Masturbation, anxiety and more...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jessica mom of 2, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. Jessica mom of 2

    Jessica mom of 2 New Member

    I am reaching out because I am growing worried. I am starting to seek a doctor for her to see but for now, I wanted to see what you all thought.

    Is anxiety hereditary? Many people in my husbands family has it.
    She has anxiety which has improved some since starting elem school. But it still very much so exist! Loud noises, likes for me to be right there with her all the time (public) , asking other people questions (speaking), worries about what others think (about her clothes, about what she said etc.) She will not at all use a public restroom if it has automatic flush. It terrifies her. She ask me "is it like our potty at home?" (She feels safe using one at home)

    She also has sensory integration disorder. Clothes are a huge problem for her, not just once a week but EVERYDAY! Socks, shirt, pants, the way they feel, the way the shirt hangs, its too long or the pants are to long etc. On and on and on...UGH!

    She also masturbates, ALOT! It has gotten to a point where I think she does it in her sleep. She is doing this alot! I have spoken with a doctor about this, many docs actually and they have all told me its very normal not to worry...but??? Most things are NORMAL until its done EXCESSIVELY, right? So what do I do? I have had a talk with her about it and explained its something you do in private. I haven't openly said go to your room to do it but I did say don't do it in front of others and wash your hands when your finished. I am very soft spoken about this as well. Don't want her to think I am upset with her for this.

    She can be aggressive. She isn't BiPolar (BP), but she can be sweet and I ask her to do something and she stomps louder than you know what and says WHY DO I HAVE TO....and so on. She can get angry, frustrated, ill tempered pretty easy.

    She turned 6 in Oct.
    She has a sister with severe ADHD.

    Please, any advice, throw it at me!
    Thanks alot!
  2. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Wow, you have your hands full!
    Not sure I have any advice, but would mention that hypersexuality is a red flag for BiPolar (BP). Sounds like your handling it like all the "pros" tell ya too...keep it up and hopefully an evaluation will shed some light.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    In my humble opinion, masturbating excessively at just turning 6 is NOT normal. I don't give a hoot what the docs told you. I'd be worried about that as well. Sounds like you're handling that situation with her pretty well though.

    Anxiety tends to run in family's, so I guess you can say it can be inherited. (I'm pretty sure it is)

    My both my difficult child have sensory issues, major ones. A major PITA for sure. Nichole's was all the clothing ones mainly. Travis' was more environmental/sounds ect. (I couldn't win lol)

    Nichole used to rip all the tags out of her shirts because they drove her nuts, she wore her socks wrong side out because the seam at the toe she couldn't stand to feel, clothes had to be soft cotton, had to "feel" right..... You don't want me to get into the time she decided her clothes had to be super tight. Not just the shirt, but the pants with a belt fastened so tight she could barely breathe, shoes tied so tight I had to keep checking the circulation.... That one was awful. :smirk:

    With the combination of issues, I'd have her evaled. There are disorders that have hypersexuality (like the excessive masterbation) and anxiety as part of the symptoms. People with bipolar often have both, and I'm thinking there may have been another one, but I'm a bit brain dead tonight after being in school all day.

  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'd be thinking about getting a thorough multidisciplinary evaluation also.

    And while BiPolar (BP) needs to be considered, it also fits with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).

    With the masturbation, this can be social inappropriateness, lack of being self-conscious about it and could also fit in with the Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) plus Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - also part of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).

    My mother's way of dealing with kids who masturbate too much (especially in front of her) - she would tell them not to do it or they would "make it sore". Which is pretty much true. And groping herself in that area is also an anxiety thing. We have a terrible time with difficult child 3 with it; same thing with difficult child 1 when he was younger. Their school shorts (uniform) were grey, but the front of their shorts was always a darker grey, from all the excessive handling. Currently, difficult child 3 will put his hands down the front of his shorts without even thinking, I have to keep telling him to not do it, he's old enough now to be told it's unacceptable to do this in front of other people or in public. But he forgets.

    It feels good, so much of everything else does not. So they do it without even thinking. It's not necessarily hypersexual.

    Have you checked out the unofficial Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire on See if it rings bells. You can print it out and take it to a doctor, but you can't use it to diagnose in any formal way.

