5 and 6 Year Olds
Understanding Your Child’s Development
Your child is starting to form their own identity and their understanding of how they fit into the world. Talking about sexual health and sexuality together now will help to start the conversation and keep it going as your child gets older. Read more about what your child is going through in this stage.
- Slow and steady growth continues.
- Gender identity continues to develop, as shown by choosing how they look, their name and how they behave around others.
- They still explore their own body.
- Children in this stage are aware of reproduction and differences between the sexes, but may not be too interested.
- Has a greater sense of right and wrong. Is easily upset by things that aren’t ‘fair’ or ‘not right’.
- Begins to talk out loud to calm themselves down.
- Doesn’t like to be corrected.
Learning & Thinking (Cognitive)
- May use some ‘bathroom vocabulary’ (e.g., enjoys rhymes about poo).
- May think that sexual terms are “bad” words.
- Will ask questions about pregnancy, birth and babies. May ask about the father’s role in reproduction. May be interested in comparing animal and human behaviour.
- Becomes shy or embarrassed about their body. They may want more privacy.
- Begins to know the difference between behaviour that’s okay and not okay.
- May start to become competitive.
- Enjoys games with rules.
- Begins to understand more how someone feels (empathy).
- Has a best friend.
- Is influenced more by other adults (e.g., teachers).
- Likes to please.
Click the link to learn more about children with Differing Abilities.
What Your Child Needs Your Help to Learn
Your child will likely understand more about body parts and what they do, but still may not know all the facts. For example, at this age children often think that girls have one opening for urine and feces, and that what girls eat goes into the same place as the baby grows. It helps to use simple and clear explanations for your child—make sure to give the facts and use the correct terms.
If you don’t talk about sexuality, it teaches your child that sexuality is something they shouldn’t talk about with you. They’re more likely to talk to and believe any story they hear from others. Give them the facts about their body parts, what they’re used for and how babies are made.
There are some great ways to encourage healthy sexuality and development. At this stage, children should know:
- That their body is their own and no one can touch it without their permission—the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch”. This may help children to be more likely to tell a trusted adult if someone is touching them in a way they shouldn’t.
- The correct names for body parts including genitals and reproductive organs: penis, testicles, scrotum, anus, vulva, labia, vagina, clitoris, uterus and ovaries. Knowing the correct names for body parts promotes positive body image, self-confidence, and parent-child communication. It also gives children the language they need to tell a trusted adult if sexual abuse has happened.
- Other body parts and body functions: urine, stool, bladder and urethra.
- How reproduction happens. For example, you could say, “When a sperm joins an egg, a baby grows in the uterus, and is born through the vagina.”
- Basic information about body changes during puberty.
- Not to pick up things such as used condoms or syringes. Now is a good time to teach them not to pick up anything if they don’t know what it is or if they think it’s dangerous.
To learn more, see Resources.
Click to learn Tips for Talking About Sexual Health.