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A Very Difficult Topic: Child Self-Stimulation

Posted by Amanda Lane

Today I received a call from my daughter’s school counselor.  She informed me that my daughter’s teachers had noticed this week that she was rocking in her chair, self-stimulating.  I have to tell you I wasn’t really expecting this call, but that I wasn’t shocked either.  It wasn’t the first time I have had this issue with her.  My daughter is an amazing child, but every December before the holidays… that excitement combined with her energy always creates some type of challenge.  Honestly though, I still I got off of the phone and cried.  This is one of the hardest issues to deal with in school or to write in this blog, but I know it needs acknowledgement.

My daughter started rocking or wiggling in her highchair since she was probably around 6 months old.  When I noticed, I would simple take her from the highchair and start another activity.  It took me a while to figure out what she was actually doing, probably kindergarten when her teacher asked me about it. That is when I began my research.  So over the years, I have talked to my daughter about this very carefully as not to scar her sexually in any way, but also manage this behavior at school.   I have told her that she can wiggle in her room, but not in front of others.  I told her this was private.  But like anything else we tell our children they need reminders along the way.  She also needs outlets for her boundless energy.  Getting a trampoline when she was four years old was a lifesaver!

At the end of 3rd grade after being questioned by her frequently and viewing a great Oprah show on “how to talk to your kids about sex”, I decided to tell her how babies were made.  She is so gifted and curious about everything.  She just couldn’t figure out why she looked like her daddy!  I kept it simple and it satisfied her curiosity.

So, back to my call today…my first reaction was just a reaction of tears, but as a mother I knew I needed a plan.  The problem has presented itself again and I need to deal with it.  So, when my daughter arrived home we had a long private talk.  First I told her about the phone call and explained that her behavior was distracting to others and to the teacher.  Then I let her talk and tell me what was going on from her perspective.  A month earlier we had talked on the topic and she assured me that she wasn’t wiggling at school any longer…so I reminded her of that and asked what was going on this week that made her start.  She told me that she was frustrated because this week she didn’t have outdoor recess with the weather turning so cold.  It seems to be an issue after lunch when she doesn’t get outdoor recess.   I really think the self-stimulation is completely related to the hyperactivity she shows.  She needs some type of outlet to this crazy energy.   We have been working so hard to keep her emotions intact, that this is how the energy was being channeled.

Then I took my turn talking and I told her in much greater detail this time, about sex and our animal instincts.  I explained all about girls and boys using all of the proper words, as always.  Then in the best way I could, I tied the two topics together.  I wanted her to be aware of what she was doing so that she could understand when and where it is appropriate.  Self-stimulation it is a normal behavior, but obviously should not be done in her 5th grade classroom.

Where others may think she is slightly lacking in self-control at school, I think she is doing an amazing job keeping it all together.  I see, hear, and feel her energy everyday as she exuberantly tells me of her day, details of a book, her countless ideas, or watching when she can’t sit still as she eats her dinner.  I could have totally overreacted to the phone call today, but instead I thought it through and hopefully I have helped and not done any harm.  She will need more reminders, but that’s okay.

In conclusion, I wrote an email, similar to this blog, to my daughter’s teacher asking if she could bring a stress ball to school for moments when she feels that energy.  The teacher responded very positively and is also going to allow her to get up to get a drink from the water fountain when necessary as well.  I know with Megan’s intense energy, fervor for life, and accelerated knowledge, she will grow up doing whatever she chooses well.  Don’t let an embarrassing topic keep you from speaking openly and honestly with your child.  I believe it can really help preserve their self-confidence.


About Amanda Lane

Parent Blogger Amanda Lane is the mother of an 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter. Amanda has been married for 16 years and works as a Clinical Systems Analyst in the hospital in her rural community. She hopes to give hope and confidence to others as she writes about her journey through parenthood.

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