The Kissing Conundrum

kissing conundrumI have a kissing conundrum.  I see several adorable kiddos that love to give kisses, both in therapy and in my special needs church classroom on Sundays.  How they love everyone around them (most days) is one of their gifts, but the cautious side of me worries a bit. My phrase of the day has been “Kisses are for mommy and daddy”.  I tell my kids that I love them too, then try to redirect with a high-five or a fist bump.

Out in the world, randomly kissing people they know, and those they don’t, can make them vulnerable. It can make boundaries a little fuzzy.  It makes them stand out as they get older. I saw this last week with one of my favorite former students, who is now in middle school.  He walked up to introduce himself to a new volunteer in our church class last week unprompted (yay!).  As he was greeting the new guy, he then leaned over and kissed his hand.  The poor volunteer didn’t really know what to do, and he was a bit perplexed.  He looked at me and smiled nervously.

I took my buddy to the side and we chatted a bit about how you introduce yourself to someone you have never met before.  I then asked him what he thought the man was thinking when a stranger kissed his hand.  My friend sat there a minute thinking about it and said to me, “Okay, watch this”.  He then walked over to someone else he hadn’t met, introduced himself, shook their hand and looked at me smiling.  No kisses.  Perfect, a teachable moment that worked!

Thinking about this situation, I started wondering when do we need to start this discussion with families?  How old is too old?  How young is too young?  How do we foster and support our kids as they grow into young adults with healthy boundaries, without losing that loving spirit?  Now you understand my kissing conundrum.   I have made social stories for my little ones and used the Circle of Friends visual targets with my older students.  Any suggestions, especially for middle-schoolers through young adults, would be greatly appreciated.  Share here!!

One thought on “The Kissing Conundrum

  1. Hey Heidi, it is great when the opportunity of teachable moments are right there where we are with our students, the instruction given holds more meaning for the child. I feel kindergarten age is too old for kissing. I had a student who wanted to hug peers and began doing this to strangers in the community. I really like using also the Circle of Friend boundaries visual when teaching how our social behaviors / interactions must change depending on where we are. Understanding the perspective of others and the predicted outcomes is really hard sometimes requiring daily practice of social stories and practice of the defined correct behavior outlined in the social story. The benefit of using a social story autopsy is that understanding negative and positive perspectives of others in response to our social behaviors are discussed and defined in the story. This work has to be done over and over with more than one teaching occasion at school, at home, and before going into various community settings.
    Suzanne

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