5. Help kids meet their emotional needs.
Kids often use pornography to distract themselves from feeling negative emotions like stress, loneliness, or disappointment. Author John Fort makes the case that when “parents can help a child understand what creates a strong desire to see porn, that child has a much better chance of resisting it.” Kids who can understand their emotional needs and find ways to meet them are more resistant to addictions of any kind. Their parents can also model meeting emotional needs. “I’m feeling discouraged so I think I’ll make a list of all of the positive things I’ve done this week.”
Mark Chamberlain, an LDS therapist who specializes in treating sexual addiction and co-author of Love You, Hate the Porn, encourages parents to help their kids emotionally unload at the end of the day by asking two questions, “What was your high” and “What was your low.” He advises parents to empathize with their child’s negative or distressed emotions instead of rushing to solve the problem. This approach teaches kids that it’s okay to feel bad sometimes. “When kids look to us and see that we aren’t scared to sit with difficult feelings, they’ll usually follow our lead and discover that they’re strong enough to handle them as well.”
6. Empower kids to protect their brains.
Many parents teach their young kids body safety rules (keep private parts private!), but today, kids need to learn to protect their brain as well as their body. A large part of Good Pictures Bad Pictures is devoted to teaching kids the difference between the thinking brain and the feeling brain, and helping young kids understand how to keep the thinking brain in charge of deciding to reject pornography.
Another great resource is the Church’s video “What Should I Do When I See Pornography?” I love how the video models kids learning to reject pornography and talking to their parents about what they’ve seen.