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Is it OK to Kiss Your Child on their Lips?

As a child psychologist, I have been asked my view on this issue, and I must admit, my first thoughts are not about the kiss itself, but of despair at the media seemingly never giving parents a break. Why do people think it’s okay to judge every aspect of families, especially celebrity families?

On the subject of kissing within families… Many families kiss each other on the lips. Others kiss on the cheek, and others hug. What is important in this situation is that children grow up feeling safe, and comfortable and knowing they’re loved. It is not important whether that love is displayed as a kiss on the lips, or an embrace, or even a pat on the back, the importance for children is simply that it is demonstrated in some way.


Why do people think it’s ok to judge every aspect of celebrity families?

– Dr Amanda Gummer



In terms of children’s development, parents should not themselves, nor allow others, attempt to make any child uncomfortable with unwanted physical displays of affection. So if your child shies away from being kissed on the lips, or being hugged, or with any other physical display of affection, and doesn’t seem at ease, it’s important not to push that.

It’s a good idea to take your lead from the child. If, as you go to kiss a child good night, he or she turns and offers his or her cheek, then that’s where you should plant that good night kiss. If, on the other hand, they pucker up and you are both comfortable, then it’s fine to go with that too. They will let you know what they are comfortable with.

On the whole, babies and young children who have been bought up with certain ways of displaying love within a family will be comfortable with exactly that. But don’t be surprised or upset if a child changes and withdraws a bit from physical displays of affection as they enter teenage years.

A child who always used to plant a smacker on a parent’s lips as a toddler may feel more inclined to offer a cheek as he or she grows up. This is often especially true in front of friends -and don’t be surprised if Public Displays of Affection are forbidden by your child in front of friends as they are ‘so embarrassing’. You must respect this and again, go with what they are happy with at all times.

If their children are happy to kiss and be kissed on the lips, then that is absolutely fine and really ought to be their business, and their business alone.