  5. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I also don't think masturbating at 6 sounds normal. My son started even younger-about 4 years old. We told him it needed to be done only in the privacy of his bedroom, even the doctor told him which helped.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Masturbation isn't always hypersexuality. In fact, I believe hypersexuality means something like a six year old flirting or trying to do inappropriate sexual things to another child. Masturbation can relieve anxiety. I do think it sounds excessive. I'm judging by my own five kids--they never masturbated like that. At any rate, I also have an (shock!) in my opinion she needs to see a neuropsychologist. Although we can't diagnose, she sounds more "quirky" and "different" and should be evaluated in detail for autistic spectrum disorder. That would fit with the high anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Sensory Integration Disorder (SID). My Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) son can hear somebody whispering two rooms away and will wail "Don't talk so loud!" He covers his ears at the movies if it's too loud. Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) is a big part of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Since Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is NOT a psychiatric disorder, although it mimics one, a neuropsychologist is better than a therapist or psychologist or even psychiatrist. A NeuroPsychologist is a psychologist with extra training in the brain--he will test for hours and can spot stuff other professionals miss and can give you his opinion, based on that testing, of if she is on the spectrum or if she has a mood disorder (I have a mood disorder and to me it doesn't sound like that). Sounds a lot like she is socially clueless, which is another big red flag for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Anxiety is part of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but, yes, it runs in families. Good luck :wink:
  7. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    You start out your post saying that you are seeking a doctor for your daughter. You are doing the right thing. I'm not going to guess as to what is going on, but I will tell you that she needs a complete evaluation. The anxiety issue is something I can relate to because my son has it, to a lesser degree.

    You are right to seek out and begin the evaluation process. Hugs.

  8. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi Jessica! You've gotten a lot of good advice. Are you having a neuropsychologist done? It's probably best because of all of the various issues going on.

    Does she keep eye contact with people?

    I was sort of thinking along the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), autistic, aspergers areas myself (what a shocker - I have 2 aspies and an anxiety maven!).

    Sometimes masturbation isn't a sexual issue, for some kids with anxiety it's a calming technique (I can think of a few more socially acceptable ones, but at 5 who cares about what's socially acceptable?).

    Go for the neuro (they take a while to get an appointment) and get some answers that will help you figure out the best course of action.

    Good luck with it!

  9. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Another vote that this isn't hypersexuality but anxiety relief behavior. As one said hypersexuality usually manifests itself at 6 with more sexual-type flirtation, rubbing the body against another, etc.

    I'm wondering what "ALOT" means. What may seem excessive to you may actually well be within normal limits. Many young children will masturbate while watching television without even being aware they are touching themselves, let alone masturbating. If she is doing it in public, it is much more of a problem. There is nothing wrong with gently reminding her that masturbation is a private act and should be done in privacy. When mine did it, I simply reminded her to do it in her room in a gentle voice. Amazingly, since there was no TV in her room, it stopped the public masturbation for the simple reason that she liked television more.

    Given the sensory issues, the anxiety, your concerns about her general behavior and a sister with severe ADHD, it would probably be a good idea to have as complete an evaluation as you can get. You might get some relief for some of your concerns and some real answers.
  10. Jessica mom of 2

    Jessica mom of 2 New Member

    ALOT means while watching tv (with others in room), play time in room (will briefly stop to do it), every night in bed, last night I went in there after she had been asleep for a few hours and she was laying in that position with hands down there but asleep. I was putting clothes in her drawers and she slightly woke up enough to do it for a few seconds and fell back asleep. So really it seems she is doing it in her sleep.

    She also has trouble falling asleep. Does that fall in with any of the things you all mentioned?

    Child is smart as a tick! She has always had a large vocab. and is very intelligent. She has the ability to accomplish alot of things but most of the time, she gets mad or frustrated and won't allow herself to finish.

    She has also showed aggression towards herself. Pulling hair, hitting herself, hitting her fist on the walls etc.

    Thank you to everyone!!!
  11. blb

    blb New Member

    Hi Jessica,

    I have not been here in quite a while, but still lurk, and when I saw your post I had to respond. I too had a "little wiggler" on my hands, from age 4-8, and I can tell you that at age 9 there is light at the end of the tunnel that is not the oncoming train. Some of the seasoned folks from this board will remember my posts as I freaked out about the concept of my four-year-old playing with herself what felt like 24-7.

    My oldest is, for lack of a better term, Aspie-light. Let's see, fear of loud noises, lining up books, toys, wanting everything just so, loud speech, repeating words, humming to the point that you want to invest in earphones, incredibly intelligent, stickler for detail when it's something she wants to do, attention issues, pedantic conversation where you really don't have to do anything other than nod your head and she will keep going.

