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Kissing Children In Your Care


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How do you feel about practitioners kissing the childrin in your care?

I saw a colleauge kiss a child on the top of his head last week and I felt very uncomfortable by this but not really sure why exactly. I spoke to another colleague who said as far as she was concerned it was a no go area and she'd never do it. I spoke to my manager about it because I wanted to know where we stand on that kind of thing, and she said it was up to me and what I felt comfortable with. I don't understand how this can be true? Am I missing something here???

 

How do you feel about this issue?

 

 

Lluna.

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Its a total no-no. Cannot be allowed at all. I'll try and upload my Code of Conduct for Physical Contact which you could use as a basis for discussion with your staff team, and come up with an agreed set of rules for your setting about what is and isn't acceptable. As you will see ours also had parental input and agreement

Code_of_Conduct_Phys._Contact.doc

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sorry am i missing something!!in my settinf displays of affection are shown all the time!i work in a private day nursery within pre-school room.Children are allowed to sit on staffs knees if the wish ,are often lifted up although we are limiting this as children are going to school and need to develop independance.Staff kiss chidren often -all about positive and close relations

especially if a child is hurt or upset wll want a cuddle and a reassuring pat!

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this has got me thinking.

i have given children a kiss on the cheek. its not all the time obviously. often parents will say good buy to jeanine and give her a kiss and i will turn my cheek.

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I attended a safeguarding conference this week where the myth of no physical contact was discussed, it is a myth and down to each individual setting. WHat about children kissing adults? I got a kiss (on the hand) from a child as we both left on friday, his mum was fine with it.

I think our setting which has a few children who are in our care from 8.30 - 6 monday to friday need to have a balance around this area. These children spend a long time with us and without someone who 'is allowed' to have physical contact with them. Should these children not be comforted and held if they want to be? I have a running joke with one of our children who only lets his mum kiss him, I always offer him a kiss when he looks a little down, he smiles in response 95% of the time, but I don't kiss him, I pretend and he pretends to detest.

We try to build a secondary attachment with our children, in this case children would feel completely rejected if these secondary attachemnt figures refused to hold them or kiss them when they requested it.

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HI

 

as the manager of a private day nursery i do not have a problem with staff kissing the children. all staff are affectionate towards the children, (kisses on forehead, cuddles). staff do not kiss children on the lips (as a parent may do) and staff share their affections equally, no child is favourtised. some of the children spend more time at nursery than they do at home, therefore of course they need, and indeed deserve physical affection, which is what they would be getting at home.

all of our parents are happy with this and no one has ever challenged any of us for the affection we show to the children.

we do howevere really start to encourage the independance as the children get ready for school, still these children are welcomed for kisses and cuddles if they want them.

 

Dawn

Edited by Guest
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LJW - I find it very interesting that you have piggy backs on your list of acceptable contact! Purely because it'd never occur to me to give a child a piggy back? Are there many times when this situation occurs?

 

And Lluna - Welcome to the forum! I'm not sure how I feel about this really? I don't think I'd personally kiss a child in my care, unless they had asked for it. We had a child who cut their finger, and a parent helper said to him in a jokey way, "Oh shall I kiss it better?" and he said "Yes please" so she did! If a child asked me to kiss something better, I wouldn't ever say no (Unless it was inappropriate obviously) as that would be to deny a child their needs, But it would have to be totally on the child's terms. I would never just kiss a child for no reason. Maybe this is the case with the member of staff you're talking about?

 

Eclmmcca - I don't think this is about not showing affection to a child it's about showing affection appropriately. Because to not show any affection to the children in your care would like I said before, this would be denying them their needs.

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Interesting as I had to gently chide a member of staff this week for kissing a child on the lips. Her reaction was 'I don't mind', when I said it was a no-no. So I just said that she may pass things on to the child. Personally I don't like to see adults kissing children on the lips, but perhaps that's just me being prudish?

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im a childinder, i look after children 6 months to school- so, if I have a baby till about 4yrs. do I, dont I kiss? Yes I do,

 

I build up a very close bond with these children, and although the physical contact reduces as they get older, we still maintain physical contact, which includes cuddles, holding hands, sitting on laps and personal care- I also tell them that they are special and still have the ocasional kiss. But I still know the bounderies- Its the best job in the world and nuturing a childs well being, is as important as all the rest.

