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kiss; mouth; feelings; culture; glandular; fever; tooth; decay;


What is kissing?

kissingPucker up your lips, lean forward and press them onto your hand. That's a kiss!

Usually kissing is about one person kissing another person.

Adults kiss kids, kids kiss adults, adults kiss adults, but sometimes people kiss dolls, pets, medals, good luck charms, religious symbols and heaps of other things - even the ground! (I've sometimes felt like doing that after a pretty rough trip on a boat or plane!)

A person who is kissed feels good because someone has shown that they care about them.

How a kiss works

  • The muscles around the mouth squeeze together.
  • Other facial muscles move.
  • A message goes to the brain via the facial muscles.
  • Your brain orders the body to produce chemicals which makes the person feel good.

Why kiss?

Have you ever seen a baby bird being fed by its mum or dad? The adult bird chews up the food then pops it into the mouth of the baby. In the olden days, before baby dinners were invented, humans used to chew up food for the baby to eat. Some scientists believe that this is how kissing started.

kissingOther scientists don't agree. They think that kissing was a way to get close to someone and check out that they were a friend, like monkeys do.

Most people believe that kissing is really a good way to show someone that you care about them.



Types of kisses

* People kiss when they meet a friend, a relative, a boyfriend or girlfriend.
* Different cultures have different ideas about kissing.
* Some cultures always kiss on the cheeks; once on one cheek, once on both cheeks, or 3 times, depending on what the tradition is.
* Some cultures kiss on the mouth, some shake hands and don't kiss, and some cultures believe that kissing should only happen in private, no matter who is kissing! kissing the hand
* In the olden days, men would kiss a lady on the hand, a knight would kiss his Lord on the hand, and some people would kiss the hem of someone's robe if they thought that he or she was a very holy person.

Dangers of kissing!

* There are millions of germs in the human mouth! Kissing someone else's mouth helps these germs to move over into a new home and start up a whole new colony.
* It is thought that babies get the germs that cause tooth decay when they are kissed by someone on the mouth, especially if the person has bad teeth.
* Cold sores and glandular fever (which is often called the kissing disease), are two common infections which can be caught through kissing.
* You shouldn't let pets kiss or lick you near your mouth. They use their tongues to keep themselves clean - all over!

Interesting stuff about kissing

  • In Ireland there is a castle called Blarney Castle. People go there to kiss the Blarney Stone so that they will get the power of being a good talker and storyteller. Kissing the Blarney Stone is not easy. You have to lie on your back, hold onto two handles and lean backwards down a hole to kiss the stone while you are upside down.
  • Kissing under the mistletoe is a tradition that many people have around Christmas time. In the 'olden days' it was used to show that two people wanted to get married and that their parents agreed.
  • Eskimos and Polynesians kiss by touching noses together.
  • About 75% of people turn their heads to the right when they kiss, to avoid bumping noses.
  • The science of kissing is called philematology, (say fill-em-a-tol-o-gee).

What kids say

kissing grandma"In my family we can't be bothered to kiss, but I did when I was little."

"We have a big family and we always kiss on the cheeks when we meet. It's embarrassing sometimes when I'm with friends but I guess it's nice too."

"I was okay about kissing when I was little, but I feel shy now."

"My dad's whiskers prickle when he kisses me goodnight."

"In my family we always kiss mum and dad and the baby goodnight but not the others."

"I'm going out with someone but he hasn't kissed me yet."

"I think kissing is yucky and you get germs."

"When I was little I played kiss-chasey' with mum and dad. Some kids wanted to play kiss-chasey' in the playground but I didn't because I felt uncomfortable."

Dr Kim and Dr Kate say

Dr Kate and Dr KimEveryone needs to feel loved and cared for. Kissing when we meet other close friends and family is a great way to show that you care about each other and belong to the family. As they get older, kids may feel embarrassed about kissing people in the family, especially if other friends don't have that tradition in their families. Talk to mum, dad or a trusted adult if that's how you feel.

Have you noticed nowadays the many people do 'air kisses' on each other's cheeks and make a 'mwah' sound? It's the kiss you do when you are not really kissing.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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