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Inappropriate touching of SELF in class-HELP!



I've been following Cleopatra's challenge with a student who persists in touching others. I've got a curious one on my hands -- the first in more than a dozen years of teaching.

I've got a boy in my class who I've caught "rubbing himself" inappropriately during class on more than a couple occasions. I've talked with his parents and they do not doubt what I am reporting and are supportive of any effort to eliminate this behavior.

The boy admits that he has done this sporadically throughout the year, and understands that the behavior is wrong, but continues nonetheless.

He does not expose himself, and quite honestly it looks very innocent -- as though he's vigorously rubbing his hands together between his thighs to warm himself... so none of the other kids have noticed (yet).

His parents are at their wits' end, as am I.

He is an exceptional 7yo in my 3rd grade class doing grade level plus 5th grade math and is off the charts in reading and language. (Unfortunately, our district is small and has no real GATE-style resources, so we just have to do our best.)

I'd hate to see his record scarred with such a blemish, and worse, would hate to see him ridiculed by his peers for his behavior. He is very well adapted socially, especially given the age differences, and has many friends of both genders and is well-liked by everyone -- faculty and students.

We've tried reasoning with him, taking away privileges, his parents have worked from their end, but have told me that they are hesitant to employ corporal punishment fearing some sort of "issue" later in life.

He has no other behavioral problems whatsoever and is probably one of the most polite boys I've had in years... he'd definitely one of the brightest by a long shot.

The counselor has pushed the premise with him that his behavior is perfectly natural -- but that it is totally unacceptable in public. His parents agree with this approach.

Has anyone dealt with something like this before?


Senior Member
Not aware?

Is it possible that he is not aware that he is doing this? It might be a habit, or an unconscious act. Maybe you and he can agree on a signal that you give him when he is doing this, and he will know to stop.

I did have a boy who did this (it was a summer school enrichment class). I decided to talk to the dad when he came to pick up his son. Imagine my shock when the father did the same exact thing, while talking to me! Ugh! Fortunately, it was only a one week class.


Senior Member

I've had several of these situations. I was advised to use a "code" word or signal that the parents and I would use as a signal to stop. It worked, sort of, but the children still persisted in the behavior. Lots of reminders, all the time. The fact that the child is first grade age in a 3rd grade class is a little complicated, because the other kids might pick up on the word and notice. Maybe you could walk by his desk and touch the corner of the desk, or something like that. Of course, someone has to have the conversation with the child. Parents, hopefully. It's easier with first graders... I would just tell them to put their hands on table, and no one was ever the wiser. Do you think there's any stress involved with being so young, even though he's very popular and capable, academically?


If he is under any stress, he's doing a great job of hiding it. I've been watchful (in general) since the beginning of the year precisely because of the age difference, as I've never had someone this young before -- well at least not in a 3rd grade classroom.

His parents are very open about this and are as frustrated as I am. They say that he has essentially eliminated the "in public" issue at home and elsewhere, and that he's done a good job of keeping private things private. We've just got to focus on his in-class behavior.

I'm meeting with them this week for a mid-period conference and will be sure to bring this up again.

Thanks for your input and suggestions. At least I know I'm not crazy -- and neither is he!



If he understands to keep private things private at home, then he can do it at school, too. If a signal to stop isn't working, arrange a signal for him to go to the bathroom. Just be sure he understands that he is to go into a stall and close the door! Forbidding the behavior may make it more difficult for him to stop -- allowing it within appropriate parameters may destress the situation and help him ultimately stop. If he doesn't stop, at least he isn't doing it in public.

I'm sure you've investigated this, but are you sure there's no chance he's being abused? New older kid in the play group, new neighbor, anything out of the ordinary? Have they discussed this with the doctor? No signs of UTIs, etc? I'm sure everything's fine, but it's always a good idea to cover all of your bases.


Senior Member
I had a kid similar to this

last year. He was not subtle--reached inside his pants pretty frequently. We just worked out a nonverbal signal for a reminder, and if that failed to do the trick I would send him to the bathroom. Not autistic--just a boy who found something that felt good! I hear that this year it has faded away.


This is probably way off base, because I'm sure that you are sure about what you are witnessing, but...could there be a slight chance that he is rubbing because he is itchy? Perhaps he is sensitive to the laundry soap that his underwear is washed in? Just a thought.


New Member
I had a child

in my class who was autistic and did the same thing. We ordered for him a weighted lap dog. It was a blue dog that was about 3-5 lbs in weight and he sat it on his lap. The pressure seemed to relax him and he could not get his hands near there without physically moving the dog. I hope this helps you think of something.


Senior Member
This happened at a school I worked at.

The boy would self-pleasure, get red in the face, short of breath, etc. He did it over his pants.

His parents and teacher discussed it, and his mother told him "masturbation" is like pooping: People do it, but it's private.

After that, if he was 'caught' he was sent home.
I moved from the school after that year and that consequence worked for that year, I don't know if it was a problem later.


Full Member

I, too, had this experience. This fourth grader would put his hand down his pants and literally jump up and down in his seat! It was amazing to me that every child in the room didn't comment. I was concerned about both stress and possible abuse. When those were ruled out to the best of my ability, I just used a very direct signal. I put my hand on his shoulder and told him he needed to go to the bathroom. He did and then the behavior seemed to diminish. Sadly, he did move the next year. So I'm not sure if it reappeared.


Senior Member
5th grader

I have one this year and he is driving me crazy. I have talked to him, the principal has talked to him and other teachers have also. I won't allow him to put his hands in his pockets or go to the bathroom unless the class is going. He is a special ed student with aschbergers (sp?) syndrome. He has above average intelligence but his obsessive behaviors have been a test of my patience all year.



I had this happen w/ some of my kids I had in my daycare. What I usually did was explain about time and place for that the first time or two. AFter that I simply tell the child ot go wash their hands. If they do it often they really get aggrevated at having to stop wha tthey are doing to go wash. Interrupting their play usually makes it stop pretty quickly. So that is my suggestions. NExt time, explain again about time and place and let him know that if you see him doing it you will have him go wash his hands(even if they were on the outside of this clothes).