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This just reminded me of one little boy who was leaving not long after I started work, and I hadn't really got to know him very well.

But mum said to him, "Say goodbye and give her a kiss and a cuddle" and he did give me a kiss right on the lips! I was a bit taken aback seeing as I didn't know him very well, and usually when parents say to their children to give someone a kiss and a cuddle they often just give you a cuddle. But it was lovely at the same time.

 

:o

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But it was lovely at the same time.

Just not so lovely when they have a streaming cold though! :o

 

Maz

 

PS We don't have a policy about kissing children, but what strikes me is whether children actually want us to kiss them. Whatever physical contact we initiate with children must be because the children themselves want it and not to fulfil some need of our own.

 

That's my soapbox moment of the day...

Edited by HappyMaz
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We must also ensure that we're not opening ourselves up to allegations too. Also need to take into account the wishes of the parents - do they really want us passing on our virus' to their children? I get cold sores (herpes simplex) because an aunt used to kiss me who suffered with them. Perhaps I'm paranoid, I don't know.

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Cait, the allegations comment is exactly where I was coming from. You just can't be too careful and what we deem as acceptable just might be misunderstood by someone else, hence the Code of Conduct I posted. As for piggybacks, this isn't a frequent occurrence but the children do love it. It must have been a common activity when we first wrote the procedure!

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As for piggybacks, this isn't a frequent occurrence but the children do love it. It must have been a common activity when we first wrote the procedure!

 

Fantastic!!

 

:o

I'm going to start giving the children at work piggy backs everywhere now. haha

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I think Im on the fence with this one

 

I dont give the children kisses but some times they come up to me and give me a big hug and say "I love you" and before I know it they have planted the slimiest kiss (yeah a snotty one!)

 

I dont feel it sends good messages to the children to reject their affection, push them away and keeping them at arms length isnt quite natural either, but I think staff need to keep some professional distance

 

.......and theres the comforting after an accident some children ask you to "kiss it better" which I normally kiss a finger and pass it on

 

I think encouraging children to blow kisses is a nice compromise and spending time talking to the children about colds and germs might help children to understand without them feeling rejected.

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Another interesting discussion!!

 

Personally, i do not kiss children and if they want to kiss me then i offer my cheek. I just wouldn't feel comfortable with kissing someone elses child, i have always believed it is something special between parent and child.

 

Our EYAT visited two weeks ago and took me to one side, saying that she had witnessed a member of staff kissing a baby, this she had seen on two different occasions and stressed that this should not be happening, unfortunatley i never found out the reason for her feelings but thought i would pass her views on.

 

Just one other thought, i think Cait mentioned cold sores and i was thinking about that awful case recently where a mum who had a cold sore passed it to her baby through kissing and the baby didn't survive. This needs considering too.

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The only children that I would kiss on the lips are my grandchildren.

 

I do occasionally 'drop' a kiss on the top of a child's head and I do kiss better - fingers, hands etc.

 

I always give cuddles as and when needed - I have posted this before but happy to say again that I would be very disappointed if my grandchildren didn't receive a cuddle from their caregivers/teachers if they were upset/hurt.

 

Yesterday had a huge hug from a 14 year old girl who attended pre-school many moons ago - she was the instigator (Sp?) - but how lovely that she still feels and wants to demonstrate this affection for me - can't think of many other jobs where this would happen!

 

Sunnyday

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The only children that I would kiss on the lips are my grandchildren.

 

I do occasionally 'drop' a kiss on the top of a child's head and I do kiss better - fingers, hands etc.

 

I always give cuddles as and when needed - I have posted this before but happy to say again that I would be very disappointed if my grandchildren didn't receive a cuddle from their caregivers/teachers if they were upset/hurt.

 

Yesterday had a huge hug from a 14 year old girl who attended pre-school many moons ago - she was the instigator (Sp?) - but how lovely that she still feels and wants to demonstrate this affection for me - can't think of many other jobs where this would happen!

 

Sunnyday

 

How lovely Sunnyday, you obviously meant a lot to her. I remember years ago when my son was small and I was picking him up from his childminder. A 16 year old boy knocked at the door of the childminder and threw his arms round her when she opened the door. It turns out my childminder had been this boys nanny for many years and he still popped in to see her and to talk to her about things. It was a lovely moment and made me feel really comforted that the woman who was looking after my little boy was such a kind and caring person.

