Talking to Kids About Kissing
Even when parenting little ones, the "kissing conversation" can get a little awkward. Kids are naturally affectionate, and hey, you kiss at home, so kissing at school, during play dates or at family gatherings is totally OK, right? When your child starts learning that his lips are for more than blowing raspberries, it's time to have a heart-to-heart about kissing and all of the feelings and emotions that come along with it.
When talking to your child about kissing, it's important to avoid villainizing affection. Little kids are usually touchy-feely beings, so discouraging any type of kissing and hugs can make your lovable child feel awkward and bad about herself. Instead, talk about all the instances where kissing is totally OK, like when you have a bedtime story or grandma wants a kiss. Reinforce the idea that kissing is OK if both of the people want to kiss and it's not a secret to other people.
Use your little Romeo's efforts to romance the girls at school as an opportunity to chat about personal space and respect for others. Talk about how it feels when two people want to kiss -- both of the people should feel comfortable. If he is forcing someone to kiss him, it's not OK because only one person wants to kiss. While you're teaching your child about respect for personal space, remember to avoid forcing him to kiss a relative or friend -- it sends a mixed message about how kissing should feel and respect for both people. You can then use that experience as a teaching moment: "Billy, remember when you didn't want to kiss Aunt Violet? Well, some people don't like kissing, and you should never make someone kiss you if they don't want to."
Younger kids often want to experiment with kissing and it's usually innocent. But if you've noticed that it's become a problem or another parent has indicated that kissing kids make her uncomfortable, talk to your child about the feelings that go along with kissing. Ask your child how she feels when she's kissing someone else and then indicate that kisses should be saved for when she has special feelings toward another person. Kissing on the playground or during a play date might be fun, but it's not real and it can make kids confused.
When your little one starts to become curious about kissing, it's an excellent time to talk about safe and unsafe touch around older kids and adults. Talk about how touching can make you feel good, but it can also hurt and make you feel bad inside. You don't need to go into detail if your child is young, but your little one should know that he should never touch another child's privates and not to let anyone touch his. He should also know how to tell an adult if someone has hurt or given him unwanted touch. This way, he knows when it's serious, but isn't discouraged from giving you all the hugs and kisses you need.
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