, lump of clay, a piece of rope with lots of knots to untie, etc.
- more sensory experiences, such as a swatch of velvet or suede to rub and touch, fingerpainting with shaving cream or pudding, bubble wrap, swinging, merry-go-rounds, sandcastle-building, playdough/clay, that cornstarch-and-water mixture that's both hard and soft, silly putty (mixture of elmer's glue and laundry starch), healthy gum to chew, etc.
- self-expression methods to relieve stress and anxieties, such as journaling, art, using puppets to talk
4. Talk with her honestly about the problem:
"Lots of girls, when they are in private, like to rub their vulvas because it feels good! But it should only feel good - if it hurts, there's a problem. See how rubbing TOO much makes your skin red and painful." Ask her for her thoughts and ideas. But like you said, Jane, it's too much to expect a 6.5-yr-old to be able to figure out, on her own, how to stop a compulsion... which is why I am suggesting all the other things in 2. and 3.
Helping a child stop injuring her genitals
is really not the same as shaming her for masturbating!