top of page
  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

How to Tell if Your Child is Being Groomed

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

How to Tell if Your Child Is Being Groomed

The signs parents need: How to Tell if Your Child is Being Groomed

Every parent worries they will miss the signs that something is wrong in their children’s lives. Parents always second-guess themselves and overthink reality. Knowing the signs that your child may be in the process of grooming is vital to protecting them in today’s world. Here is how to tell if your child is being groomed.

Discretion is Key

Before we start, I want to let you know that these signs can be identifiers for other things. Just because your child exhibits one or two of these signs over several months does not mean they are being groomed.

I would look for two to three of these signals happening close together before considering grooming as a possibility. But if you do see one of these signals, it means you need to have a conversation with that child. It’s always good to see what’s going on with them.

Plus, not all kids respond the same way to trauma and unwanted attention. So the takeaway here is that you need to watch for these signs and talk to your children before you take action.

Now let’s talk about an uncomfortable topic.

Grooming Signals Parents Should Know

Increased Interest in a Person

One of the first signs of grooming is when your child talks a lot about one particular adult or older kid. They’ll chat with them online, or in person in public places. Maybe they’re teammates in sports or they go to the same school. Perhaps the adult works at the school or volunteers at church.

While it’s good for our kids to have people they are excited about, what you need to watch for is when they want to spend alone time with them. This means things are ramping up. Not like they want to meet and play putt-putt, or do a common shared activity but more like they want to go to that person’s house and not let you come too.

Also, camping trips can be yellow flags to watch for especially if that person hasn’t interacted with your child before outside of some sort of sanctioned activity.

The Older Boyfriend

What we need to pay attention to with our middle school and high school students is the older boyfriend. If your daughter is in middle school and her boyfriend is in high school, that’s odd. If your daughter is in high school and they’re dating something in their 20s, shut that down.

Also, this goes for girlfriends, too. Women can be groomers as well. Teens and tweens can be infatuated and charmed by older love interests, so be sure to monitor that situation.

Gift Giving

Grooms will often give their targets gifts. At first, this is something small and just seems like a nice gesture. Maybe a neighbor gives one of your kids their old tennis racket.

When your kids bring new things into your home casually ask what it is, how it works, and where they got it. Not all gift-giving is bad, but continued gift-giving where the gifts ramp up in value, that’s when you need to take notice.

If someone gives your child something that you don’t want them to have like a cell phone, money, digital gifts, or gaming headphones, that's a red flag. If a person showers your kid with gifts and attention, then they are going to expect gifts and attention back. They give to get. But what they want to bring is your child’s body.

Protecting Devices

You also need to watch how your kids guard their smart devices. This can be indicative of a lot of things honestly, but if your kid doesn’t want you to see their phone, that’s a red flag for something, If they sleep with their phone under their pillow and won’t be separated from it, then something is really, really wrong.

Loss of Sleep and Appetite

There can be sudden changes in behavior like loss of sleep and appetite. This is how humans in general deal with trauma. If your child isn’t eating or sleeping and their demeanor has changed, that means something they feel is bad has happened to them.

This doesn't always mean they’ve been molested, but they have experienced something they feel is really bad and they are responding to it. This is when you do need to get involved as a parent to see what’s going on. It could be grooming, or it could be bullying. Regardless, you need to be there for them and listen when they talk.

Talking With Your Kids About Grooming Signals

As we wrap up, you have to have concerned conversations in person. Not only do you need to listen to how your child responds to your questions, but you also need to see what their body language is saying. They may lie to your face, but their arms and legs will be more honest than their words.

So text is not the way to have these talks, it’s in person so you can hear what they say and see what they aren’t saying. Trust your gut and don’t live in denial. We are our children’s protectors after all.

Watch How To Know If Your Child Is Being Groomed Video


Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

Get Updates from Andy
bottom of page