Dear David Coleman: How can I help my seven-year-old daughter, who doesn't even realise she is doing it, to stop masturbating in school?

Question: I have a seven-year-old daughter who masturbates often. She has almost completely stopped at home (she usually does it in her car seat) but it is now a big issue at school. Her teacher has told me she does it everyday, as soon as she gets onto her seat. We have talked to our daughter and she doesn’t even know she’s doing it most times and cannot stop. Have you any advice?

David replies: Masturbation itself is not a problem. The issue is, usually, about the frequency, method or location of the masturbation. It seems you have managed to get your daughter to significantly reduce the frequency of masturbating at home, and so the best way to help her at school might be to apply the same strategies there.

Naturally, though, you’ll need her teacher to be willing to assist. So, the teacher’s attitude to your daughter’s behaviour is really important.

The fact that your daughter is not aware of what she is doing is significant.

You and the teacher need to devise a simple way of signalling your daughter that she is making the movements on her chair, so that she can be alerted to her own behaviour.

For example, if, when your daughter begins her movements on the chair, the teacher may be willing to walk past, placing a hand on your daughter’s shoulder as she passes. This may be a discreet, but noticeable enough, signal for your daughter to stop.

You can also repeat your core message when she is home, that masturbation is only allowed when she has privacy.

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