What to do when your little one accidentally sees porn…

It’s one thing when our teens and tweens go looking for porn (we have written a whole blog on that, here) . It’s another thing when porn comes looking for our YOUNGER kids.  And not surprisingly, porn is made to go looking for young kids on Roblox, in advertising, and on gaming portals. Kids as young as five are finding images they can’t make sense of but they somehow know, it just doesn’t feel right.

Here are ten simple steps to take when your little one is taken by surprise:

1.           Stay calm and thank them for telling you that they found something online that they haven’t seen before.

2.           Ensure that that they know they aren’t in trouble.

3.           Ask them to describe what they saw. The reason for this is little kids only need explanations in bite size chunks of that which they are trying to make sense and you want to explain just what they saw, nothing more nothing less.

4.           Do your best not to respond with shock or disapproval, even for the pornography itself. Rather you might say ‘thank you, I can see you remember what you saw but it is hard to understand’. 

5.           Now for the honest, accurate, short and age-related explanation: Remember in same way that you explain how babies are made is very different to a three-year-old and a nine-year-old, the same holds true for accidental discoveries of pornography. If they witnessed oral sex you might reply “when two adult people love each other, sometimes they like make each other’s bodies feel loved too. Touching someone like this is a way adults can show love for each other but we only do this when we are adults”. If they witnessed violent pornography you might say “what you saw is a kind of bullying…when people bully someone else into letting them touch their body, that is not okay”.

6.           What you want to be sure of is YOUR FAMILY VALUES are part of the discussion. Use this as an opportunity with sentences that begin “in our family, when mommy and daddy love each other, we both agree to be together (i.e. you are dealing with consent) or …in our family we don’t like to hurt each so people do something we don’t like, we can say no, please stop.

7.           Praise them again for telling you first. “Thank you for asking me, I am so chuffed.”

8.           Think of these moments as golden moments: If you child walks away feeling that they have been given a respectful, open and honest rendition, without being shamed, or without sensing your embarrassment or anger, you can be sure that you will be their port of call going forward. There will be lots of these moments, use them to bond, build connection and demonstrate you are the bomb when it comes to answering ‘the hard stuff’.

9.           Most importantly, remind them that you will always give them the full low down. “That was some pretty grown-up stuff, did I leave anything out?

10.         Acknowledge your child for asking you about awkward stuff. You might say, “Wow, I’m so glad you asked me this. It makes me feel that we trust each other.” What you are imparting is that you can be a ‘Go-to-Person’ in times of curiosity, fear, and confusion. These are power moments to prove it.

To tighten up the ropes a little and take steps to minimise the chances of having to have this conversation, download our Ultimate Guide to Parental Controls for ways in which you can block explicit content. Remember though, no parental control is fool proof and kid proof and there is no such thing as “set it and forget it”. Relationships are the great offset. Staying connected, engaged and informed will ultimately be the greatest parental control on the market.

Stay connected,

Love Sarah and Pam

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