 

Oh and by the way I don't kiss the children in my care, but do offer cuddles when required and accept the sloppy kisses on the cheek which I find are very difficult to dodge sometimes from the little ones in my care, mrsW.x

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I know I have been like sunnyday and have found myself drop a little kiss on the head of a child whilst engaged in something. I have done this completely unconsciously, in the same way I might for my own children. I think this comes of being a parent, and working in a small rural playgroup where you get a strong bond with the children.

 

I wouldn't generally do this to all children though, and certainly not to any for whom it might be unwelcome. I think it's important to take your lead from the child as to how much physical contact they want or need. The age of the child is also key here. Research has shown that babies need to have a lot of physical contact, so for this reason I think there is nothing wrong with staff in a baby room giving them kisses and cuddles. The thought of a small baby in a day care nursery going all day without a kiss from someone actually makes me quite sad! :o

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There are some children in my preschool who are very affectionate and quite often come and give me a cuddle and a kiss and ask for one back! I would never refuse, although I draw the line at kissing on the lips, always on the cheek or hand. I think it damages children's self esteem to reject their affection and I don't know of any parent who would happily say you must refuse a kiss/never kis my child. It's interesting tho - maybe I should have a poll among the parents...

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Back to my original point....

Why not have the discussion as a staff team and come up with an agreed way forward so that you are consistent. The Code of Conduct will help. I believe that in this day and age we have to have something in writing to protect ourselves, not to do so is to leave yourselves very vulnerable.......

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think it would be a good idea to set boundaries together that you are all comfortable with..

 

We always went with the child and their needs , often parents would say give kiss & cuddle, say bye etc. we had one child who would only come in happy if he could kiss everyone on arrival... this did eventually stop but it was his need at the time. Think it can be a quick judgement at the time, but we would not kiss a child who had not instigated it.. fine line to follow, but it was how we dealt with it.

 

since leaving I occasionally visit, and I am often greeted by a child running at me to hug and kiss me it is very spontaneous and I would not wish to stop them.( staff too! )

 

And what about parents hugging you, are you happy with this... I did find many doing this when I had been off for a while, did not bother me as they obviously felt they needed to,

 

And like sunny day have often had a child long left come an give me a hug , once in the local high street.

 

Inge

Edited by Inge
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Hello.

 

I am a childminder and it depends on the child as to whether I kiss or not.

 

I find some children are affectionate and others are not.

 

I certainly don't do 'on the lips', but dont mind cheeks.

 

When you have a young child from 8am til 6pm every day, it is difficult not to return affection.

 

I find the plus 5s only want a cuddle if they are unhappy or hurt themselves.

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Just one other thought, i think Cait mentioned cold sores and i was thinking about that awful case recently where a mum who had a cold sore passed it to her baby through kissing and the baby didn't survive. This needs considering too.

How sad that something so life affirming could ultimately result in the death of a baby.

 

Maz

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A very interesting and subjective topic. A warm welcome to the forum Lluna and thanks for starting this debate. :o

 

Like others I have mixed feelings about this (that's why it's so subjective). As a mother, kisses are a 'natural' way to show affection, as a child care professional (preschool and Foster care), my training has taught me that what is 'natural' with our own children is not always 'acceptable' within society or even for the child, when caring for children in a professional capacity (ie: not your own). Some of the 'reasons' about how we conduct ourselves, we may not agree with, but they are there anyway, some reasons we may not have even considered.

 

I think LJWs suggestion that a policy needs to be discussed and agreed is sensible as already you have shown to have in your workplace 4 different perspectives of how this type of contact should be considered; yours, the staff member giving the kiss, your other colleague and your managers. Consistency is the key to any practice within our settings so that children and staff know where they stand.

 

So, what to consider;

Parents wishes, - although these may not necessarily be the......

Childs wishes - (I had a parent insisted her child kiss everyone goodbye, she did as told and always tried to kiss on lips, you could tell she was reluctant...I used to say quite loudly, ooh no kiss today thanks, I've got a cold but a big hug would be nice if you like, which she was happy to do, will come back to this later - CP issue)

Staffs wishes - Does this contact make staff feel 'uncomfortable' to witness.

As Maz commented, are the 'kisses' offered to meet their own needs for reciprocated affection? (this, I have experienced from a member of staff who was very needy of the children to gain a sense of own self esteem / well being).

