...I just wanted you to know that I have successfully solved the problems with my daughter.
I was raised in a quite repressive family and I had trouble accepting her normal self-discovery.
My nervousness about her behavior caused it to become repetitive.
As soon as I stopped asking her lots of questions about her habit, trying to distract her, or explaining "should's" and "shouldnt's" over and over, her self-gratification habit started to fade. My frequent inquiries were causing her to obsess about it. She now only uses it as a comforter.
She still uses a dummy.In the past month I have also noticed that restricting dummy to nighttime has helped. Indeed, pacifier and self-stimulation were both ways to soothe herself when distressed. After discontinuing the dummy, we experienced several days of tears and tantrums. I am sure she was holding it all inside. After an awful week, she seemed much more relaxed and emotionally poised.
I am sure she was not sexually abused. She told me many, many times that "anna" was not a true person. I think that she invented the character to give her the blame of a behavior that seemed unacceptable to me.
I think that I was giving her mixed messages. My words were saying that what she was doing was OK for me , but my face, my body language were saying the opposite.
I was also being sticky. I realized that she was not the one looking for attention all the time. I have become aware of the many, many times in which I interrupted her play or her reading, and of the many useless words that I was saying to fill every single moment that I spent with her.
We're doing a lot better. Lately when she asked me for "private time", and left the room, I then found her just reading by herself or making puzzles, etc.
Anytime parents stumble into a behavioral problem with their children, the first thing to do should be asking themselves about THEIR OWN behavior. This has helped me greatly.