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To Leash or Not to Leash

At first glance, the backpacks that have been popping up on toddlers lately look adorable. Soft monkeys, bears and dogs with straps. But look closer. The tail's attached to a grown-up.

They seemed to be haunting me as we explored Sesame Place one day last week. And then a friend sent a bunch of adorable photos of her kids at the San Diego Zoo. Sure enough, on their backs were the animals with leashes.

Are those leashes on the kids? I asked. Personally, I can't imagine trying to hold my kids via a strap, but I have, on occasion, had to grab a shirt collar to hold a kid back from danger unexpectedly. And some friends once lost their wandering preschooler in a crowded venue only to hear over the loudspeaker: "Will the parents of a little boy wearing x who says his parents' names are y and z please come to..." Some toddlers are escape artists after all.

My friend responded with an interesting take on these "harnesses," as she corrected me.

"Yes, we use a harness on some occasions. Primarily, if we are going to be in a large crowd. [Our son is] very independent and when he wants to go, he wants to do it on his own. He will fight you if you try to hold his hand and pick him up. He is very wiggly. So, if we don't want to use a stroller for some reason and are concerned about him getting loose, we will put it on him. One negative is if he bolts and you aren't expecting it, he will fall down. ... The time I like it the best is when we are actually boarding the plane, have to ditch the stroller and still have our hands full with carry-ons. The kids can't really escape at that point but I still like to have them close to me so they can't get hurt or in anyone's way. Both kids like them because they are snugly. We call the leash part the animal's tail and they don't mind wearing them."

It was a "revelation" to use harnesses for Babble.com's Strollerderby blogger Rachel Brownell: "Truthfully, it was our first mommy-daughters walk that didn't evoke pure mama panic. The harnesses kept them safe from their curiosity about traffic, and the taste of rocks, and the neighborhood pit bull."

Do you think of harnesses as one of the many safety tools we have at our disposal? Are you a fan or naysayer of these packs with leashes?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  July 2, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Preschoolers , Safety
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Comments


I am fortunate that my two kids have never made a brake for it. But I have a friend whose younger brother was a runner. He got away from his parents and hit and killed by a bus. While the thought of leashing my child is horrible to me, the thought of burying that child is far worse. If I had a runner, I would most likely consider it strongly.

Posted by: Burke Mom | July 1, 2008 7:18 AM | Report abuse

I haven't used one yet - but my 20 mo old is starting to fight the hand holding (right now, we give him the choice, either he holds our hand, or we carry him - he always opts for the hand). But if need be, I think it's a great way to keep kids safe. I don't want him lost or hit by any vehicles. That's the first priority.

Posted by: Sarah | July 1, 2008 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Do FATHERS use these leashes on their kids?

Posted by: Curious | July 1, 2008 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Burke Mom

"I am fortunate that my two kids have never made a brake for it.


Spelling Police!

Posted by: Hall monitor | July 1, 2008 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Great topic today!

Yesterday I saw a mother giving her toddler a walk on one of those leashes. When they got to the corner, the kid lifted his leg and pissed on the fire hydrant.

Posted by: Potty Traner | July 1, 2008 7:26 AM | Report abuse

To Curious: In the case of my friend, her husband was with her at several places where she has used the harness.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | July 1, 2008 7:26 AM | Report abuse

I never had one nor used one on my kids. while my kids went through a stage where they didn't want to hold my hand, they were always amenable to being picked up so a harness wasn't necessary. I can see how a parent would want to use a harness although I personally dislike the sight of seeing a child in/on one.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I can't stand them, but neither of my kids are runners. I might have considered it, but it would have been with great reluctance. Children need to be taught to listen to their parents. I would say (again from my vantage point of having raised two listeners) that only the most severe cases ought to be resolved with a leash.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 1, 2008 7:39 AM | Report abuse

My little guy is still too young for this, but if he shows "runner" tendancies, I will use one. Like the earlier poster said, I would rather use a leash then bury my son.

Regarding "listeners," my SIL has three boys. The oldest and the youngest always listened to her and stayed close when she told them, but the middle child was very independent and would try to take off on his own. He was a very, very curious child and has grown up to be a very, very intelligent young man. After loosing him in a store, and the resulting panic, she began to use a similar device with him for safety. She used it until he was old enough to better understand the danger of wandering off. So, sometimes, it may not matter that the parent is a great parent or works hard to instill discipline in the kids, some kids are still going to run.

Posted by: VaLGaL | July 1, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Holy cow, I cannot believe anyone uses these leashes. What's next? Putting the kid's food in metal dishes on the floor? Do the leashes have matching collars so I can have my child's name & ICE info attached? Give me a freaking break! If your child cannot understand that it is dangerous to run away from you, perhaps you shouldn't be taking your child out in public..

Posted by: Just call him Spot | July 1, 2008 7:52 AM | Report abuse

"they were always amenable to being picked up so a harness wasn't necessary."

I don't have kids but it seems to me that if you are shopping or have something to carry it might be tough to carry a kid - esp as they get older.

Posted by: No kids | July 1, 2008 7:53 AM | Report abuse

funny article given yesterday's topic, as i said, darwinism at work:


ATLANTA - The Supreme Court's landmark ruling on gun ownership last week focused on citizens' ability to defend themselves from intruders in their homes. But research shows that surprisingly often, gun owners use the weapons on themselves.

Suicides accounted for 55 percent of the nation's nearly 31,000 firearm deaths in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There was nothing unique about that year - gun-related suicides have outnumbered firearm homicides and accidents for 20 of the last 25 years. In 2005, homicides accounted for 40 percent of gun deaths. Accidents accounted for 3 percent. The remaining 2 percent included legal killings, such as when police do the shooting, and cases that involve undetermined intent.

Public-health researchers have concluded that in homes where guns are present, the likelihood that someone in the home will die from suicide or homicide is much greater.

Studies have also shown that homes in which a suicide occurred were three to five times more likely to have a gun present than households that did not experience a suicide, even after accounting for other risk factors.

In a 5-4 decision, the high court on Thursday struck down a handgun ban enacted in the District of Columbia in 1976 and rejected requirements that firearms have trigger locks or be kept disassembled. The ruling left intact the district's licensing restrictions for gun owners.

One public-health study found that suicide and homicide rates in the district dropped after the ban was adopted. The district has allowed shotguns and rifles to be kept in homes if they are registered, kept unloaded and taken apart or equipped with trigger locks.

The American Public Health Association, the American Association of Suicidology and two other groups filed a legal brief supporting the district's ban. The brief challenged arguments that if a gun is not available, suicidal people will just kill themselves using other means.

More than 90 percent of suicide attempts using guns are successful, while the success rate for jumping from high places was 34 percent. The success rate for drug overdose was 2 percent, the brief said, citing studies.

"Other methods are not as lethal," said Jon Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore.

The high court's majority opinion made no mention of suicide. But in a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer used the word 14 times in voicing concern about the impact of striking down the handgun ban.

"If a resident has a handgun in the home that he can use for self-defense, then he has a handgun in the home that he can use to commit suicide or engage in acts of domestic violence," Breyer wrote.

Researchers in other fields have raised questions about the public-health findings on guns.

Gary Kleck, a researcher at Florida State University's College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, estimates there are more than 1 million incidents each year in which firearms are used to prevent an actual or threatened criminal attack.

Public-health experts have said the telephone survey methodology Kleck used likely resulted in an overestimate.

Both sides agree there has been a significant decline in the last decade in public-health research into gun violence.

The CDC traditionally was a primary funder of research on guns and gun-related injuries, allocating more than $2.1 million a year to such projects in the mid-1990s.

But the agency cut back research on the subject after Congress in 1996 ordered that none of the CDC's appropriations be used to promote gun control.

Vernick said the Supreme Court decision underscores the need for further study into what will happen to suicide and homicide rates in the district when the handgun ban is lifted.

Today, the CDC budgets less than $900,000 for firearm-related projects, and most of it is spent to track statistics. The agency no longer funds gun-related policy analysis.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

I used one once, when my oldest was 20 months old. We took a train to my parents house. From DC to NYC on Amtrack, it wasn't necessary, but then with rolling luggage, and a car seat, I used the tether when we arrived at Penn Station, and had to get to Grand Central Station to take Metro north the rest of the way. I was not about to lose my child to people or moving equipment.

Posted by: pamsdds | July 1, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

VaLGaL

"So, sometimes, it may not matter that the parent is a great parent or works hard to instill discipline in the kids, some kids are still going to run. "

Some seniors also are going to "run". Would you put leashes on them?

Posted by: Curly | July 1, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

My 3.5 year old son is a runner & a climber and on occasions, a listener. I have not gotten a harness for him yet, but I might get him one (to keep him safe) while I teach him to listen.

It is unrealistic to "not go out in public" with him as one ignorant commenter says. However, I have limited his activities (i.e. no amusement parks).

My pediatrician actually recommended a harness for my son.

Posted by: Mother of a runner | July 1, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Ours isn't walking yet, but I have no qualms about putting a leash on him. What's worse, having someone whose opinion you don't care about thinking, "Hey, that kid's on a leash; tsk, tsk," or having your child get away from you and running into the street or disappearing in a crowd?

If anyone says anything, I'll smile and nod, then continue to think the same thing I've thought since my wife was pregnant and it started: Keep your da** opinion to yourself, I don't care.

It's amazing how many people think it's perfectly fine to say whatever comes to their minds...and it only happens when someone is pregnant and later. When we were just a couple, no one said much about anything we chose to do. Now that we have a kid, everybody and their brother simply refuses to keep their traps shut. Anyway, I digress; sorry. It's just tiring to have so many people think they know what's best...and none of them 'know' the same thing. Consider my eyes virtually rolled.

Posted by: J | July 1, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

I was very against them for a long time. However, my second child is completely different from the first. she's a runner, AND has mastered the art of passive resistance. That is, if she doesn't want to hold your hand, she will go completely limp (in the middle of the street if need be). She also escapes the stroller, and will kick and wiggle her way out of arms (she's big enough now that can be a problem).

Yes we discipline, but there are some situations where you need more control and the harness works. She likes the monkey, and it helps with a sticky safety problem. I now understand the necessity and appreciate the availability.

You never know until you have an escape artist of your own--I'm learning much better not to judge other parents, even silently!

