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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 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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4:19 for an early childhood educator I am shocked at your response. I am also an early childhood educator and in my opinion this is not normal for a 4 year old to ask. I think the OP needs to find out more. The 1:18 poster had some good advice and I would ask questions. Find out what you can but only after he asks again. As far as taking naps with him you might want to stop that. If he answers your questions talk to the dad or mom about the issue. Find out what they think about it. But if any part of you says it is something more you need to protect that child and talk to child services.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 7:56 PM

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It's most likely normal. Maybe the Mom or Dad has a new bf/gf and the kid has seen them cuddle like that. Obviously, you should talk it over with the parents. Then you can come up with a plan of action and response to this behavior. Kids are curious, kids are sponges. Chances are he's seen this in one of his homes or on TV and it looks pleasant, so he wants to act it out with you.

I work with children everyday.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 8:12 PM

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I am shocked at how poorly written 4:19's post is. If you are educating those who educate our children . . .eek!

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 10:03 PM

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OP here...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I actually feel alot better about the whole thing now that I've heard some other peoples opinions. After reading and considering everyone's posts, I've come up with a plan of action, if you will.
4:22 - After reading yours, I remembered that I had a list of how sexual abuse manifests itself in different age children(obtained during foster care training). He exhibits none of those behaviours, so I'm going to go on the assumption that he has seen adults, whether in real life or on tv, doing these types of things and wants to as 2:58 said "play grown-up." However, if this arises again I will, as the first 4 posters & others suggested, casually ask some questions and then set some boundaries while trying not to make a big deal out of it.
Also for clarification, I have no problem with parents who kiss their children on the lips.
Thanks again guys, I really feel like I have a better handle on how to deal with this.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 10:39 PM

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I would totally tell his parents....It's better you than him. If he were to tell his parents that you guys lay in bed, cuddle and could lose your job or worse.

Be careful!

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 10:40 PM

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Wow. When I first read the Op's post, I thought "man, staying out of this one" as I had no idea what to think. (I'm single, no kids, no nephews or nieces, brother is about my age, and I babysat maybe 5 times in my entire 26 years).

I'm impressed by all the posts and the don't worry attitude. You all had explanations I never would have thought of, but make perfect sense.

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 11:42 PM

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4:19 here

To you two who responded to my entry please reread my entry, perhaps it was unclear I stated that it is NOT normal! Also do not be rude! This OP is looking to get answers so to try and draw attention to someone's writting style, well it is inappropriate. There is a child perhaps at risk.Please stop w/ the negative comments on this web site. To the OP I am happy that you found some answers. Just please always keep the parents posted I think so often people wait to long to include them . I have worked w/ many abused children and often many caregivers or surrounding adults always think/assume the parents are aware. Also it may not be abuse but a parent should be given the opportunity to have there input on a situation as serious as this one.And it is serious enough b/c you cared enough to post it. Good for you and good luck!

Thursday, January 24, 2008, 11:51 PM

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4:19 I think it is you who should reread your post. Then you might realize it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Perhaps you were thinking to fast and couldn't type fast enough to keep up. There are not many negative comments here on this thread. I think it is clear that everyone who responded had good input. I also think that the biggest mistake the OP could do is to tell the parents before having the chance to find out more info. If in fact the parents are abusing this boy they could just fire her and then what sort of leverage would the OP have? You say that you have worked with many abused children and that perhaps this child is at risk but in the same comment you advise the OP to talk to the parents, what the hell is that? And I have to agree that your writing really needs to be improved. You are advising one thing but defending another.

Friday, January 25, 2008, 3:10 AM

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It sounds like you have a good plan, OP. Definitely include a talk with the parents about this, too. Not only for your own protection ("Susie and I lay in bed and kiss!") but maybe they have some insight.

Friday, January 25, 2008, 9:46 AM

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It's not that uncommon. My youngest son did that for a while, although i told him we should kiss on the cheeks and not like Mommy and Daddy do. He was basically trying to mimic us. But, I think it's a good thing in a way, it means, hopefully, that his parents show some affection towards eachother in front of him. That's much better than fighting or arguing all the time.

Friday, January 25, 2008, 1:28 PM

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Really think about's different when a parent cuddles with a child and a babysitter cuddles with a child. Just protect yourself. I agree that you should involve the parents.

Friday, January 25, 2008, 7:06 PM

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OP here again...

I agree w/you 7:06 which is why I was uncomfortable w/him attempting to kiss me on the lips.

For clarification: I do NOT lay in bed and snuggle with and/or kiss him. As I stated in my original post, I ceased giving any opportunities for this to occur after the second occurrence. I do give him lots of hugs and occasionally kisses through out the day. It seemed maybe some people were misunderstanding this. The question was: "should I be concerned that he asks me to do this?" Sorry if I'm a little vehement, I just really don't want to be misunderstood about this.

Saturday, January 26, 2008, 1:14 AM

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You're fine, OP. It's an anonymous message board!

Saturday, January 26, 2008, 7:45 AM

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Sounds a bit strange I agree with the other posters. Could be nothing, could be something. I have two girls ages nine and five and I kiss them on the lips. I never think anything of a quick kiss to tell them I love them. (I am their mom)

Saturday, January 26, 2008, 2:21 PM

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Some children develop sexual urges at a young age and do not understand what they are. They know that the kissing and cuddling feels extra "good" and so of course they want to do it. I think the changes you have made are reasonable.

Monday, January 28, 2008, 3:38 PM

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so what are you going to do OP?

Monday, January 28, 2008, 3:52 PM

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Sorry 7:06 OP...I meant that he wants to lay down with you...what if he tells his parents that you are laying in bed with him cuddling and kissing...or if he tells someone that doesn't know you...this could become serious. I again think that you should talk to the parents about this.

Monday, January 28, 2008, 4:03 PM

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OP here...

In response to 3:52 PM: He spends half his time with his mom. He is with her this week and at least the next week. She lives in a different state, so it will be a bit before I have him again. I believe I laid out my plan of action in an earlier post, and due to all the advice to speak to his dad about this, I am strongly considering it.

And you are right 7:06 also 4:03, it could be serious if he started telling people that. Sorry I overreacted to your earlier comment.

Thanks all!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008, 10:47 PM

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