Children and learning about sexuality


Children learn about sexuality from birth.

As your child grows, they need to learn about bodies, babies, puberty, gender, relationships, feelings, making decisions and family values, just as they learn about other things.

They need to feel good about their body and about being themselves.

Sometimes your child’s sexual behaviours might surprise, embarrass or worry you. However these behaviours are usually nothing to worry about and are not ‘sexual’ in the way that adults understand them.

It can help to know what is usual for your child’s age, and how you can talk with your child.

This page has information that can help you to understand your child’s sexuality development and provides tips for talking with them – in the preschool years and school years. 

Influences on your child’s learning

Your child will build their understanding of sexual matters, relationships and values a little at a time as they grow and mature.  They can learn from many sources, including:

  • parents
  • other adults
  • friends
  • advertising
  • school
  • other families
  • books, TV, movies and the internet
  • their culture
  • their community.

These can give your child mixed messages about sexuality, which can be confusing.

What you think and feel about sexuality has a big influence on how you deal with your child’s sexual development. What your own parents said and did, your religion, cultural background and feelings all affect how you approach it.

You can help your child feel good, healthy and normal by what you say and do.


This information in this section was adapted from the Parent Easy Guide series © Parenting SA, Government of South Australia.

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Last updated: 11 March 2016

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