Posted by: HM | July 1, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Would it surprise people to know these have been around for over 60 years? My grandmother used one with my uncle when he was a toddler (in the 40s). They lived in downtown Baltimore and he was a runner.

She later mailed leashes to my mom when my brother and I were at that stage. We were only 15 months apart, so I imagine it was hell. Apparently our favorite game was to get to a busy train station and run in opposite directions.

So here I am, a product of being leashed. And I have a job, kids, house, etc. And now I have two preschoolers to keep track of. But so far, no leashes.......

Posted by: Arlington, VA | July 1, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Never used one, but I don't want to say I never will. I have a 23 month old sometime runner, and while it is a pain, we will carry him if he won't hold hands.

I would suggest that if you are traveling, and between you and your spouse you do not have enough hands to hold a child's hand, you have too much carry on luggage.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 8:13 AM | Report abuse

I am very thankful that I never had to put a leash or harness on either one of my children. While I do think it looks barbaric I can certainly understand why it could be necessary for some of the more unruly children and would not criticize any parent who used one in the interest of safety.

Posted by: Donna | July 1, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Count me as a no leash person. We had runners, particularly in that terrible two stages. However, they knew the reprecussions early on if they ran. I don't "believe" in spanking, but like Rosemond, sometimes a spanking is warranted. Or the threat of a spanking. Who is in charge? Me. The parent. I don't need a leash to be in charge.

Posted by: no leash, bad leash | July 1, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Some seniors also are going to "run". Would you put leashes on them?


Posted by: Curly | July 1, 2008 8:05 AM

**********

Well, most of the seniors that I know move pretty slowly, so they are unlikely to "run" out into traffic and get hit by a bus, so this really is not a similar issue. But, if it was necessary to keep a senior, say with dementia, from wandering off and hurting him or herself, then I would not be opposed to such a use. Many folks meeting this description are in fact restrained in some way, and at least the leash or tether or whatever would allow them to get out and about rather than being tied to a bed or locked in a small room at a nursing home.

Posted by: VaLGaL | July 1, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm almost 30 and my mother definitely used a leash on us when we were kids. She had 3 children within 4 years of each other- what else was she supposed to do? She only had 2 hands. My younger sister was a wanderer and I can't always say that my older sister and I were 100% perfectly behaved to save her having to divide her attention between all 3 of us. We're all perfectly well adjusted adults. My older sister uses them on her children (3 of them all under 5) when she chances to take them to a crowded venue (kite day on the mall, renaissance fair, busy day of errands, etc.) They're better behaved and less stressed because of it. I don't know why people think this is akin to treating a child like an animal. No one is suggesting that "dishes be put on the floor" or any other inane and incredible leaps of "logic". Are the same people equally against the ropes with handles used to keep the daycare children in line on walks to the park? Should we just let children too young to really understand the danger just wander freely into traffic and crowds so that we don't push our own insecurities on to them? By the way neither myself nor my sisters ever thought it was weird to wear a harness when we were 3, and my nieces and nephews don't see anything strange about it either. They like it because they have their hands free to hold their toys, play with stuff they find, etc.

Posted by: NB | July 1, 2008 8:28 AM | Report abuse

no leash, bad leash

"I don't "believe" in spanking, but like Rosemond, sometimes a spanking is warranted. Or the threat of a spanking. Who is in charge? Me. The parent. "

Who or what is Rosemond?

Posted by: Confused | July 1, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

We use one that has a retractable leash of about five feet, when we are at large events like a parade. We hold our little guy's hand but he breaks loose sometimes. The kid would be in a stroller otherwise which, when you think about it, would be objectionable if you weren't used to it "Why are those people strapping their child into a little wagon and he can't walk anywhere?". And if you think that you can get all young toddlers to hold hands constantly, never run, never make a break for it, always listen, you're living in a fantasy world.

Posted by: Reality intrudes | July 1, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

My child is a serious runner, and I would never dream of putting her on a leash. I always remember the episode of the Simpsons with the baby translator. The kid on the leash's garbled sentence translated as, "This leash demeans us both." To me, using a leash really represents an abdication of your responsibility to teach your child how to behave in public. And when I saw parents using them recently in the Natural History Museum, one of the children was very nearly choked by the leash as her mother dragged her through the museum and she tried to change directions.

Besides, knowing my daughter, she would do exactly what her daddy did when his mom put one on him decades ago: lie down and practice passive resistance. It's a total hassle to be out with her sometimes. I ALWAYS have to wear shoes I can run in and be extremely vigilant, as she's also a climber and is utterly fearless. But I use our time together as teaching opportunities about the dangers of cars, crowds, unleashed dogs, bodies of water, and so forth. Handholding is not optional, even when she would prefer not to do it, if we're in a place where being a few steps behind her could endanger her safety. And when I can let her be a bit more free, I turn her loose and stay close.

Posted by: restonmom | July 1, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I don't have kids yet, but when I was like (back in the early 80s) my mom used one. They weren't cute animals yet, it was a yellow harness leash that looked like a dog leash. But we were in the foreign service and she was constantly in international airports by herself (my father would get sent earlier), a toddler, and a large amount of luggage.

It is amusing to look back at the pictures and see myself perched on top on a huge suitcase with a little yellow harness on. As far as I can tell, it didn't mess me up in any way however I'm sure it gave my mom peace of mind.

In my opinion, I think having a non hysterical/stressed parent is much more important to the kids' psyche then whether or not he/she is wearing a leash.

Posted by: kim | July 1, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Definitely preferable to keeping a child in a stroller until they're 6 or 7 and perfectly capable of walking. Gee, how did we get to be such an obese country...?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

*sigh*

When I was *little*

I really am not illiterate.

Posted by: kim | July 1, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I was never a big fan of leashes, but we bought one when my girl was 18 mos. old and we wanted to go to the State Fair (this was out west, where it's literally wall to wall people, and hard even for two adults to navigate through together). She was active enough to want to run around (and, like someone else mentioned, do the passive flop if she couldn't)), but too young to understand consequences. Turns out we never used it -- she was so intimidated by the huge mass of people that she wanted to be held the whole time. But I'd still rather use a leash than lose my daughter -- or spend the day chasing and yelling and threatening her to get her to "behave" when she's just too young to understand or hold still.

Posted by: Laura | July 1, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

It never ceases to amaze me how eager people are to parent others' children. I am a father of two year-old triplets. My wife and I take them out in public. We use leashes. They are a necessity, as we are outnumbered. If this practice bothers you--well...get over it.

Posted by: Father of Trips | July 1, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I notice a lot of the "no leash" people seem to have only one child. How would your little runner fare if you had 2 to chase (and not always in the same direction, I promise you). Its not about behavior in public because I see plenty of free running children with parents chasing them saying "no no no". I'm sure they're using it as a "teaching moment" but their little darlings have still managed to cut off/trip up several of those in their path.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

My dog is under better voice command than a lot of toddlers I've seen (note, I did not say all). Yet, if I am in public, I need to leash my dog. Your toddler can run all over the place, run into me and cause my coffee to spill? And, as someone whose kids are grown, I'd much prefer if everyone let their children walk on leashes. If you go to any event in DC these days, those giant monstrosities of strollers are always taking up room and bumping into people.

Posted by: Speaking of the dog reference | July 1, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Is this really a new thing? I remember my mother using a leash on my brother. He was a runner. I remember one time when he got lost while we were vacationing. My parents were frantic and finally found him walking with 2 men down the street. Supposedly, they were looking for his parents but that is not the image I remember. They were calmly walking down the street as if he was their child.

I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to use a leash if it meant keeping a child safe with that memory in my memory banks. Luckily, neither of my step-children are runners. SS won't hold your hand but he always walks beside you which is perfectly acceptable to me.

Posted by: Billie | July 1, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I have two kids, the first was a runner, the second, not so much. Depends on the kid. Though it seems like you are treating your child like a dog, it really is an attempt to give them a little bit of freedom without endangering them.

When I put the leash on my daughter, I was sure to keep up with her so she didn't feel the "tug" of me pulling her back and I didn't depend totally on it. I would ask her to hold my hand anyway when crossing the street or nearing crowds, so she could learn how to behave without the leash. I also explained to her each time WHY I was putting it on her (so you don't get lost or hurt).

One day, the reasoning finally sunk into her little brain. She would automatically grab my hand when we came near a street or a big crowd. It was then that I stopped using it. I used it like, once with my second daughter, who never was one for running off. Depends on the kid. Better to use the leash than to confine your kid all the time in a stroller or just staying home.

Posted by: Kay | July 1, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

As a 63 yr. old grandmother with grandchildren 18 to 3, I must admit my feelings have changed over the years. For my own children? No way! Even after my 3 yr. old son escaped from a ladies room stall out into the department store, where we had to call the police to find him. Things have changed so much since then. I would NOT HESITATE in this day and age to use a harness to keep my children safe. Besides, it allows them a small bit of freedon (to feel like big guys), but with the parents' security of knowing that they are safe.
And if I get to a point where I run, could I please, please have a dog harness?

Posted by: Lisa | July 1, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I had one of those leashes when I was small. We lived overseas, and the leash was implemented after I apparently tried to board a flight to what my mother described as "red China". So I guess the leash averted a diplomatic incident. I do remember how much fun it was to really pull on that thing when you wanted to go a different way from what mom and dad wanted.

Posted by: Child Free in Alexandria | July 1, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Of course my little precious has a cute little Panda bear harness. Although we rarely venture into public, my precious loves "Pandy" and will wear it around the house.

My little precious is 3 yr old for those who asked yesterday.

Posted by: Cecilia | July 1, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

"I am fortunate that my two kids have never made a brake for it.

Spelling Police!
Posted by: Hall monitor | July 1, 2008 7:26 AM
-----------------
Hall Monitor,

You're missing the closing quotation mark.

Punctuation Police!

Posted by: Aspen | July 1, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Wow- I have 2 little boys and they are both curious and run faster than I do. And I haven't ever even thought about using a "leash." I have a few other tricks- for example, I get them to hold hands with each other, which slows them down quite a bit (and is more fun than holding my hand.) Plus it makes a really cute photo. Or I tell the older one to "supervise" the younger one, which he takes very seriously. And I've got a no-nonsense STOP yell when all else fails.

