50 Dangerous Things: Kiss Hello Like the French

Task: Learn a new type of greeting – and learn to laugh off embarrassments.



  • Another person (preferably someone who is willing to kiss you)

Possible Hazards:

  • Cooties
  • Slap
  • Embarrassment

How It All Went Down:

I know what you’re thinking … how on earth can air kissing be considered dangerous?  Well, it shouldn’t be physically dangerous.  Unless you get slapped, of course, and that’s on you for not choosing your partner wisely.  But learning a new greeting, or finding yourself in the midst of a different cultural norm than you’re used to, can be embarrassing.  By learning to feel comfortable in these kinds of situations and being able to laugh off any awkwardness, we can teach kids a valuable lesson: we all get embarrassed sometimes.  Using humor to overcome embarrassment helps to build confidence.  It also teaches kids to recognize personal space and get a sense of what they’re comfortable with.

This form of greeting is actually pretty normal for me.  My mom is Spanish, and many of my relatives live in Spain.  This is the way we greet each other.  My kids, however, are not at all accustomed to this.  We’re planning a trip abroad either this summer or next, so we might as well get used to kissing like the Europeans!  Here’s how you do it:

  • Stand a few steps apart from your partner.
  • Greet each other (Bonjour! for French, Hola! for Spanish).
  • Put your right hand on their left shoulder.
  • Tilt your head slightly to the right and lean in so that your left cheek touches their left cheek.
  • Make a kissing noise with your lips, or lightly kiss the other person’s cheek.
  • Lean back.
  • Repeat on the other cheek.

This greeting is common between friends, family, and even new acquaintances, but would definitely not be used in business situations. Now that would be awkward.  Allow Elena and I to demonstrate (and kudos to Eli, our cameraman!).

Want more?  Read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).