Developmentally appropriate sexual behaviour in children

Here is a list of some examples of normal sexual behaviour for different age groups.

0–5 years old

  • Being curious about almost everything, including their bodies, and often being happier with no clothes on.
  • Being curious about other children’s bodies. A child may try to look at, or touch another child’s genitals. This is about being curious, and is often amusing to them rather than being forced or intimidating.
  • Masturbation normally begins during infancy and continues as a child grows.

6–10 years old

  • Exploring their own bodies.
  • Being curious about other children’s bodies, particularly if there are physical changes.
  • Asking questions about sex and looking for books and pictures explaining their own body parts.
  • Playing games, such as “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours”.
  • Comparing penis size.
  • Becoming interested in sex words and dirty jokes.
  • Showing some interest in the opposite sex.
  • Having feelings about needing privacy.

11–12 years old

  • Having feelings of sexual attraction.
  • Expressing an interest in having a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Masturbating in privacy.
  • Having some sexual activity with peers, such as kissing and fondling. It is healthy and normal for this to occur with peers of any gender and is not necessarily an indication of future sexual identity.
  • Imitating sexual behaviours they’ve seen or heard about.