Posted by: acorn | July 1, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I haven't needed a leash with my children, but I used one with a two year old in a day care center in which I was working in the late 80's. She was very fearful and wanted to hold my hand all the time. We finally worked our way up to her just being next to me at all times, but if I had to walk away, she would cry (and then come join me). Finally I thought to put the leash on her and on me. When she was connected to me by the leash, she just followed along after me without crying.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Hard to believe how smug people are.

My younger daughter has the monkey and loves her monkey backpack. I use it regularly. She loves to run, hates to be in the stroller and is only just two so doesn't always have the self-control not to run in the wrong direction (street, into crowds, etc.). It's safer than letting her loose, makes both of us happier than the stroller, and makes both of us happier than my holding her constantly. Not that I could hold her - she's 30 lbs and I have a bad back. And how could I possibly hold her while helping my kindergartener tie her shoes?

Oh, and it's much safer than holding her hand. It doesn't dislocate her shoulder if I have to hold tight. And doesn't throw out my back from leaning over awkwardly. And much harder for her to squirm out of than a handhold.

Posted by: inBoston | July 1, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

We had a harness for our dog that - I'm not joking - fits our 3 year old son perfectly. I do use it with the dog's old leash to walk us* to get the mail, 1/4 mile away and on the other side of a busy two-way street. My son does listen, but sometimes if he's taking off, even me yelling "no! stop!" is unheard. There is enough leash to allow him to move at his own pace and to keep him close when I need him to be, such as when we need to cross that busy road.

*For what it's worth, "us" is me (the mommy) with my 4-week old baby in a sling or a carrier strapped to my body, pushing my 22-month daughter in a stroller, and my 3 year old son. I don't have a free hand for him to hold, and the harness/leash combo has been a nice option to get all of outside, with a bit of safety thrown in.

Am I nuts? Maybe, but I don't give a cr*p what anyone thinks if I feel that it keeps my kids out of harm's way. My kids, my way. Deal.

Posted by: Luke, our dog | July 1, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Weird. I always assumed that the kids tethered on leashes were retarded.

Posted by: I stand corrected | July 1, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

And I've got a no-nonsense STOP yell when all else fails.

Posted by: acorn | July 1, 2008 9:00 AM

*********

I just hope that the one time that your "yell" doesn't work is not when your kid is running into the path of a car...

Posted by: not worth the worry | July 1, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Weird. I always assumed that the kids tethered on leashes were retarded.

Posted by: I stand corrected | July 1, 2008 9:07 AM

======================================

Not so many as post comments like this on parenting boards...

Posted by: Father of Trips | July 1, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, I really liked to have my hands free while I was a child. My mom used a wrist leash with me, so that I couldn't wander off, but wasn't getting my arm pulled off.

I think it's a question of how the parent uses the leash - are they dragging the kid around, or does it provide the kid freedom of movement and the parent peace of mind?

Posted by: GM123 | July 1, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

How about this...you teach your children that going out is a privilege and appropriate behavior includes holding mommy's or daddy's hand or always being right where we can see you? If they can't abide by these rules they either ride in the stroller (if young enough) or we stay home.

Seriously, we have five kids, three boys and two girls, all of whom were very active growing up and never once thought about putting a leash on any of them.

Posted by: Mike Sorce | July 1, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

The law states that I have to put a leash on my dog, even though she behaves better without it. As was mentioned before, we strap the kids into strollers without even thinking about it. That said, keep in mind that we have an obesity problem in this country. The sooner you can get a kid moving independently, the better. Additionally, this time spent walking/running is going to allow the kid to become more agile.

My niece has a monkey leash. I laughed at first, but I saw photos of her not strapped into a stroller and immediately got it. She was at a parade and was able to explore at 20 mos. old. I happen to know that she was at Sesame Place last week, so she may beone of the kids you speak of.

Posted by: Mz Fitz | July 1, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I was ne'er worried bout my younin' runnin' off. I could always see the tail of there racoon caps that theys be a wearing!

Posted by: Jed Clampett | July 1, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I had a three year old and one year old twins. I used leashes in places where running could be dangerous: like on a dock, at street fairs, on busy streets. Most comments were "boy, you really have your hands full". No one ever said anything negative, and I never felt bad about it. Once when my daughter was three and holding my husbands hand she twisted her hand from his grip and ran straight for the high traffic road. Only our frightened screams stopped her. That was eleven years ago and I still have nightmares about it. So yes, I would leash again.

Posted by: Gahtah | July 1, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

My kid was very well behaved. Never wandered when asked to stay close. I thought I was the perfect mother with such a well behaved child. He was just 2 and we were walking, on a sidewalk and holding hands and he saw the most adorable puppy ahead. He rushed forward and his hand slipped out of mine just as we approached an exit from an underground garage. The exiting car screeched to a halt, bumped my child to the ground...no terrible wounds to himjust some bad scrapes on concrete and of course my heart and soul seared. Seventeen years later I still tear up. His little sister was ALWAYS on a leash because she didn't like how hard I held her hand.

Posted by: samclare | July 1, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

NB - what else was she supposed to do? My mother's 3 children are within 3 years and she never needed to use them, so I don't think you should act like there is no other choice. She took us to public places all the time too and at most, only 1 could ever have been in a stroller, because we only had 1 small one. I guess she just taught us to listen and stay with her. And no, its not because some kids are naturally more well behaved than others because my brother gave her a lot more problems as a child than most do! I guess she just wasn;t goint to take the lazy way out.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Although I don't have children of my own, I used to be on one of those wrist leashes as a child. I was a horrible runner and thought it was funny (literally laughed) as I ran out in the street where my mother couldn't catch me as she was heavily pregnant. If I have a child who is a runner you're shards sure I'll be using whatever means necessary to keep them safe. And even without children I know it's unreasonable to just say just don't take them anywhere until they learn to cooperate. How else are they going to learn and if they aren't cognitively capable of learning immediately life sure can't stop until they do learn.

Posted by: Oblivion | July 1, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

My mother used a leash for my sister on occasion in big crowds, because she was not only a runner, but deaf, so telling her to stop or calling her name if she took off was pretty useless. There were some nasty comments, but they were pretty easily shrugged off.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I find using a stroller to be far lazier for both parent and child than allowing 3 children, who are capable of it, to walk on their own and learn to stay close. The leashes are largely a back up for when a child pulls away. Of course she had other choices but she chose to take us out to experience things and get some exercise and I am grateful for it. For you to act like your mother's choice was superior is beyond insulting. For the record- we were well behaved most of the time (as much as you can expect from children under 5), were taught to listen, rarely ran to the point that the harness was taut because we were told to stay close and had to listen. My mother grew up the oldest of a huge family of children and learned to wrangle children probably far earlier than most other parents - I think she made a wise and safe choice for all of us. We never suffered for using them and while I respect your opinion that you don't like the use of a tether- I would expect you to respect those who choose to use them. God forbid, you ever find that your "industrious" diatribe against those "lazy" enough to use a leash doesn't result in the loss or injury of one of your children. Then again I suppose you'll have your principles to console you.

Posted by: NB | July 1, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Men DO Remember Anniversaries

A woman awakes during the night to find that her husband was not in their bed. She puts on her robe and goes downstairs to look for him and finds him sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee in front of him. He appears to be in deep thought, just staring at the wall.

She watches as he wiped a tear from his eye and takes a sip of his coffee. 'What's the matter, dear?' she whispers as she steps into the room. 'Why are you down here at this time of night?'

The husband looks up from is coffee, 'Do you remember 20 years ago when we were dating, and you were only 16?', he asks solemnly.

The wife is touched to tears thinking that her husband is so caring and sensitive. 'Yes, I do,' she replies.

The husband paused. The words were not coming easily. 'Do you remember when your father caught us in the back seat of my car making love?'

'Yes, I remember,' said his wife, lowering herself into a chair beside him.

The husband continued. 'Do you remember when he shoved the shotgun in my face and said, 'Either you marry my daughter, or I will send you to jail for 20 years?'

'I remember that, too,' she replied softly.

He wiped another tear from his cheek and said, 'I would have gotten out today.'

Posted by: A joke for you! | July 1, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

This one is easy: leashes are awful.

If you are incapable of taking care of your children without putting them on leashes, please don't have children.

What's next -- invisible fences for kids who get an electric shock if they stray a bit too far from the house?

Posted by: Steve Bennett | July 1, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Ha! Harness... another bs word substituted for something so that yuppie parents will purchase an item they wouldn't be comfortable buying if you called it what it is - a leash! Next thing you know someone is going to start selling something like, say, "outer armour" that will let over-protective yuppie parents shield their kids from scrapes, bug bites, and critisism. It will have cool customizable designs and will be an anti-bacterial overpriced upgrade of what the rest of us call bubble wrap.

Posted by: Rosslyn | July 1, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

If you can't take care of them, don't have them. Is thy child a dog that you would do this thing?

What in the world? These are the same freaks who would microchip their kids and track them on a GPS if they could -- and that day's not far off.

How about teaching your children to respect you since you are their parent? What happened to good old fashioned discipline?

Posted by: wtf | July 1, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"Mother of the Year" Joan Crawford harnessed her adopted son inside his crib....

Posted by: Movie buff | July 1, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I think Donna's husband might have an extra leash you could borrow. Donna, how long's your leash?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

So, let me summarize.

"I do what works best for my family, and you should do what works best for your family. Cool."

"I may or may not have children, but I know best, and anyone who disagrees with me is stupid, fat, and lazy."

Does that about sum it up?

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

What would Freud say??

Posted by: Niles | July 1, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I was behind a father at Metro last night who had an independent young daughter and rambunctious "I can do it myself" toddler son in tow. The toddler son was on the verge of throwing full-blown fits everytime the father tried to touch him and so the father was allowing him to go off by himself on the escalators. Needless to say, I had my cell phone ready to call the ambulance as soon as the child's foot, hands or whatever got mangled by the sharp edges of the escalator steps' teeth. I would have really enjoyed seeing a tail in that father's hand for the sake of both daddy adn son. It's a safety issue. That's all. Kids at Metro and in urban areas really could use a little extra 'stay near me.'

Posted by: Bettebloo | July 1, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I think of kid leashes as insurance -- some people will want to buy/use them, some people will not. Some people will have peace of mind while using them; others will criticize leashes as a waste of money or a bad parenting choice. It clearly depends upon the parents and especially the child(ren).

