QUESTION: Inappropriate Behaviors?

QUESTION:

I have a first grade student who constantly rubs his bottom on the edges of a chair, his shoe (if sitting on the floor) etc. When wearing stretchy pants, he puts his hands down them. He also plays with his nipples. This all has been going on for 2 years at least, but appears to be getting worse. Move ’n Sit cushions don’t help. I have read your section on masturbation. We do calming activities, but will try more. Do you have any more specific suggestions for this student. He is sensitive to his environment and it is probably calming, but he is starting to do it all day.

Thanks!

GWEN’S ANSWER:

Sounds like you are already onto the sensory aspect of this behavior. A few things to think about:

  • Excessive masturbation in kids this age can be a red flag for sexual abuse. But that’s obviously a very serious accusation so talk to the team and decide together whether you feel it’s justified to contact child protective services.
  • As a team, determine the most appropriate person to have a direct conversation with the child about this behavior. He needs to know it’s inappropriate and why (makes other uncomfortable, we only touch our private parts in private, etc.). If the parents are involved and willing, the dad would probably be the best one to deal with this.
  • Let the child know the team wants to help him end this habit so you will be using rewards and consequences as indicated. Rewards would be for a set of amount of time that he refrained from this behavior. It’s best to phrase it something like “using your hands and feet appropriately.” Consequences would be for engaging in these behaviors publicly. Make sure there is no shame attached and that you aren’t punishing him for the action itself; rather the consequence is for the public nature of the activity, which is very similar to teaching manners like not picking your nose or “tooting” (passing gas) in public.

I hope that helps!

Best Wishes,
Gwen