Remember that photo of Victoria Beckham kissing her daughter on the lips? It sparked a huge debate on whether it’s appropriate to kiss your children on the lips, and even experts’ opinions are divided.
Some of them say such a display of affection is perfectly fine, while others insist it’s confusing to the child and may put him or her at risk of infection. Let’s take a closer look at what professionals have to say.
According to child psychologist Charlotte Reznick, parents should show affection in other ways, as kissing children on the lips may be “confusing” to them as they get older. She told The Sun:
As a child gets to four or five or six and their sexual awareness develops, the kiss on the lips can be stimulating to them. People don’t like to hear this but the lips are an erogenous zone and feel-good chemicals that are associated with sexual arousal — including serotonin and oxytocin — are released through lip-kissing.
Not everyone agrees with Reznick. Her colleague, Sally-Anne McCormack, told The Sun:
There’s absolutely no way that kissing a young child on the lips is confusing for them in any way. That’s like saying breastfeeding is confusing. Some people might have issues with it, but it isn’t any more sexual than giving a baby a back rub.
The opinions on this issue remain divided. Some say kissing children on the lips shouldn't be viewed as anything more than a display of parental love. But here's what: we should consider other aspects of this way of showing affection, not just its psychological impact.
The debate about kissing children on the lips was reignited once again when a video of Tom Brady kissing his 11-year-old son was posted online.
Dr. Oz included a whole segment dedicated to this issue in his show, where a few experts from different areas shared their opinion. Psychiatrist Dr. Sue Varma said:
Parents who are affectionate with their kids are really setting their kids up for better physical and emotional mental health for life. And what you see is that these kids grow up, and even at the age of 35 they are more resilient, they are more adaptable to stress… They have 35% less chance of being obese, less chance of having heart disease, so you really are talking about even better brain development. A part of the brain called the hippocampus is larger for kids that are shown affection. And this is involved in memory, in learning, they are more motivated and more flexible.
Etiquette expert Elaine Swann weighed in:
Etiquette is more about putting others at ease, so if you’re doing anything that’s going to make someone feel uncomfortable, than you should not do it – that’s one thing. But I do see one particular point in terms of age, you know. With toddlers, and little ones, and your preschoolers, kissing them on the lips is OK, but as children reach pubescent stage, it will make people feel uncomfortable. So you can do whatever you want to do at home with your own family, the key is not making people feel uncomfortable, so don’t do it in public.
Family physician Dr. Jennifer Caudle emphasized the risk kissing on the lips can pose to a young child’s health:
It does matter in terms of age. We weren’t talking about infants – that’s very, very young children. You know, infants, their immune system is very new, it’s still developing, and they are very vulnerable to severe infections. We often recommend for very small children – for infants – that we don’t kiss on the lips, because we want to minimize the potential risk for infection that just doesn’t need to be there, and that’s very specific with the young babies.
And there’s another expert whose opinion may be unexpected. Dentist Dr. Richard Marques told The Independent that adults’ saliva contains bacteria that can harm children’s teeth. He said:
Saliva transfer from parent to child is a risk as this can spread bacteria (such as streptococcus mutans) from adult to child. These bacteria can cause decay of baby teeth. It can even affect the soft tissues and gums before the baby teeth have developed!
And what about you? Do you think parents should kiss their kids on the lips? Share your opinion in the comments!
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