I have 2 kids 14 months apart. I haven't really feared for older girl's safety as she is a good listener and cautious by nature. Younger boy (almost 2) is generally happy and very independent, but sometimes rather defiant and not a good listener yet (walks off of playground equipment, etc.) -- and he seems not to feel pain (cuts and bruises don't seem to slow him down in the slightest). I would prefer that his first experience with real pain not be that he gets hit by a car, so I'm considering getting one for the few times we're walking by a busy street or in a big crowd and I'm outnumbered by the kids.

Why do we put babies in cribs? Why do we use safety gates? Why do we keep seniors with dementia from wandering the streets? Safety first. Leashes provide an option to those parents/caretakers that want to have that added sense of security while allowing their kids some independence.

Posted by: JD | July 1, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I never used a leash on Organic Kid, and used to cringe whenever I saw a child with one. I would wonder what was wrong that folks need to treat their children like this.

Then I visited my sister and her 20-month old son. Who is a wonderful, sunny, active boy. He loves to run, climb, swing, jump, you name it. He's everywhere and into everything. I love him for his energy. Then my sister got out the harness when we went for a walk. I cringed. She said just wait. We were walking about a half mile to a local coffee shop, would get something to drink, and walk back. During the walk, mostly on walking trails through a suburban park, she did not attach the leash. When we had to cross a street to our final destination, she snapped it on, kept it on in the coffee shop, and back across the street. Once we were back in the park, she took it off. And I finally got it. I never had to worry about Organic Kid in traffic, or bumping someone holding hot coffee. But my nephew easily could have dashed in front of a car or caromed of any number of patrons of the coffee shop. I got a valuable lesson in not judging any other parent's decisions, and understanding the need for the leash. And I no longer cringe or roll my eyes when I see them.

Posted by: OrganicGal | July 1, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I don't have children and I don't think I ever will, but why on earth does anyone care whether or not some parents feel that using a leash/harness/backpack with a tail is anyone's business but their own? I grew up in a close knit family and my cousins were like my younger siblings. I helped watched them all the time. Some listened but others chronically disobeyed. Why not use one of these to ensure that you have complete, 100%, control of your child, especially in situations where a 1% misstep could result in a catastropic ending? I've read the comments and I can't find any solid reasoning to the objectors' opinions. They only state "I can't believe parents do that" or "what's next...". Who cares what's next? That's not the point. The point is that some parents are doing all they can to ensure that their children are safe. That is good enough for me.

Posted by: Dont Want To Put A Name | July 1, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

This one sure seems a matter of taste. To my taste, leashes are for dogs ~ and for those people who choose them for their children. Packaging the thing to look cute and cuddly doesn't change the fact that it is a convenience item not a teaching tool. Of course it is hard to keep track of them when they are two. Of course it is hard to keep track of them in crowded situations. If you take the easy way out, then you take the easy way out. It's alright. It's not the end of the world. It just is what it is.

Posted by: J | July 1, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Rosslyn, I have a 20 month old and I'd consider a harness. He moves fast and when we are in stores, likes to grab stuff off shelves. We keep him in the stroller as long as we can but after a while he gets antsy and it's either take him out or listen to it for the rest of the shopping trip. I'm 40 and luckily can handle him ok but my wife sometimes has trouble. And we're considering another, which doubles the fun. So consider things from the perspective of a person like me. Slightly off topic: saw an episode of a crime show - "Medium" - where a 4 year old was lured away from a father in a toy store. Had nightmares for a few nights. It only takes one time....

Posted by: Bob | July 1, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Considering, that a leash is actually LESS restrictive than hand holding- I'm confused by your logic.

Posted by: to wtf | July 1, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Never underestimate the stupidity of the American consumer.

Posted by: What else is new? | July 1, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I had one child who was pretty good in crowds and I have a little one who is terrible in crowds. We used the leash sparingly on the one, the second one we can barely let out of his stroller. All kids are different and all react to the same basic parenting differently. I told the older one to hold my hand and he would d so quietly or would try to wrestle away, the younger one will successfully wrestle away most times.

Posted by: Neener | July 1, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with leashes; it's all about the way they're used. If, like the father of triplets, you're outnumbered, it seems like a reasonable solution.

I only have one child, and when we go to amusement parks or other crowded places, we go as a family (2 adults, 1 child). Between my and my husband's vigilance, I've never had to use a leash with my three-year-old daughter. Also, my daughter and I walk home together everyday from preschool, so she knows how to walk with me and cross the street safely. She's been carried home - kicking and screaming - a few times because she didn't want to hold hands. Now she holds hands, and makes sure we both look both ways before we cross the street. Kids learn quickly, especially if they know there are consequences.

Having said all that, I would never judge a parent for using a harness. Parenting is difficult enough; you do what you need to do to keep your kids safe.

Posted by: To each his own | July 1, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I have used a leash/harness/whatever for several years...when you're outnumbered, it's helpful to keep kids close by and safe. My DH works weekends, so family outings fall on me. If I want to take the kids to a Terps game or a festival or whatever, I have the baby in the Baby Bjorn, the 7 year old holding one hand, the 3 year old holding my other hand and the 5 year old 'runner' on a harness that's looped on my wrist. I'm sure that I'm a sight to behold. It works for us. I know when I was younger, I was appalled by leashes, but boy has time changed my views on many things!

Posted by: 2girls2boys | July 1, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Here's a history lesson. In the 1940's, early 1950's, before seat belts even, it was not uncommon to see children with a harness on. The practice began in Europe and was the very "in" thing for young parents, mostly mothers, to protect their children from darting out into the street.

Remember, everything old is new again.

Posted by: GRANNY | July 1, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I had a long rant about delusional parents who think that any child who might be a runner is just the victim of poor discipline and bad parenting. Had to delete it because I lost it.

My first was clingy and reasonably content to hold hands. Even then, when my Mom would take her out, she had a wrist strap after one occasion of her disappearing in a store. My second was one of those runners. His attitude from the time he could crawl (he ran at 10 months) was 'Don't bother, I'll get/do it myself'. He was big, strong, and single minded. Holding him was an exercise in futility if her wanted down. We learned later that he has severe ADHD, and listening was not in his behavior set. He had one of those harnesses (1980's) because he could rip that velcro wrist strap right off. In time, 4-5 ish maybe?, we could leave it off, but threaten him with it when he tried to not listen. This worked. Children learn at different rates, and I was thrilled to have him live long enough to learn.

Posted by: BowieMom | July 1, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm stunned at the antipathy towards leashes. I and my siblings wore a harness when we were little (it was a cute one with a blue bunny on it), and we turned out perfectly normal. My parents didn't have a car and my mother could only push one stroller (there were no strollers for more than one child back then), so we had to walk. DD also has one (a doggy backpack) and actually likes wearing it - we use it mainly when we're in crowded places. It's not cruel - we use it for her safety. What I consider to be cruel is 6 or 7 year olds wedged into strollers, whilst usually eating snacks, and denied the chance to walk. Setting them up for obesity is cruel, not wearing a harness for their safety.

Posted by: DopeyMummy | July 1, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I have a kid, and they are surprisingly like dogs at times. This may be one technique that can be used equally well on kids and dogs. Step 1: Wear. them. out. Let them get the ya-yas out. They have to move. They are full of energy. Step 2: Take them out for errands, etc. They are much more likely to be cooperative when they've been allowed to just go nuts. And they're less likely to pull on the leash. ;)

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

We used actual rock climbing harnesses on the kids (ages 2-5) when ever doing overlook trails or steep rock stairs on the trail. The kids thought it was fun to rock climb four foot boulders while we supported them if they fell. There was a two year old that fell and died at Chimney Rock Park.

Posted by: mtngirl | July 1, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

When she was little, our leashless daughter escaped a series of near misses in traffic and we dealt with many lost child searches in the malls. I am proud to say that we survived her childhood without it. However, now that she's 16, we use it all the time.

Posted by: bigdaddy | July 1, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

It is obviously a personal decision and nobody else's business whether or not one chooses to use a "leash" on their child/children. We had twins and shortly after a singleton. We used a double leash for the twins and single one for the singleton. The leashes were wonderful when traveling in crowded airports and whilst on our daily walks. Even two parents have only two hands each and it usually takes two hands for each toddler, so you do the math. When alone with the three toddlers, the leashes were indispensable. For us they worked very well and were a way to ensure each child's safety. We did not let the sometimes very rude stares bother us because after all, we were the parents and knew how much safer our children were when they were literally connected to us. I suggest that critics and the busbody whiners find another hobby and concern themselves with their own lives!

Posted by: Connie | July 1, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

atb wrote:
Step 2: Take them out for errands, etc. They are much more likely to be cooperative when they've been allowed to just go nuts. And they're less likely to pull on the leash. ;)

I hope your errands don't include any stores, cleaners, post office, because those are not the places for your kids to go nuts. Keep them home or on a leash please.

Posted by: Keep them home | July 1, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

When I was growing up in the early eighties, we kids used to put the canoe in the large creek in our back yard and would paddle upstream for miles, often without life jackets, and would disappear for hours, fishing and swimming all along the way, completely out of touch with our parents. We also used to ride our bikes all around the neighborhood (gasp!) without helmets!

If one of us started to wander off in public where we shouldn't be going all it took was a stern warning from our dad or granddad and that was the end of that - if you couldn't obey then you would be taken taken back home.

I don't know where this overprotectiveness trend started, but I'm sure glad I was spared when I was young. I can't help but wonder if this grating sense of entitlement that many young people have in their 20s or younger is a product of their being shielded and hand-fed, and not given the kind of responsibility we were allowed to have growing up.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Step 2 comes after letting them go nuts, hence the "they've been" part of the sentence.

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I never used one on our oldest (the little ones aren't walking yet), but I would have if I'd had to. I used to hold onto the back of her shirt in parking lots just in case she decided to dash- she never did, but I couldn't really take a chance that she would ahve done something stupid when she was first learning to walk. Toddlers are, after all, not terribly bright about such things.


Posted by: va | July 1, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I think these things are super-tacky and would only use one if there were really no other option.

