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Should a 4 yr old kiss you on the lips?

Ok, I have a question. What is appropriate for a 4 year old? Please bear with me as I relate the whole story. I could really use some input on this. I babysit a 4 year old boy who is just adorable, however there is something that concerns me a little. This all started months ago...he come early in the morning so usually we go back to sleep for a few hours. Well, several times if he didn't go to sleep in the few 10 min or so he would try to snuggle with and kiss me, I was ok with that until he started trying to kiss my lips. I just told him, "no, we kiss on the cheeks" and I know some parents kiss their kids on the lips and maybe his do, I don't know. Anyway, it only happened twice because I started getting up if he didn't go to sleep and not just laying there with him. Ok, then he starts asking in the middle of the day "can we please go in bed and kiss each other." Again I was just like "no, we sleep in bed, we're not going to lay down unless we are going to sleep" This happened a bunch of times and I finally told him very firmly to stop asking unless he wanted to take a nap. That seemed to stop it and several months went by. Now just this week he has asked twice again if we could go lay in bed and snuggle and kiss. I don't want to make a big deal about it, because if he's just an innocent, loving child, but I don't know.... is this normal behaviour? Should I be concerned? How should I handle it?

Also, I think, well, maybe he asks that because he feels like he needs extra attention. So I try to give him that, but not right when he asks because I don't want to to associate asking me that with getting extra love and attention. Any advice would be great.


Thu. Jan 24, 12:50pm

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Talk to him about it. Ask him he's old enough...ask him why he likes to kiss. He probably see his folks doing it!! I don't see it being a bad thing...I agree as a child care giver you should tell him that high fives are better than kisses since you don't want to spread germs. Or hugs...But chat with him and I bet you will get the story behind it. Remember half of what the kids say at home is true as half of what they say about your house is true...becareful before opening that can of worms...if you are thinking something "odd" is going on in his home. Once you open it you can't stop it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 12:55 PM

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Well it could be that he has just seen tv programing that is inappropriate for his age and doesn't understand that only grown ups do that.
It could be that there is abuse.
It could be for attention that he isn't getting elsewhere.
That is a really hard thing to have to figure out.
I suppose I would talk to his mother about it and see if she has been dealing with that as well and how she would have you handle it.
Good luck. And please keep us informed. I am really curious about this situation.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 1:01 PM

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Kids usually don't get 'random' ideas. He wants to snuggle and kiss because he has either seen it on tv or his parents doing it... or... because that is behavior that goes on in his home with him. This could be a small issue, maybe his family babies him and they don't find anything inappropriate with that affection... but it could also be a sign that something no so right is going on.

I agree that you should talk to him. Next time he asks, ask him if thats something he does at home or with other babysitters. If he says no, ask if he sees other people doing it. Chances are one of these things is the reason he wants to have you join him! Once you get to the bottom of the requests you can handle them better. If he just comes from an affectionate home, or watches too much adult tv you can explain that every family is different and your family/household doesn't snuggle and kiss. But if there is a different problem, I am sure being a child care provider, you know what to do.

Keep us posted! I'd love to hear how this turns out.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 1:06 PM

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You are actually in a good position to find out some info without it coming out strangely. He obviously feels comfortable with you and trusts you. He is also 4 so you can talk to him. What I would do is the next time he asks just sit down with him and ask him if mommy likes to do this with him, if he says no ask if daddy likes to do this, if he still says no leave it be and maybe just ask the parents. But if he says yes you can then ask him if mommy or daddy do anything else when laying in bed with him, but don't be alarmed he will see this on your face and get scared, you will need to act like you always do and just ask a question. Asking to be kissed while laying in bed is sort of a red flag to me, even if he isn't getting as much attention as he should or could be, it almost makes me think that this is learned behavior from someone who does this with him. My daughter is 4 and loves to play sleep, where we just lay in bed and pretend to snore and sleep but that is it. I have been a nanny for 16 years and I would be very concerned if one of my kids I cared for started talking like that. Nothing wrong with giving a kiss on the lips but the context of this is a little odd to me. But you have the opportunity to find out more and if it is a bad situation you need to contact child services.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 1:18 PM

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And one other thing....his mom and dad are separated and he spends half his time with each. He stays with me when he's at his dad's house. I have no idea if that is at all relevant.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 1:26 PM

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Yeah, the context seems odd to me, too. We kiss our kids on the lips but it's only a quick peck. My 4 yr old is so attached to one of her sitters that she often puckers for her, but again it's only a quick kiss and it's not while in bed or anything. I know there are a lot of parents who don't, but my kids are really affectionate. wow, good luck.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 2:10 PM

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my husband and I kiss our 2 and 4 year old on the lips, just a quick peck like the 2:10 poster. We also cuddle in bed in the morning sometimes. But my kids would never ask to get in bed in the middle of the day. They do what ever they can to stay OUT of bed.

But now that you bring it up I remember asking my babysitter to do this with me when I was little, maybe about 5 or 6? I just thought it would be fun, like playing grown up. I remember she said she didn't want to do that. When I asked her again she said she just wouldn't be very comfortable with that. So we played something else. It was no big deal.
Though thinking about it now it probably was a big deal on some level since I remember it clearly. I think it was handled very well. It taught me a bit about appropriate personal boundries and gave me a good response to give to others if they crossed my personal boundries.

Oh, and it was definately just an innocent idea of a fun game. My parents gave me plenty of approriate affection.

You sound like a good, observant caregiver. I say keep your eyes out for any other signs of anything inappropiate going on, find out why he is interested in kissing in bed, and set up some boundries.

Good luck.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 2:58 PM

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I liked 2:58 and the advice at the end.

I have a 4 year old and I could see her doing the same thing. And the stuff they come up with - it has many, many sources - home life, tv, friends, books, etc. I remember about 8 months ago she started trying to kiss me and my husband like she saw the princesses kissing the prince. Eyes shut, head tilted, lips parted - we laughed about it, but it still kinda freaked us ou - even though we knew where it was coming from. I can only imagine what a babysitter would think!





Thursday, January 24, 2008, 3:19 PM

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I am an early childhood educator,,,not normal! what I mean is you in bed w/ him you now have to change that routine also mention this to his mom..let her know that you are sure it is innocent but get her in on it or the dad..you know them best . he trusts you that is awesome and great you are looking for advice but chances are if you are asking the ? then your gut is telling you not normal...there are kids stories out about appropriate kisses and touches, but continue to be firm but gentle.. also replace you in the bed w/ stuffed toy that you can buy for him,, like now when you ask to cuddle you can take your special animal to bed..and explain that he only kisses mommy and daddy on the lips b/c that is so special w/ you come up w/ special hand shake or special song that is just special to him w/ you,,,good luck!

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 4:19 PM

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I agree that kids get a lot of things from TV and movies. I wouldn't jump to conclusions that there is abuse or inappropriate behavior. Also, I am not an expert, but often if the child is being abused, they would be secretive and uncomfortable with those types of displays of affection. Perhaps it is a combination of an affectionate home (my parents kissed us on the lips when we were small children, and we also did lots of snuggling), and things he has seen that he doesn't understand. Next time he asks, you can ask some casual, simple questions to investigate where the got the idea, just for your own information, but the best thing to do would be to not give it too much attention... just direct his attention elsewhere and move on.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 4:22 PM

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