Would a staff member consider a whole day without a kiss is 'sad'? as Beau says.

Childs needs (different from wishes) - Attachment / bonding - can this occur without kissing?

Comforting when hurt, will only a kiss do to placate a hurt finger? I personally like Alisons suggestion of kissing own finger and passing it on, or blowing a kiss, this would certainly help ward against germ spreading...

Health - passing of viruses, which in the extreme as Lucy P states can be very serious. but health also includes well-being, again can this be met without kisses?

Safeguarding against accusation - as a Foster carer, I struggle with this one, to 'parent' foster children but not open myself to allegations, this is all about perception, what is the intent of physical contact, how will other people interpret my actions / my intent? and more importantly (as I take it as said, we all have no intent to harm) what is THE CHILDS perception of our intent. Sadly there are children in our care who have experienced harmful physical contact, many we may not know about, some we will. Remember the child who's mother insisted she gave everyone a kiss? Well, the childs reluctance was real for a very serious reason, when her father 'kissed' her it went much further. The mother was not aware of this until after CP investigations. There are two issues here, with this child we were inadvertently reminding her of 'unthinkable' connections with the act of kissing. The other issue is that a child may percieve our 'innocent' advances as a threat, they may eventually speak out and get mixed up, maybe 'disclosing' something like "Peggy kissed me or Peggy snogged me", leaving me open to investigation. ( the child may feel it's easier to 'tell' on Peggy who gives 'kisses', rather than Dad, all the child knows is that he/she wants to tell) - sorry if this is difficult for some of you to read, but unfortunately this is not such a rarety as we would all wish it to be, the risk of 'false allegations' are quite high in our profession and the safeguarding from it, for all staff, does need to be taken seriously).

 

What if the setting decides kissing is ok- consider;

What type of kissing is appropriatte?

Think about mixed messages, to a child, Why is it ok on the cheek and not the lips??, all be consistent with answers.

 

What if the settings decides it's not ok;

How then do we meet the childs 'comfort' needs, bonding / attachment needs? What ways can we show affection?

How do we dis-encourage the child who offers a kiss (or even gives one) without showing rejection?

Can you help children to understand it's ok for mum, dad, relative etc but 'we don't do it here, but hugs are fine?

( My foster daughter arrived with us aged 4 yrs, kisses own mum on lips, I am now her Foster 'mum', but taught her 'we don't kiss on lips, that's a special kiss just for your 'real' mum) She accepted this and now even 'plays the game' of puckering up her lips, moving towards me, then quickly lifting her hand to 'blow' me a kiss. (Just like Wendles example of the game she plays with the boy in her setting). This 'act' of affection between me and my foster daughter, I think, actually bonds us closer and means more than a 'routine' bedtime kiss. It also helps her to differentiatte between me and her real mum, in a fun, secure way.

 

Is there a difference between the needs of babies compared to 2/3 yr olds, again consider mixed messages if 2/3 yr olds share the same room.

 

WOW, lots to consider, and I'm sure more than everyones mentioned here. It will be interesting, if you decide to discuss this at work, what your setting eventually agrees. Will you let us know?

 

Peggy

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Peggy what well considered post you have made, and you raised that difficult subject of CP and have spoken with the voice of experience. Sadly what may seem like an innocent action can have unforeseen consequences for a child or for the adult. I think it will give everyone food for thought, and help people make up their own minds about the importance of putting the child's needs first and foremost.

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Peggy what well considered post you have made, and you raised that difficult subject of CP and have spoken with the voice of experience. Sadly what may seem like an innocent action can have unforeseen consequences for a child or for the adult. I think it will give everyone food for thought, and help people make up their own minds about the importance of putting the child's needs first and foremost.

 

 

Thank you JacquiL, although most of the 'thoughts' came from previous commentators'.

I didn't want to suggest one way or another because this is such a 'value' based decision for each individual setting to make. I think there are too many people who tend to say "you should............or you must not........." and this is where 'urban myths' evolve from. When 'urban myths' get repeated they seem to grow in 'credibility/strength' and people sincerely believe they should be followed, the danger of this is when the actual 'subject' is then not given any thought.

Any practice a setting decides to follow, each and every member of staff (and parents and children) need to understand the rationalle behind such decisions 'to do or not to do'. Without this 'discussion' we cannot reflect, moderate or change if necessary or ensure consistency in our practice.

 

Peggy

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