True, I can imagine a combined set of circumstances where I might try it- say, if I had just had surgery AND my son was going through a running phase AND I had to be the only adult with two kids and a bunch of luggage in a crowded airport. But what surprises me is when I see two apparently able-bodied parents with one kid on a leash walking in the park near my house. Who knows what the deal is there- but I'm thinking that I would not treat my kid like a dog merely for my own convenience.

Posted by: Michelle | July 1, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I love the people who feel the need to opine on what other people SHOULD do, esp when the decision either way is a relatively benign one that affects no one else outside the family.
I especially love those who will say if you can't manage your child in public, then don't take him/her out, or you have too much luggage, or you have some other deficiency in their mind. Guess what? I'm not living in a bubble and staying locked up at home so as not to annoy your obvious low threshold for dealing with anything that you don't agree with. And, you don't know the temperment, propensity to escape, etc. of my child and whether a "harness" is needed or wanted.

So, how about you don't harness if you don't want to and I'll do as I please as well? Geez. This much drama over this non-controversial (at least I thought) topic.

Posted by: JS | July 1, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse


Why do people have such impassioned views about this subject?

Have their been studies conducted demonstrating psychological harm done to children who are occasionally harnassed in large crowds?

Other than not liking the way it looks, can any of the naysayers come up with an example of long term harm done if people use these once in a while to keep their children safe?

We are all so quick and gleeful to label something "lazy parenting" in others...what about the fact that your quick and harshly definitive judgement of others sets a bad example for your children? Oh, but of course, life is all black and white, and your way is right not just for you, but for everyone else.

Why, with all of the crazy things that go on in the world does this light a fire under anyone's a$$?

Posted by: Bethesda | July 1, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Oh, JS, clearly you haven't spend much time at BabyCenter.com. EVERYTHING is subject to vitriolic debate.

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

But Connie, it is our business. When overprotective parents raise overprotected kids, the rest of us have to deal with the results their whole adult lives.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I am surprised by the fact that people consider the leashes demeaning because they are also used on dogs. Any honest parent can tell you that prior to a certain age (maybe 2?) children are nowhere near as intelligent as dogs. After all, who would keep a dog it took two and a half years to housebreak? Fortunately, most kids grow out of the no-sense-of-self-preservation phase, but first you have to keep them alive that long.

Posted by: reston, va | July 1, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

WELL SAID, BETHESDA!

Posted by: NB | July 1, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

yes, its a hassle to hold their hands all the time. that is why parenting is a JOB an not a leisure pursuit. if they won't hold your hand then you go home, sit on the stoop until they "can" hold mommy or daddy's hand, end of story. is it really that complicated for you people. using a leash does nothing to teach them self control and the "runner" argument is a red herring for lazy parents, plain and simple.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse


Kids don't belong on a leash. If your child can't be trained not to run, then your child isn't properly supervised OR shouldn't be taken to "dangerous" places. If you can't pay enough attention to your child to avoid "lost in the mall" situations or if they don't listen and will run off, then they should be left at home.

Posted by: SNCinDC | July 1, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I nearly ran over a kid in a parking lot who looked like he was about three. I didn't even see him. My passenger saw him running directly toward my path and saw the mother running behind him and yelled at me to stop. I did and just missed the kid. After I stopped two parents ran up behind the kid and grabbed him. A three-year-old ran from two parents who didn't even have another kid to deal with.

To you folks who use harnesses--good for you. You love your children and want to keep them safe while giving them a little freedom and exercise (which is important since obesity among children has become a health crisis in this country). To those of you who think it's cruel, how will you feel when you have to put out an Amber Alert for your child or bury them because they got away from you in a crowd or parking lot. It only has to happen once. Your child's safety is YOUR responsibility. Be a parent and an adult and get over what other people think.

Posted by: DC Gen Y | July 1, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Gen Y - write again when you have some life experience.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

As much as I can appreciate the sentiment of "I am so glad that I didn't have to wear helmets (and so on) when we were children", I also have to say that as a child, I also didn't have to wear a seat belt and it was acceptable for parents to drive drunk with their children in the car. These days these are considered clearly unsafe but back in the day... not everyone agreed that they were unsafe.

Things have changed, people have realized that certain safeguards/actions save lives. But just like when I was a child and wearing a seatbelt wasn't considered inherently unsafe and now it is... we may very well discover that in 30 or 40 years, people may very well look back and say... wow! I can't believe that parents didn't want to use leashes. Wasn't it obvious that they were endangering their child's life?

I guess what my point is... just because a parent uses a leash or does whatever else someone might think is strange does not necessary make them lazy, overprotective or a nut job. For all we know, they might just be ahead of the curve of what the next generation thinks is the correct thing to do.

A little tolerance goes a long way.

Posted by: Billie | July 1, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

This is cracking me up! That people really believe perfectly happy kids on leashes shouldn't be allowed in public is hilarious. It's clearly VERY offensive to people. Anyone so easily offended is the person who should have to stay home. Lighten up, people. Talk about looking for reasons to get bent out of shape.

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse


I guess the fury some show over this totally mundane and benign topic illustrates a good point about parenting.

No matter what choices you make someone, somewhere, will find a way to object. To be convinced that you are lazy and raising a future criminal. It's too bad that people are like this, but evidently, they are.

So, the best you can do when making parenting decisions is consider current research, your instincts, your history, your child, and make your decision.

You certainly can't parent with a mind to not offending anyone out there because then you'd never do anything, and that might actually screw your kid up, lol!

Seems we could all use some lessons in humility, though.

Posted by: Bethesda | July 1, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

OK DC Gen Y, then why did we never need harnesses growing up? Is there something new in the air over the last 20 years that makes kids want to run for the first time in the history of man? What a ridiculous argument. When I was young, if would have run out into a parking lot I would have gotten a scolding I would never forget and would never do it again. Scolding and shaming are far more powerful than a leash can ever be. A leash doesn't teach a kid why they shouldn't run into the lot - it just physically prevents them until they are 18 and then go running out into the parking lots of society where the rest of us have to deal with it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

There are several kinds of harnesses. The fuzzy animal ones are neat, but we have the same one used at my son's preschool: a colorful wrist harness that slips onto an adult's wrist and straps onto the child's wrist.

The preschool uses harnesses when they go for walks with children who can walk and run, but not control themselves (1-2.5 years old or thereabouts). There are usually 3-4 children per caregiver, so it is not humanly possible to take them for walks without harnesses unless they are strapped into strollers. As several posters have already noted, physical exercise is extremely important but so is safety.

My son, who is now nearly 4, sometimes gets put on a harness when he runs away from his group at school, a distinctly bad idea. He doesn't like the harness, so he is getting better at staying within a reasonable distance of the teachers, and then of us when we are out together.

We have rarely used the wrist harness with our boy, but his elderly grandmother found it VERY useful when she took him on an airplane trip at age 2 1/2. She simply could not chase him down running, and she told him that he had to wear the harness so that she didn't get lost. And whenever he talked to someone that trip, he apparently held up his wrist and said "look, I have a harness to keep Gramma." She didn't get any flack.

Posted by: Lansing, MI | July 1, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

A comment with sexual innuendo was taken down almost immediately but the vulgar comment about children who may be mentally challenged remains posted.

Posted by: Interesting Censorship | July 1, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

What did the old timers do? It's called nursemaid elbow. Look it up. There's really no difference between hand-holding and leashes, except for that pesky dislocation.

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"Scolding and shaming are far more powerful than a leash can ever be."

Great parenting idea - shame your child. That won't leave a mental mark now will it!

Posted by: R U kidding me? | July 1, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the strong revulsion to seeing harnesses is a reaction to the history of those sad and tragic days when adult human beings were chained together.

Posted by: A reason? | July 1, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Make your life easy, put your kid on a leash so you don't need to teach them how to behave or stay next to you.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I used a wrist strap with my son only when we were in larger crowds. I started when he was about 1 year old and by 3 yrs old, we did not need it. It allowed him to walk yet he knew he could not get "lost". Often he would venture out only to "reel" himself back in to us. He chose to stay close when the strap was not on. He grew up to be a happy normal adult.

In other countries, schools use wrist straps to link children together on class outings and people are only outraged when they see children without a tether.

In my opinion, there is nothing worse than parents who let their kids run in crowded places. It is just plain unsafe. I have taken several to airport police to start lost parent searches and have seen too many other kids scared out of their little minds at the airports who have "lost" their parents. The trust these kids loose because their parents do not keep them safe cannot be repaired.

Posted by: Sierra | July 1, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

There is a huge difference between hand-holding and a leash - it's called human contact. Some of my best memories are of holding my parents hand while we went somewhere, not holding the nylon cord that they were holding. How would you feel if next time you went to the store the cashier put your change into a scoop then dumped it in your hand instead of handing it to you? There's something to be said for actual human to human interaction that is lost when you put objects in-between.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I swore that I would never use a harness on my child. Then I had twins...with a disabled husband. If we are going to be someplace crowded, I may put the harness on them but I tuck the tail on top of the backpack. One of my sons insists that he and his twin hold each other's tails. It is pretty funny. The good thing is knowing that I could keep them from harm in just a second by grabbing that tether. Like a previous poster said, I would much rather put my sons in a 'leash' than in a grave.

Posted by: D | July 1, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Get used to your time in jail!

Posted by: Leash the bamas! | July 1, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"A comment with sexual innuendo was taken down almost immediately but the vulgar comment about children who may be mentally challenged remains posted."

Humor will not be tolerated on this blog.

However, we appreciate nasty and vulgar.

Posted by: to interesting censurship | July 1, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

To those who think that harnesses and leases are new - this concept has been around for centuries. They used to be called leading strings. Look it up on Wikipedia - you'll see a picture there.

Ask my kids about the 'lasting effects' They'll tell you that the only one they can think of is that they lived to tell the tale. Modern life is full of distractions, and it only takes a micro-second of inattention -say paying for something - for a child to make his break. I hope none of your children ever suffer for your self righteousness.

Posted by: BowieMom | July 1, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

My parents didn't use a leash on me. They were working class folks in a rural area and didn't know they existed. I got spanked...a lot. I was a handful and a strong-willed kid who did the passive-resistance thing a lot and always wanted to run. My parents had no peace and I was never satisfied. When my brother came along much later they discovered the leash and used it on him and he was happier for it. No spanking, no fighting... everyone was content. He's 20 now and barely remembers the leash--probably because it was such a non-issue, who knows. Spanking works for some kids but not for all. I'm sure my parents would've tried it on me if they had known about it.

