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How can I cope with having sexual thoughts about a child younger than me?

Talk to someone you trust

People often feel like they can’t talk to anyone about their sexual thoughts. They feel embarrassed or worried about how others will react. 

But lots of people experience difficult sexual thoughts, and getting help is an important step towards learning how to cope with them. 

Who do you have in your life that you could speak to. Maybe a parent or carer? A teacher, or another adult you trust? 

Remember, people who care about you will want to help. 

Sometimes, though, they may not know how to react at first. They might even need some advice themselves. Here are a couple of places they can get advice:

Parents Protect

We help parents and carers protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation

Stop It Now!

A safe space for people to talk about their concerns and get help to prevent child sexual abuse

Talk to an expert

Talking to someone who understands what you’re going through can be really helpful and may make you feel less alone. 

This is even more important if you’re worried that you might act on your sexual thoughts towards a child. 

Think carefully about who you talk to online, as it can be dangerous to speak about your sexual thoughts and feelings to someone you don’t know. 

Maybe try speaking to an advisor on our email service for support and advice? You don’t have to say who you are. Or see our list of other helpful organisations to find other professional support. 

Recognise your triggers

Are there certain times of the day or week when you’re more likely to have a sexual thought about a child? What sort of things trigger these thoughts? 

For example, does it happen at bedtime, or after watching particular TV programmes?

Becoming aware of your triggers and taking steps to avoid them can be a helpful, practical way to manage your thoughts. 

Remind yourself what could happen if you act on your sexual thoughts

Remember that any sexual behaviour with a child is illegal and abusive. 

It can get you into serious trouble. 

And all child sexual abuse causes very serious harm to the children who experience it.

Find appropriate ways to respond to your sexual urges

It’s completely natural to have sexual urges. And it’s important that you react to any sexual urges you have in a way that’s safe and healthy.

If you’re wondering what might help with that, why not ask an advisor on our email service for support and advice? You don’t have to say who you are.

Try out different ways of relaxing

It’s really easy to worry a lot about our sexual thoughts. It can be a struggle to let them go.

It can make a big difference to try some simple breathing exercises, or exercises to make us feel more:

  • Grounded
  • Mindful

There’s a list of exercises you can try, with instructions, on our managing difficult emotions page.

Managing difficult emotions

If you’re worried about harmful sexual behaviour, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, you may be experiencing some confusing emotions. Find out how to manage difficult emotions and get support for your mental health.

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