Young child asking mother question about sexual health

5 and 6 Year Olds

Understanding Your Child’s Development

Your child is starting to form their own identity and understand how they fit into the world. Talking about sexual health and sexuality now will help start the conversation and keep it going as your child ages. Read more about what your child is going through in this stage.



  • Slow and steady growth continues.


  • They still explore their own body.
  • Children in this stage are aware of reproduction and differences between genders but may not be too interested.
Teach your children the differences between personal boundaries with family, close friends, people they may not know well and strangers. It’s important for them to understand at a young age that their body belongs to them, and that they have the right to tell others not to touch them.


  • Has a greater sense of right and wrong. Is easily upset by things that aren’t ‘fair’ or ‘not right’.
  • May begin 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 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.
  • Gender identity continues to develop, as shown by how they look, their name and how they behave around others. Some trans kids may already know that their assigned sex doesn’t fit with who they are, even at this early stage.
Children often experiment with adult roles through play. Sometimes these roles are familiar (like playing ‘mom’ or ‘dad’), and sometimes they aren’t (like playing a race car driver). Each child is different and may want to experiment with different roles. If a child has seen people having sex, possibly by walking in on parents or others, or seeing it on TV or online, they may add it into their role playing.


  • May start to become competitive.
  • Enjoys games with rules.
  • Begins to understand more how someone else may feel (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 may connect sexuality with shame. They’re more likely to 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:

  • 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.
  • Their body is their own, and no one can touch it or look at it without their permission. Teach them that it’s also not okay if someone asks them to look at or touch another person’s private parts.
  • There are no secrets around touch and all touch can be talked about. This will help them understand the difference between ’okay’ and ‘not okay’ touch and may encourage them to tell a trusted adult if something like this has happened.
  • 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 touch 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 Additional Resources.

Click to learn Tips for Talking About Sexual Health.


Helpful Tools


Parent Guide (birth - 12 year olds)

This resource will help you prepare for the ongoing conversations you'll have with your child about sexual health. Whether you've had conversations in the past or not, it's never too late to start again.


Sexuality Wheel

Explore the dimensions of human sexuality.


Parents' FAQs

See sample questions and answers to help you start conversations about sexual health with your child.


The "Every Body"

Learn about the differences between sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.


Tips for Discussing Sexual Health

Here are some tips for starting or having conversations about sexual health, at any age.

Parent Guide birth to 12

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