Posted by: DC Gen Y | July 1, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Hey R U Kidding Me: Shame is not a bad word. Shame is what keeps most people from doing mean, stupid, or selfish things to other people as adults. You should most definitely be raised to have a sense of shame when you do something wrong - it's what underpins having a sense of morality and self consciousness.

Posted by: PA | July 1, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I, too, thought these were barbaric until my twins were about 18 months old. They would run in opposite directions everytime I opened the door to the minivan. They were too young to understand the danger and it was too hard to fight with both to get picked up, or worse yet force them into a stroller so that they screamed for the duration of our trips anywhere. I bought them so the girls could walk and still be safe. It made leaving the house a lot more pleasant for everyone and after about 3 months, they learned to stay close by and we haven't used them since.

Posted by: Momof5 | July 1, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

To the person who opines leashing toddlers and preschoolers as over-protectiveness and lauds his or her childhood canoeing without parental supervision:

I think that the kind of exploration you describe is excellent. And when my son has the basic skills to do such a thing--which he WILL be encouraged to acquire--then he will be allowed to do such things. However, he will be at least 5 or 6 before he has the basic skills and judgments needed to go play outside in the yard without any adult supervision, and 7 or 8 before he will have the judgment needed to go play away from the house by himself. Why? We live in the city. We will probably always live in the city. When we are at low-traffic areas on summer vacation, his judgment will be ready sooner.

But even the smartest and most independent of kids can't judge traffic, which strangers to trust, current speed or eddies or undertow, at age 4.

Again, I agree that independence should be fostered. But this means teaching the necessary skills until children are trustworthy and then letting them go off on their own.

I grant that a sticking point on this parenting philosophy is whether or not parents who are rightly protective of their poorly-judging toddlers and preschoolers will be able to back off the supervision level as kids become more capable. If they don't, we get the dreaded "helicopter parents" who call college professors to check up on their 19-year old's performance in organic chem or to yell at the prof for failing the student for a "minor" act of plagiarism. That sort of thing clearly is stripping offspring of independence, not encouraging it.

Posted by: lansing, MI | July 1, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

First time i saw a leash used on a kid was back in the 80's and my first thought was how cruel!

well times have changed and i think parents who choose to use them know their children best and are smart to use them!

Posted by: NALL92 | July 1, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Great to see such a vibrant, on topic discussion today. Thanks all.

As always, feel free to e-mail me at parenting@washingtonpost.com if you see any comments that violate the rules.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | July 1, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: | July 1, 2008 10:09 AM :

When I was growing up in the early eighties, we kids used to put the canoe in the large creek in our back yard and would paddle upstream for miles, often without life jackets, and would disappear for hours, fishing and swimming all along the way, completely out of touch with our parents. We also used to ride our bikes all around the neighborhood (gasp!) without helmets!


Despite what most of hysterical posters here write, reasonable people still let their children experience life the way we used to. Our kids are stronger, street smarter, and more resourseful than leashed and coddled. The difference becomes visible at high school level, more pronounced in college, and when it comes to graduating from college and getting a job -- leashed, overly supervized, exposed-to-multiple-scheduled -activities kids are left in the dust. I have 27 y.o., 20 y.o and 8 y.o. (second marriage) kids. Very different, certainly very active and independent, but all ran (and run) as free as possible while being legal.

My kids are not competing with grown-on-the-leash-in-the suburbs wimps, but rather with the best and brightest coming to this country from China and India. Just look at engineering, finance, computer science and health industry.

Posted by: Barely legal | July 1, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"too hard to fight with both to get picked up, or worse yet force them into a stroller so that they screamed for the duration of our trips anywhere."

keywords "too hard" - oh i'm sorry that parenting turned out to be soooo hard. what did you think it would be, a walk in the park? yes, its hard - would you tell your boss that you didn't do something the way she/he asked, because it was "too hard"? don't think so. grow up and parent people.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Um... Barely legal... leashes and such are widely used in those other countries. Its only here, in America, where people are so weird about it, as we are about so many things.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

It's always funny to read the comments on a provacative post like this one. We haven't used a leash with our children but our good friends did with theirs - and I think we're both right.

I'll put it up there with TV, books that talk, homeschooling, co-sleeping, toddler breastfeeding, DVDs in the car and stay at home Moms/Dads. It depends on the parents and child(ren).

Posted by: Josey23 | July 1, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"You should most definitely be raised to have a sense of shame when you do something wrong - it's what underpins having a sense of morality and self consciousness."

Are you honestly saying that a 2 year old who is having fun/playing and runs should feel shame? Wow.

Posted by: R U kidding me? | July 1, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I am a father who keeps my son out of trouble by letting him wear a backpack (which he loves) with a leash attached to it. My wife also uses it. We have discussed it between us, and have agreed it is the thing to do, for many of the reasons mentioned in these posts.

If you don't like it, TOUGH! It's none of your business. I missed the part in child rearing class where it said I'm supposed to go ask some insufferably smug bystander how I am supposed to raise my child.

Posted by: OldTown Dad | July 1, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Barely legal

"Our kids are stronger, street smarter, and more resourseful than leashed and coddled. "

You should learn how to spell before you pat yourself on the back for parenting skills.


"leashed, overly supervized, exposed-to-multiple-scheduled -activities kids are left in the dust"

And so are people who can't spell.

Posted by: Hall monitor | July 1, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Stacy,

You also might consider actually reading the comments and deleting ones aginst the Washpo policy as well as requesting the readers to do so.

As a clue by 4, you may want to look around 9:07 a.m.

Posted by: Interesting Censorship | July 1, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I have two boys -- 3 & 6 -- and I used a "leash" w/my oldest son who was a "bolt-er" (not a word, I know). My youngest son, who is quite independent is also shy, so he would not venture too far. I got a few nasty looks, but they were from the same people who would have shot nasty looks my way if I was trying to hold/restrain a screaming toddler who wanted to get down and walk "by 'self!!" (as my son used to say). As my wonderful mom always tells me "you have to trust yourself as a mother"!! Depending on your child's personality you may have to use a leash, while yes, teaching your child to listen!

Posted by: ca_expat | July 1, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Wow, so much judgment! To the people who are anti-restraint (let's not call it a leash, eh?), I would love to be a fly on the wall in your house when your kid learns the word 'no' or gets to an age where s/he is trying to be independent & refuses to hold hands! Yes, in a perfect world, all children would behave perfectly and would only need to be told once to not run away from mommy or daddy, but let's get real. I know my mom had a harness for at least my brothers - I'm not sure if she ever needed it for me. What's the problem with keeping your child attached to you however you can? Now, if there were actually any parents using the restraint as one would use a leash on a dog, that's one thing entirely, but let's give parents a little credit for not treating their children like animals.

One last word: if you don't like restraints, fine, don't use them, but keep it to yourself. Nobody wants to hear your crap about what a horrible parent you think they are.

Posted by: liz | July 1, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Firstly, let me say that I believe each parent has to decide what is right for them and their kids.

I do see some benefits to using a harness, such as if a parent has a physical ailment of running after a speedy toddler. Safety, in that case, is paramount.

However, I also see some drawbacks to using a harness on kids. Childhood is about learning limits, discipline and understanding consequences to behavior. I would think that using the harness denies kids the ability to begin to learn safe behavior, listening skills, obedience, and self-control. I totally understand that keeping kids safe, especially in crowded arenas with lots of cars, etc can be nerve racking and scary. Most of us (people who grew up before the age of toddler harnesses, so most of human existence) grew up pretty safe and unscathed from walking in amusement parks or on sidewalks without running in front of a tracker trailer and getting mortally wounded.

Is the harness the skittish parents' answer to over-protecting our precious possessions with unreasonable proedures >??

Anyway, they look cute and hey, it's your choice!!

Posted by: Mom of 2 Toddlers | July 1, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

R U Kidding Me: I'm not talking about a 2 year old having well developed sense of right and wrong - use some common sense. When you do something dangerously wrong as a kid, you should be scolded, and it should happen consistently as you grow up, not when the parent feels like it, and not when you hit some magic age when you understand all the reasons. Even a 2 year old knows when they've done something wrong, and you're a fool if you think otherwise.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"Yes, in a perfect world, all children would behave perfectly and would only need to be told once to not run away from mommy or daddy, but let's get real."

no one expects kids to learn the first time, how many times must i say it, it is a job people, you may need to teach them a single lesson many times, that's why its an important job. leashing them teaches them nothing and absolves parents of all responsibility. when exactly will you start teaching them limits?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

OldTown


"If you don't like it, TOUGH! It's none of your business. I missed the part in child rearing class where it said I'm supposed to go ask some insufferably smug bystander how I am supposed to raise my child."

Society pays for parenting mistakes.

Posted by: NewTown | July 1, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

We spend so much money and effort on car seats, making playgrounds safe, BPA-free bottles, etc. it is ridiculous to have a debate about this safety device. It saves lives and also saves costs for when the police are called to search for a missing chile.

Posted by: Len | July 1, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

One more thing: I doubt anyone who advocates using the restraint is advocating using it 24/7 or using it past the age of 4 or so (or whenever they're old enough to get the whole running-in-street-is-bad idea). My niece has one that her parents use when they are walking to town - along a crowded & busy street. She plays in the yard without one. They'll walk down to the park without one. Kids have plenty of time to deal with learning limits & boundaries, but sometimes a stern 'STOP' isn't going to stop the most determined child from running into the middle of the street. Especially if they're at that age where the fun game is 'run away from mommy & daddy'. Using a restraint doesn't mean you're a helicopter parent. It just means you're pragmatic about your kid's personality & safety. And, really, isn't that what everyone here wants? Kid's safety?

Posted by: liz | July 1, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Trust me, the guys who tell stories about growing up in Chinese village don't mention any leashes. One of them mentioned, however, how he cooked a dinner for the whole family.He was left how with immobile great-great-grandma while the rest worked in the field. The guy was 4 years old, and the reason he remembered that story was that he was scolded for dumping the ingridients for two dishes into one pot. His reasoning (which he remembers) was that it all would be mixed in a stomach anyway :)

Now, how many of your children remember what hapened to them at that age? I told you, your kids will have to compete not with average, but with the brightest young people from around the world.