    Fear of flushing toilets (and yes, the automatic ones terrify her,) would not go to sleep at night before 10:30 if we didn't give her melatonin (god bless those who make the dropper version) Also, speech delays (She was diagnosis'ed for articulation at age 3) and gross motor delays that after four years of physical and speech therapy have ameliorated themselves dramatically.

    I have been there done that. And I'm going to jump into the fray and say maybe it's not anxiety. Maybe it's not hypersexuality. Maybe it's not BiPolar (BP). Perhaps you should ask your daughter why she does it. I asked mine, and was told "Because it feels good." And she meant it

    She also meant that when she was 6 after her class had made potato latkes for some holiday function and she wanted to touch the oil in the latke pan because "she wanted to know how the oil felt" being the sensory child she is (no seam sock baby here)--ten fingers burned later, yep.

    Or when she was 7 and was caught licking sand in the playground at school one recess..."Why did you do that honey?" "I wanted to know what it tasted like Mom."

    easy child-1 did the wiggling thang from about age four through to age eight, and it was an every day occurrence. With others in the room she tried to be somewhat covert, but I must have spent a good couple of months sending her to her room for "private time." Doing that worked in that if she wanted to be watching tv but got caught being inappropriate, she was sent to her room for "private time" since I explained to her she was not allowed to do that in front of other people. So she learned to stop doing that in public. But every night, it was what she did before bed. I can tell you I pulled my collective hair out for a few years. Bribery, punishment, trying to put a limit on the time she, ahem, focused on, ahem herself, virtually nothing worked other than to explain to her that her only option was in her room, privately, and if she was caught doing it in public there would be a consequence.

    At nine, she hardly does it anymore...thank GOD!!! But I can tell you that other than consequence her when she tried to do it in public worked a lot. Other than giving her melatonin at bedtime, which at least limited the amount of time she would do it at night

    So, my response to you is, take a deep breath, don't freak, and get her evaluated by a reputable Children's hospital that can do a full evaluation (including a neuropsychologist evaluation as MWM and others have mentioned) that would test for Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)/Autism/Aspergers among others (and don't freak about the label, just look at it as a means of diagnosis so that you can help her to do her best in life)

    Hope this helps

    ps I also want to add, noting the post below, that my daughter was never abused sexually, she never really for the most part even had a sitter, in part due to her quirkiness--she was a very difficult baby. And due to my husband's employment, I was her caretaker about 98% of the time. The other two percent was with either my husband, a good family friend or my babysitter, who was a clinical social worker.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    In spite of being very bright, how does she do in school? Does she know how to socialize well with her peers? Does she have good, steady eye contact with people other than family members?
    I still vote for the neuropsychologist. She could have Aspergers, which would be easy for even a Psychiatrist (with the MD) to miss and certainly therapists tend to miss that--it has just been recognized as a high functioning form of autism now for ten years. If she doesn't have that, and it's something else, a neuropsychologist will still have evaluated her to the oomph degree. Good luck!
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    In spite of being very bright, how does she do in school? Does she know how to socialize well with her peers? Does she have good, steady eye contact with people other than family members? Any obsessive interests or behaviors? In spite of her good vocabulary now, did she ever have a speech delay or strange speech? Can she hold a give and take conversation?
    I still vote for the neuropsychologist. She could have Aspergers, which would be easy for even a Psychiatrist (with the MD) to miss and certainly therapists tend to miss that--it has just been recognized as a high functioning form of autism now for ten years. If she doesn't have that, and it's something else, a neuropsychologist will still have evaluated her to the oomph degree. Good luck!
  14. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I would also explore any chance that she was sexually abused. That behavior can be one of the many things mentioned - but it can also be indicative of sexual abuse.
  15. blb

    blb New Member

    Found these that Elise, another long time board member, gave me when I first started wondering what was going on with my easy child 1 back in 2001, we initially thought it was anxiety with easy child 1 because my difficult child lived with us back then and was extremely violent around her.

    Elise's son I believe was also given a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) diagnosis, as was my daughter originally. She had the tell tale triad of gross motor deficits, speech deficits and social skills deficits. Maybe you could take it and see if any of it rings true for when you go about getting some help. (test) (scoring)
  16. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Have you considered a yeast infection? Has your daughter taken a lot of antibiotics? My son had taken a lot of antibiotics when he was both a newborn and as a toddler. Eventually he developed a yeast infection under his foreskin. I took him to the pediatrician who decided he was masturbating and instructed him to do it privately. I was sure it wasn't masturbation. A wise nurse quietly alerted me to the fact that creams used to treat yeast vaginal yeast infections had just gone OTC and that I could get some without a prescription. Once we treated the yeast infection, the "masturbation" stopped.
  17. Jessica mom of 2

    Jessica mom of 2 New Member

    she has been masturbating since 2 yrs. of age. Excessively since 3 years.

