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How should one deal with a child who masturbates regularly?

Q: I am a third grade teacher. Next year, I'll be working with a child who masturbates frequently in the classroom. He has not been sexually abused. I have been researching about masturbation in children. I have found some valuable information, but none of the websites have strategies to deal with this behaviour. What can I do to help this child to change this behaviour?

A:Masturbation in children is a relatively common habit, especially around 1st or 2nd grade. Some of the strategies that you can adopt in dealing with this problem include not bringing too much attention to this as it may only encourage the child. Another possibility is to provide distraction each time you find the child indulging in such behaviour. Do not punish instead use positive reinforcement such as a reward when this behaviour is not carried out. Watch out for trauma and increase in masturbation when the child is stressed. In this situation focus on helping resolve the stress or doing other socially acceptable activities that can help comfort the child. You could also share these insights with the child's parents.

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