I travel extensively, but don't see many kids on leashes, even in Europe. Certainly not in Asia. In Japan it would be an insult: the kids under three are treated like gods. I saw them running on stage while the symphony orchestra was performing. In less prosperous countries five years ols are guinding water buffaloes (for some reason they obey children better than adults, I hav3e pictures)

Posted by: Barely legal | July 1, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Since I haven't time today to read every single post on this topic - I would like to say:

To those who believe that leashes are horrible to use on their children you apparently have never felt the panic of any possible eminent danger to your precious child. A split second is the only difference between bringing them home in one piece.

For all you parents, or other caregivers out there who have used the "leash" -- thank you for being strong enough to know that a split second could mean your world would be ripped apart if anything happened to your child.

So, use the leash, ignore all the idiots on this post who bash you or give you attitude. You are the parent and it is ultimately your responsibility to make decisions that are going to keep your child safe NO MATTER WHAT!!!!

Posted by: cj | July 1, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"no one expects kids to learn the first time, how many times must i say it, it is a job people, you may need to teach them a single lesson many times, that's why its an important job. leashing them teaches them nothing and absolves parents of all responsibility. when exactly will you start teaching them limits?"

This is ridiculous. Using a restraint = not ever teaching them limits? Using a restraint = absolving themselves of all responsibility? That's the stupidest comment I've seen yet. Be serious. They're simply using another tool to keep their child safe. And don't fool yourself - most parents use it in conjunction with teaching limits - things like saying "Don't run out into the street". Children at the age of 2 simply don't have the comprehension to understand why wandering off is bad. Why is using a tool in a crowded place or along a busy street to prevent that from happening so bad?

Posted by: liz | July 1, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Bethesda and wonder why so many posts that are so over the top on this topic. I wonder how many of these posts are real or just plants, but it is really NUNYA business whether or not someone needs/wants to use a leash.

Posted by: Siggy | July 1, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

to barely legal: I've travelled a lot in Europe, too. Europe was built before cars were invented. American suburbs, after. Ergo, Europe is a lot safer for a child to run along than America. You don't have a lot of local roads that are basically highways.

I fail to see how putting your child in a restraint equates to dumbing your child down. Maybe if they weren't in one & got hit by a car & suffered brain damage . . . . Just one example: my brother was in a leash. He now has a masters degree. I guess he'd have a PhD if he hadn't been in the harness, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

The leashes are OK but the chain collars are a little much.

Posted by: Stick | July 1, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

So, use the leash, ignore all the idiots on this post who bash you or give you attitude. You are the parent and it is ultimately your responsibility to make decisions that are going to keep your child safe NO MATTER WHAT!!!!

Also, don't let them eat any food that is larger than their windpipe (choking), don't let them play in the front yard (might run into the road you know) make sure you buy a ranch home because they might fall down the stairs, always give them a shower instead of a bath (drowning), don't take them in the car (leading cause of death), don't let them ride bikes (fall = broken bone/head injury) , don't leave them with a "caregiver" (shaken baby/molestation), don't let them watch cartoons (seizures), keep them away from flowers (there might be bees and they might be allergic), oh, and don't let them use any cutlery other than a spoon until age 9.

Oh, and 9:07, I always thought the leashes were more an indicator of the mental status of the parent rather than the child.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Barely legal- More like barely intelligible. Of course country people don't need leashes. There are no crowds or traffic. And third world water buffalo wrangling sounds pretty unsafe to me. You got any stats on the numbers of kids killed or maimed by one the prickliest species on the planet? I have memories from before I was 3. No offense to myself, but that's not a sign of intelligence. But please, tell us more!

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I didn't even mention the part where it's OK for kids under 5 to interrupt the symphony. How is that ever OK? You think that's preferable to leashes?

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

People have strong opinions for two major reasons. First, a leash comes way close to child abuse. A woman in Raleigh was just convicted of wrapping her foster child so tightly he suffocated. She was trying to keep him safe. People are now asking themselves "why didn't anyone speak up?". Those of you receiving dark looks from others...they're wondering whether to speak up as you drag your child along. Safety is now a catch-all for doing anything to make the parent's life easier. We all see people walking their children down a not-busy street with a leash on. We're not talking about walking down Penn Ave, we're talking suburbia around the block. Second, it looks like something vaguely like slavery (imagine a caucasian nanny walking an aa child on a leash...shudder), it looks like something we only see when watching the criminally insane facing justice (the Manson trial). If you can't control your kid, then learn how before taking them out. That is called responsible parenting.

Dressing a leash up as a monkey is clever marketing. Those not wanting to call it a leash are deluding yourselves, badly.

Posted by: a strong opinion | July 1, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

We do some historical interpretation of the 18th century, and the clothes for toddlers in those days had "leading strings" -- a strap coming off each shoulder that you could grab to keep your child with you (or out of the fire, away from the horse's hooves, etc.). Like someone else said, these harnesses/leashes are not new, and as others have pointed out, they can be handy.

Posted by: 18thCMom | July 1, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

We had a leash/harness and son refused to have anything to do with it. They do require some bit of cooperation from your child.
One son was a chatterbox so he always stuck around so he'd have us to talk to. The other son was a toucher. He didn't run off because he was too busy delving into the minor details of things.

I also carried children around a lot. I think that's more fun anyway.

Posted by: RoseG | July 1, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

On a vacation trip to Williamsburg, I tried putting one of my pups on a leash. I was hoping she would find it easier to lead me around that way more than the leash serving as a safety device. It didn't work though. She just stood still, refused to budge, and acted as she was being insulted.

Oh well, back to the good ol' fashioned way of staying together by holding hands.

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 1, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

whether or not to use a leash is up to the parents. my daughter went through a phase where she refused to hold hands and liked to bolt just for fun. I didn't have a leash, but considered using one for that time. Parents need to do what they need to do to make their kids safe.

Posted by: its up to the parents | July 1, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

atb, you are veering off topic! OF COURSE, life is dangerous, esp in the Third World. My kids didn't guide (impossible to wrangle, btw) water buffaloes, but I have pictures of them standing next to these creatures, just like local kids. The buffaloes freak out when adults approach them, and they are docile with young'uns.

I recommend Obama's book (the first one), smth like "Legacy of my father". Read about his life in Indonesia. Think. Makes my stories look tame. As for "no crowds in the countryside" -- Google "country fair" or "dragon boat festival" in China.

Posted by: Barely legal | July 1, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Barely legal is infusing BHO into this discussion? Does this book cover his trip to Pakistan? No it does not, and I suspect Pakistan is a little dangerous too, but he conveniently left that trip out.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Barely legal, maybe you should look at some child mortality rates before extolling the virtues of life in the developing world. I have lived for long periods in Africa and it is not something to be blindly romanticized.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

gee, if you people love your kids so much, you'd think more of you would stay home to raise them instead of farming that out to strangers. the contradiction is very interesting indeed.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Barely legal is barely sober...

Posted by: Anon for this | July 1, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

barely intelligible - I'm having trouble with your point. Let me give it a try. Kids don't shouldn't be leashed. It's better for them to interrupt the symphony and play with water buffalo, it helps them remember things from when they were 4, and it will help them compete in the global economy. Also, I should read Obama's book and your very proud of all the travel you've done and like to demonstrate that with pointless stories.

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

And the same goes for all of you waxing about riding bikes without helmets and riding with seat belts and "we all turned out fine." Right, you did. But a lot of kids didn't. Too bad for them and their parents, I guess. Far better to be "free" of such restraint than alive and possibly offending the sensibilities of random strangers by their use of helmets.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

nix "don't" and your=you're

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't love my kid at all. None of the kids in my daughter's daycare are loved. I also don't leash my kid, another demonstration of how much I don't love her. No one loves their kid less than me. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

When I see parents actually PULLING BACK on them, as if they were DOGS and they didn't want them to sniff a tree or something, THAT'S when I think enough is enough. I have had many a time when my toddler didn't want to hold my hand. Even though I had another child with me, I would simply and calmly tell her she had a choice: hold my hand, or we left. And we did! If your life is so busy that we can't speak to children as though they are human beings, even if they don't understand us at the time, then how have we evolved? Yes it's hard when you have a "runner" but when you are outside and with your child, let's pay a little more attention to them and not our Blackberry.

Posted by: becca | July 1, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

...and some are surprised that not everybody selects a screen name...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: | July 1, 2008 10:09 AM :

When I was growing up in the early eighties, we kids used to put the canoe in the large creek in our back yard and would paddle upstream for miles, often without life jackets, and would disappear for hours, fishing and swimming all along the way, completely out of touch with our parents. We also used to ride our bikes all around the neighborhood (gasp!) without helmets!

Darwinism at its best! The dumbest kids die in accidents, while the smarter ones survive to reproduce.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Just wow.

Hey I was born in 1971 and I had a leash/harness for a couple of years. The pictures are cute.

I have used one for my son, particularly the age between about 18 months and 2 years. Now he's almost 3 and we rarely bother even to bring it.

He needed the time to learn the discipline. Hold your hand over your head for 25 minutes and you'll discover why I didn't think it was entirely fair or realistic at that age for him to hold my hand all the time, and he simply wasn't old enough to be able to stay close.

But he needed and wanted to explore the world at his level and to be active. So we used a harness. I'd use one again. If people want to be judgmental about it, be my guest. For us it made getting out and about and exploring safer and much more fun.

Posted by: Shandra | July 1, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Are you talking about an Asian Water Buffalo or an African Water Buffalo?

Posted by: LB | July 1, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Are you talking about an Asian Water Buffalo or an African Water Buffalo?

Posted by: LB | July 1, 2008 12:27 PM


To be specific, Domestic Asian Water Buffalo, though atb probably doesn'tknow the diff.

Posted by: BL | July 1, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Shandra ignores the option of not going somewhere because she can't control the child (or as she phrases it "needed the time to learn the discipline"). Shandra has a choice and she chooses to do whatever she wants, which is to put her child in bondage. sad. very sad. It is all about Shandra, isn't it?

Posted by: another option | July 1, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

You have to teach your children, not tie them up. When I am walking holding hands in a parking lot with my 3 year old granddaughter, she reminds me that I am to walk on the outside where the moving cars are while she stays on the inside close to the parked cars. No leash is necessary; her parents taught her safe behavior.

