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Shame and first love

Children may start feeling uncomfortable being naked in the presence of other people. They no longer want to get undressed when adults are around, and stop walking around in the nude.

Children ask fewer questions about sex, which does not mean that they are less interested in the subject. They have noticed that sex is a “loaded” topic and that it is not proper to talk about it in public.

Children fantasise a lot, using what they see around them (family, school, TV, etc.). Fantasy and reality often get mixed up. Their fantasies may be about love, for instance, sometimes also about being in love with someone of the same sex.

Boys’ and girls’ groups are formed, each “sounding out” the other. Boys often think girls are “stupid” and “childish”, while girls tend to think boys are “too rowdy” and act “tough”.

In a group situation (classroom, friends), they often find it important to show how grownup, strong and smart they are. Children try to outdo one another. They want to show that they know something about the world of older children and adults. One way of doing this is by showing how much they know about sex and by using sexual language. Children invent rhymes with sexual words and tell one another sexual jokes (dirty jokes). Often they do not understand what they are saying.

The first feelings of being in love are also experienced at this age.