It can be uncomfortable to address anything concerning sexuality with your child, but avoiding the topic altogether will do more harm than good. Children are naturally curious about what their bodies can do, and what it means when they see their parents give each other a long kiss. Approach a conversation about kissing with an open mind, and always start by asking your child what she already knows. Once you get a feel for how much she understands, you may not need to explain as much as you thought, after all.
When talking about kissing, it's important to only give your kids as much information as they can digest depending on their age. Very small children may be satisfied knowing only that people kiss when they love each other. You can teach older children that there are two kinds of kissing: family kissing and mature kissing. Describe family kissing as a quick kiss on the cheek or lips, while mature kissing goes on longer between two adults. If your teenager has questions, let him guide the conversation -- for example, he may be interested to hear about your first kiss, but he may not want any details about your relationship with his other parent.
Boyfriends and Girlfriends
According to KidsHealth.org, it's perfectly normal for young children to pretend they have girlfriends or boyfriends. It's normal, as well, for children to explore their bodies -- and others' bodies -- by kissing each other. This is safe as long as one of the children isn't being forced or tricked into kissing. As an adult, keep an eye out for instances in which one child seems upset by the kissing, one child is older or has a higher cognitive level than the other or if the behavior is far too sexual for their ages. If something about their play makes you uncomfortable, separate the children calmly. Avoid overreacting, or both children will feel ashamed of their bodies.
When Kids See Adults Kiss
Most kids are going to be curious about why adults kiss -- and it's not something you should try to hide from your children. Whether they see adults kissing on TV, in a magazine or in real life, KidsHealth.org recommends explaining that kissing is a natural part of life. It's very important to avoid labeling kissing as something shameful, embarrassing or dirty. Because kids form their feelings about sexuality at a young age, it can be damaging to their future relationships if they feel like their desires are wrong.
How To Address Problems Involving Kissing
If your child is being kissed against his consent -- or kissing someone else against theirs -- you must step in and explain privacy and personal space to the offender. Tell your child that any physical contact between two people should be consensual, which means both people are comfortable with it. The Advocacy Center states that children need to learn about boundaries early in life. Even if your child is a baby, don't push her to give grandma a kiss if she doesn't want to. Your child should always understand that she can say no to physical touch, and that her request should be respected.
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