You Can't Force Children to Kiss in Greeting

08 February, 2020
A greeting kiss is a social norm in many cultures. In many countries, it's customary to say hello or goodbye with a kiss. But for children, a kiss is a sign of love. Therefore, it's not good to force children to kiss when greeting strangers.

For young children, a kiss is a sign of affection. Normally, they kiss their parents, siblings or grandparents to express love. Therefore, this action can make them uncomfortable with a stranger. They might even refuse to do so. That’s why you shouldn’t force children to kiss when greeting strangers.

Before doing so, you should ask them if they feel comfortable greeting with a kiss. Your child should be able to choose how to greet people. They should decide if they want to greet with a kiss or even a hi five.

Knowing and establishing limits is one of the bases of children’s growth. This includes limits of affection. Any child should choose whether or not to be close to a person.

Some parents think they’re children are rude for not kissing in greeting. However, there are many ways kids can demonstrate that they have manners when greeting. Shaking hands, verbally greeting or a pat on the back are signs of good manners.

Who You Shouldn’t Force Children to Kiss in Greeting

It’s healthy for parents to have an open conversation with their children about love and education. They should understand that expressions of affection are a spontaneous way of expressing love. Meanwhile, good manners and education show respect to other people.

Don't force children to kiss

Although children should be kind to adults, don’t force children to kiss adults in greeting.This way, they’re able to set their own boundaries. This is especially important for when they’re around strangers.

It’s important to not force children to kiss because this can make them feel vulnerable. Infants can become complacent about showing affection and thinking it makes them well-mannered. This can expose them to situations of harassment or abuse.

Children are usually abused by people that are very close to them. It can happen as a result when wanting to show affection. They end up being forced to please the other person and can’t say no to physical contact.

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Respect what your child wants

After a certain age, some children stop kissing or kiss less often than before. It might be from shyness, because they don’t like the person, or because they aren’t in the mood.

However, if your child doesn’t want to show affection, should you insist?

No, you shouldn’t force children to kiss. Put yourself in their place and try to imagine how uncomfortable you’d feel to kiss someone you don’t want to. How would you feel?

Kisses shouldn’t be a sign of good manners

For adults in many cultures, kissing is a sign of manners when greeting someone. For kids, however, a kiss is a way of showing affection to those they love.

Kid giving a hi five as a sign of affection - Don't force children to kiss

Manners are rules of behavior and courtesy that you should teach your children. However, instead of forcing them to give kisses, replace it by saying “good morning”, “good afternoon” or “good evening” when you go somewhere. Even a high-five is a great option.

Kisses have meaning

A greeting kiss is a social norm in many cultures. In many countries, it’s customary to say hello or goodbye with a kiss. But for children, a kiss is a sign of love. Therefore, it’s not good to force children to kiss when greeting strangers.

Children shouldn’t be forced to do something they don’t want to do. Much less, don’t make them feel bad about themselves for refusing. Don’t be offended when they refuse. On the other hand, see things from their point of view.

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Your child won’t become distant

Sometimes, kids go through phases. They might refuse to give kisses, even to their parents or close relatives. T

However, this doesn’t mean they will be more closed off about their feelings. They will kiss you when they really want to and feel like it. If you force a child to give kisses, they will only want to get away from you.

They can become more vulnerable to abuse

Although it may sound like an exaggeration, if you force a child to kiss when they don’t want to, they’re more likely to approach strangers. This is why they should learn to refuse physical contact at an early age. Otherwise, they might get the idea that being affectionate with strangers is synonymous with good manners.

Children shouldn't kiss when they don't want to. Don't force children to kiss

Forcing a child to kiss can give them the idea that they don’t own their own body. It’s important to teach them they do have control over their body. Otherwise, they can be more complacent and passive.


It’s important to ask your child if they want to greet and say goodbye with kisses. Don’t force children to kiss. Make it clear that they can if they want to, and it’s just a way to say hello. Do you want to greet your cousin with a kiss?” If they say no, leave them alone.

In general, children differentiate between kisses of love and courtesy as they get older. The quickest way for them to learn is to watch their parents say hello and goodbye with kisses. This way, they will end up imitating that behavior and adapt to social norms.

Finally, it’s necessary for parents to have an open conversation with their children about this. There’s a difference between being well-mannered and being affectionate. Affection needs to happen naturally. It shouldn’t be a way to please others.

  • Alonso Parreño, M. J. (2008). DERECHO A LA EDUCACIÓN. In Los derechos del niño con discapacidad en España.
  • Meneses, M. Monge, M. (2001). El juego en los niños: enfoque teórico. Revista Educación.
  • Gardner, H. (2007). Educación artística y desarrollo humano. Paidós educador.