“If you could go back in time and give your 10-year-old self some advice, what would you say?” That’s the question I posed to Brad, a father who struggled for years with a pornography addiction. He’s now in recovery and helping others achieve the same. Thankfully, our kids can benefit from his hard-won wisdom.
Brad was exposed to pornography at the age of 10 and continued to seek it out on the internet, eventually being pulled into a pornography addiction that lasted for decades. He led a double life, fooling his parents and friends, before he finally admitted he needed help to overcome his addiction. Every parent with kids can benefit from his 10 tips.
[Some of the content of this post was previously published here.]
10 Tips to Help Kids Beat Pornography
- Don’t underestimate kids or the pull of porn. Kids are smarter than you think. And pornography is more enticing to kids than you believe.
- Empower kids with brain science. From a very young age, kids need to be taught about the neurological dangers of pornography. Books like Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids can be very helpful in explaining to kids that although looking at pornography does have an effect on their brain, they can learn powerful ways to protect themselves — like using the CAN DO Plan™.
[To get your free copy of the CAN DO Plan, click here.]
- Analyze and then act to replace porn. Kids who are involved in porn need to figure out why they are using it. What are their triggers? Does conflict with friends or family members trigger porn use? Loneliness? Negative feelings? Find out those things and begin working on them. Just remember, when you take porn away, some other stress response needs to take its place.
[Read Block Porn Interest: A Proactive Parenting Plan to learn more about meeting a child’s emotional needs.]
- Discover your child’s music and video game interests. For some kids music can lead to a greater involvement with pornography. The lyrics and beat can add fuel to the fire. For others, it’s video games. Discover what weakens their resolve to quit using and together with your child plan ways to eliminate them.
- Find out your child’s portals to porn. You must be willing to do anything and everything to help your child who has been viewing internet pornography, including extensive mentoring, sitting side by side with your child when they go online.
- Explain the link between porn and human sex trafficking. The young women in pornography are often the horribly abused victims of sex-trafficking. By the time kids are 10 or 11 they can begin to understand this concept.
[TRIGGER ALERT–this video has line drawings of a woman in her underwear. Parents, watch this video: Porn: Human Trafficking at Your Fingertips by Rescue: Freedom International.]
- Get real. In order to get into recovery, a person has to first and finally admit that they are an addict. If your child keeps getting pulled back into using pornography, it’s possible that an addiction has been developed. The sooner this reality is addressed the better chances are for recovery.
[Watch this video: A Mind Map for Sex and Porn Addiction.]
- Understand that an addicted brain does not consider consequences. Fear of punishment or loss cannot keep a person sober. The addicted brain doesn’t work that way. It goes directly to the addiction, bypassing the part of the brain that considers consequences. That is the very nature of an addiction.
[Get more information on addiction by reading How to Explain Addiction to Kids by Using an Ice Cream Truck.]
- To get and stay in recovery, addicts can put up firewalls. Firewalls are made of special material to stop a blazing fire and protect whatever is on the other side. Parents and kids can use this idea to keep them safe from pornography. If your child has a problem with a porn habit, you will probably need to consider locking out the internet from their phone (if they have one), not as a punishment but as a firewall strategy. Also, put strong passwords on all mobile devices and change them often. Understand that kids can gain access to the internet via all sorts of apps.
[Cutting off access is important, but not enough. It’s crucial to help kids realize the harms of porn and learn for themselves why it’s in their best interest to avoid it. Read 21 Powerful Reasons to Warn Your Kids About Porn and Terry Crews Can Convince Anyone to Avoid Porn.]
- Go sign up for Fortify. Parents with kids under 13 who are involved in pornography can sign up for Fortify—an online recovery program from Fight the New Drug—and work the program with them. The program was created for teens, so parents may have to explain a few things, but it’s a very affordable first-line option (and free for individuals up to age 21). The programs includes 50 videos, a Battle Tracker calendar and loads of other amazing features.
More Great Advice from Dads
Here are 5 articles from dads who understand the pull of pornography and share effective strategies for protecting kids.
- How Dads Can Protect Their Kids Online: Excellent Advice from a Therapist
- How Does a Sex Addiction Expert Teach His Kids to Avoid Porn
- “Dear Porn”: A Father’s Poignant Plan to Protect His Kids
- Get Emotional: A Valuable Legacy from Father to Son
- A Dad’s Two Brains Help Him Reject Porn