    I had a little mommy daughter talk with her tonight. She told me that "it felt good" ???? I can't believe it. Well, I know she gets a different feeling than an adult but I wonder is she having orgasims? I asked her does she stop whenever or when she feels like she is finished and she said "finished." So...who knows. I hope this isn't someting that continues for a long time, because this can bring on sexual relations alot sooner. I am thinking way ahead but you have to as a parent. She already wears deoderant due to some smelly armpits. Has been since 4 yrs old.

    Thanks to everyone!
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It may not necessarily lead to earlier sexual experimentation. If what she is doing is enough for her, she is maybe LESS likely to experiment.

    However, easy child 2/difficult child 2 has always seemed more "snuggly" and sensual, we knew she would be a problem with "round heels" as her father calls it. As it turned out, she kept herself well apart from boys until she was 17.

    I would be getting her checked out by a pediatrician. And Sara's made a really good suggestion - if you apply an anti-thrush cram topically, it may change things. After all, a really bad itch can feel better when you've finished scratching it.

    Smelly armpits - shouldn't be happening at this age. I would be checking out the possibility of early onset puberty, or the chance of a fungal infection on her skin in her armpit area. And if she has ONE fungal infection...

    easy child had a good friend who got her first period at age 8. At school. The poor kid came out of the toilets convinced she was dying. her mother was horrified - a classic feminist, she was raising her daughter to know it all, but hadn't told her about periods YET, didn't feel she needed to.

    Knowing about early puberty likelihood is important, because it can affect how much she grows. If she's going to stop growing sooner, you need to know early so you can do something about it, so she can grow taller if she wants to. Being under four and a half feet all your life is no fun.

  19. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Hmmm, regarding the masturbation: My easy child did this for a while when she was between 3-7. I would tell her it was a private thing that she could do in private only, in her room. She was okay with that. When she was around 6 or so she kept sliding down the stair banister and I ws playing around and said, "I know you're being silly. I'm afraid you could fall. Please don't do that anymore" and she responded by telling me, "But it feels so know...down there" and I almost died on the spot! I asked her her pediatrician about it and he said that's not that uncommon for kids to 'hit on that spot' at an early age, discover it feels nice, and then find ways of getting that thrill again. If it's interferring with her normal day and routine, then it's an issue, but to simply instruct her to do that in private and try to redirect her if it's interferring with her regular routine and that should clear it up - do not make an issue out of it so she will use it just to bug me. I followed his advice and she settled down after a while. If she did it a lot after that, I wouldn't know, as I still believe that if that was her coping mechanism and as long as she did it in private and it didn't rule her every moment, then it's okay. My easy child went on to be a prude and was not sexually promiscuous in any way.

    Incidentally, my easy child was always also very sensitive to tags, socks, panties, all clothing, etc. She wouldn't wear undies until she was nearly 9 years old. She cut tags out of all her clothing. She wouldn't wear jeans until she was in 7th grade - she didn't like the way they felt. And she wouldn't wear anything but those short little tight gym socks all year - still won't wear anything but.

    Aside from all that, she's fine. She is driven, smart, focused and socially normal as far as I can see.

    on the other hand, difficult child was mortified when the topic of masturbation came up when we discussed her periods and sexuality way back. And she's the one who is more sexually promiscuous - always has been.

    I sometimes think parents make too much out of the masturbation thing. It's their bodies and as long as it's done in private and they are made to understand that it's a personal, private thing, not to be done in excess, then so what.

    My friend's 8 year old daughter calls it "humpies" and she will even ask her mom, "Can I go to my room and do humpies?" She has learned to do it in private. This child has had a lot of medical issues since she was born and the humpies was a means of coping.

    Bottom line: If your gut is telling you that her behavior is not normal, then by all means have her evaluated, but in the case of the masturbation, other than telling her to do it in private, try to ignore it. The more you make of it, the worse it will get.
  20. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    You may also want to have her checked for yeast infection.
    It is a self soothing, self stimulating behavior. Excessive and unrelenting is a problem.
    You got a lot of good advice and suggestions.