Child Therapist Weighs In on What It Really Does When You Kiss Your Kid on the Mouth

Let’s be honest; when it comes to doling out parenting advice, it’s safe to say that not everyone is going to be happy with what even trained experts have to say. Sure, a child psychologist could spend the better part of their career forming an opinion on how kids should be raised, but that doesn’t mean that their other colleagues share the same sentiments.

Take the topic of affection, for instance. Depending on who you ask, you can get two completely different answers as to how you should show love to your little ones, especially when it comes to behavior that holds a different meaning as kids mature—i.e. pecks on the lips.

In recent years, an online debate has been raging regarding at which age kissing on the mouth should end, and whether it should ever be done in the first place.

In an interview with the legendary mommy blog, The Stir, child and educational psychologist Dr. Charlotte Reznick provided what ended up being quite the controversial response to whether or not it’s healthy for parents to kiss their kids on the lips.

She started off by saying that there isn’t necessarily too much harm in kissing very young children, but it does get much dicier as they get older, which means parents probably shouldn’t start doing it in the first place.

“If you start kissing your kids on the lips, when do you stop?” the psychologist asks. “It gets very confusing.”

The question originally came up when the site posted a picture of actor Harry Connick Jr. giving a quick peck on the lips to his eight-year-old daughter. There’s obviously nothing inappropriate going on in the picture, just a dad greeting his little girl, but the image certainly did end up sparking a whole lot of debate.

One expert’s full take on why this display of affection has got to go

Now, we understand Dr. Reznick’s reasoning for dissuading parents from beginning a behavior that should be phased out quickly anyway, but we’re guessing that you too are a bit confused as to why it shouldn’t ever be practiced.

In the same interview, the doctor explains that a child’s sexual awareness begins budding rather young, so even innocent kissing can create muddled senses of boundaries.

“As a child gets to 4 or 5 or 6 and their sexual awareness comes out (and some have an awareness earlier…) the kiss on the lips can be stimulating to them,” she says.

Sure, it’s not necessarily a comfortable subject to think about, but it’s one that the psychologist feels strongly enough to make public. “If I had to answer when to stop kissing your kids on the lips, it would be now,” she asserts.

With that said, there have been plenty of rebuttals from other psychologists who feel much differently.

After The Stir article came out, another clinical psychologist by the name of Dr. Sally-Anne McCormack gave Dr. Reznick the equivalent of a virtual eye roll by telling The Sun, “There’s absolutely no way that kissing a young child on the lips is confusing for them in any way,” she says. “That’s like saying breastfeeding is confusing.”

We can’t wait to hear what all of you have to say about this controversial subject! Do you kiss your little ones on the lips? If so, when is a good age to stop? Has your doctor ever recommended that you don’t give your kiddos pecks?