Posted by: sscritic | July 1, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"Hey I was born in 1971 and I had a leash/harness for a couple of years. The pictures are cute.

I have used one for my son, particularly the age between about 18 months and 2 years. Now he's almost 3 and we rarely bother even to bring it."

Wow! Talk about the cycle of abuse! What are the educational levels of people who leash their kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I had 2 children 18 months apart(maybe it is an indication of my mental status), and I would use a wrist restraint on my son while I carried my daughter in a chest carrier. He wasn't a runner so much as a wanderer who had a hearing loss, so calling after him wasn't much of an option. We cleared up his hearing problem(finally found a DR that didn't say, "He's just ignoring you Mom."), and he grew out of the wandering, and now he is in his last year of college on a full academic scholarship. I would guess it didn't hurt too much.

Posted by: Sparks | July 1, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind seeing a kid tethered when there is some slack in the line. But when I see those "brute babies" straining at the end of a harness, I can't help but think of a poorly trained dog... And the responsibility always lies with the owner... and feed your kids less...

Posted by: wdr | July 1, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

When will you think it's safe enough to take the leash off your kids? When their 3, 5, 11, 15, 20? Welcome to the world of parenting, your kids are never safe.

Posted by: nelly | July 1, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh please.

If you want to call a harness/leash abuse, you may as well call a stroller a police cruiser and a carseat a straightjacket.

Holding a harness is not really any different than holding hands, except you're not likely to dislocate the elbow when the child drops in passive resistance.

As someone who was abused as a child, I don't appreciate the use of the word like that. Frankly, parents slapping and hitting their kid to "make them behave" when they're 20 months old and don't have impulse control yet is much more abusive to my mind.

Posted by: Shandra | July 1, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone provide links to peer-reviewed scientific research showing whether harnessing small children for walking in public results in any short- or long-term psychological damage to them?

(Didn't think so)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

It's probably been said in all the comments above, but I'll add my two cents. Leashes on kids as a substitute for poor parenting skills are flat out WRONG. Shut off the FOX News fear mongering machine, get your kids out to the local park and let them run - without shadowing their every move. Guess what? They'll come back. Kids are natural explorers of boundaries. If you give them the chance to do so in a hospitable setting, it is less like they will do so at an inopportune moment. Also, teach them the meaning "No" and "stay next to me." Save the leash (and not one of those 25 foot extendable ones) for the dog.

Posted by: bethesda | July 1, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm a father of a little girl filled with curiosity. I used a harness with her from the time she was able to walk until she was about 5 or so. Never bothered me, and I never felt the need to hide the harness as a fuzzy animal backpack.

Got some odd comments from time to time, but they never bothered me. I'd rather have my kid alive & close as opposed to dead, lost, or stolen.

Posted by: peter | July 1, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

It's true that I don't know the difference between the species of water buffalo. I was actually hoping it was a spoof in the spirit of MP and The Holy Grail. Not knowing that is hard to explain since I wasn't leashed at a child.

Posted by: atb | July 1, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

get your kids out to the local park and let them run - without shadowing their every move. Guess what? They'll come back.

Pedophile heaven!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

There is absolutely nothing wrong with leashes -- either for dogs or for children. Get off of your high horses...

Posted by: Steve | July 1, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Better keep those leashes on until about 10 folks! maybe you can teach them some tricks too!


Crash involvement rates (crashes per 100,000 people) are the highest for 5- to 9-year-old males, who tend to dart out into the street. This problem may be compounded by the fact that speeds are frequently a problem in areas where children are walking and playing.

In general, males are more likely to be involved in a crash than females; in 2003, 69 percent of pedestrian fatalities were male, and the male pedestrian injury rate was 58 percent higher than for females.2

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

What's next, a crate? So they don't chew on your shoes and furniture?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

What's next, a crate?

That's right, no more cribs for babies. Just let 'em fall off the bed onto the floor, cuz they'll be just fine.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"When you do something dangerously wrong as a kid, you should be scolded"

Scolding is not SHAME - what a dufus.

Posted by: R U kidding me? | July 1, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Shandra

"As someone who was abused as a child, I don't appreciate the use of the word like that."

And I'm not surprised that you have continued the cycle of abuse.

Posted by: Get real | July 1, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

It saves lives and also saves costs for when the police are called to search for a missing chile.

Where oh where is that missing "chile"?

Posted by: LMAO | July 1, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

again with the "School's out" trolls. we get it, you're home alone unsupervised.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"It saves lives and also saves costs for when the police are called to search for a missing chile."

Mmmm. Maybe everyone should be leashed.

Posted by: LOL | July 1, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

If your kids are that uncontrollable, leave them at home.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Can we change the topic for a minute? I was out to lunch with some friends while my children were in their summer reading class and drove by a fireworks stand. Does anyone buy fireworks for their children anymore? What about sparklers?

Posted by: Donna | July 1, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I like a leash and a ball gag, it just makes me feel soo, Oh, this is On Parenting? Sorry wrong blog...

Posted by: Get Real | July 1, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I saw a women with triplets on Stathmore Avenue in Kensington. The kids would have been killed (and maybe mom too) if they did not have their leashes.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"Are you talking about an Asian Water Buffalo or an African Water Buffalo? "

Umm, the African Buffalo or Cape Buffalo is NOT a "water buffalo"; the species are only distantly related.

"If your kids are that uncontrollable, leave them at home."

No, because then all they do is come on the "On Parenting" blog all day and post anonymous messages berating folks for leashing their children.

Aujourd'hui c'est la Fête du Canada! Bonne fête!

Posted by: m2j5c2 | July 1, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

No, because then all they do is come on the "On Parenting" blog all day and post anonymous messages berating folks for leashing their children.
-----

ZING!

Posted by: DCer | July 1, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

"I saw a women with triplets on Stathmore Avenue in Kensington. The kids would have been killed (and maybe mom too) if they did not have their leashes."

How did the woman hold onto all dem leashed chillun at the same time?

Donna

"Does anyone buy fireworks for their children anymore? What about sparklers?"

Check any double-wide.


Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Before reading any responses:

Why are people not happy with harnesses? What's the harm? Holding hands is good- this is just an extension of that. Most parents are rabid for anything that even smells like it could protect kids, but this is something bad?

As an escape artist from early on, my moms harness was a lifesaver for her and I both I'm sure.

Posted by: Liz D | July 1, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Fof3: If you see this, could you pls e-mail me at parenting@washingtonpost.com. I'd like to ask a few questions about a comment of yours I'm planning to use in a blog for tomorrow. Thanks.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | July 1, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

LizD

"As an escape artist from early on, my moms harness was a lifesaver for her and I both I'm sure."

Grammar Police!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Where oh where is that missing "chile"?

Last seen running off with a "Hot Dog."

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Donna,

Me and the youngin' just a-love fiirworks. Of course, we make our own. We jus' use a bit of that ole blackpower that we use for weasel huntin'!

Hot dang, thems is some fiirworks. Made better than them durn im-ported ones.

Posted by: Jed Clampett | July 1, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

This site is exhibiting an interesting moral editorial compass. It's pointed Due Irrational. The following comment stays, but yesterday's reference to quark is a teacher's pet is considered so offensive, it was deleted overnight. Now we know what the Post's policy really means.

"Weird. I always assumed that the kids tethered on leashes were retarded.

Posted by: I stand corrected | July 1, 2008 9:07 AM"

Posted by: anonforthis | July 1, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I have two boys now ages 12 and 13. Back when my oldest was a toddler I used a harness with him. He was not a runner, just a kid who liked to walk without always holding hands. He never had an issue with the harness and neither did I. It allowed him some independence while keeping him safe in crowds or near traffic.

I don't understand what all the fuss is about. The harness is not around a child's neck like a dog collar. Whenever I see a child in a large gathering wearing a harness or leash I always smile. To me it shows a parent more concerned with keeping a child safe than worrying about what the self-esteem crowd links.

Posted by: Led Zep | July 1, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious. My top 5 Google Adds are all about dog training.

But I suppose that's better than adds about weasels...

Posted by: Today's blog going to the dogs | July 1, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

To me it shows a parent more concerned with keeping a child safe than worrying about what the self-esteem crowd links.

yes, it is important to ensure that the children have NO self-esteem and no better way to humiliate your child than to leash them like a pet.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"There is a huge difference between hand-holding and a leash - it's called human contact."

I actually remember the pain caused by having to hold my mom's (or dad's) hand. It hurt so bad after a few minutes! no permanent damage done, but even so, I know I would have preferred a "leash" situation as a child. Try holding your hand up in the air with no relief for 20 minutes (time it took to walk to grocery store when I was a kid). I didn't use a leash with my first because I thought it looked too weird and there were two instances where he escaped from my hand hold and ran away-- very scary moments!!

With the second I plan to use it as soon as she is able to walk- and I imagine that she will want to! If she wants to hold my hand instead-- great! Fabulous! the leash would just be there as a back-up/ insurance policy. doesn't have to be either/or-- you can do both!

I just don't care what people think anymore-- I know lots of kids that had "leashes" when they were kids and they turned out fine, so it just isn't rational to rule it out because it looks weird.

To the poster that feared that such leaches just put off growing up to the realization that you shouldn't dart into trafic, the vision of 18 year olds being at least let off their leach and running wildly into traffic is just about the funniest thing I've heard of! You crack me up!

Posted by: cal girl | July 1, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"The following comment stays, but yesterday's reference to quark is a teacher's pet is considered so offensive, it was deleted overnight. Now we know what the Post's policy really means.


"Weird. I always assumed that the kids tethered on leashes were retarded.

Posted by: I stand corrected | July 1, 2008 9:07 AM"

"Now we know what the Post's policy really means."

What would that be?


Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I just have to admit that the idea of a mother with 3 or 4 kids walking down the street - all on leashes - brings to mind the image of a professional dog walker I once saw in New York City. It kind of made me laugh out loud a little bit.

Posted by: Donna | July 1, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

My older son was a wonderer so he was leashed. My younger son is a wonderer, so he is leashed.

When we go to the mall, rather than letting my two year old sit in a stroller while feverishly trying to escape, I take him out, attach a leash to his wrist and the other end to my wrist. He then seemingly walks me around. Other Moms have told me they like the idea and would like to do the same.

Sometimes, when we go for walks in the neighborhood, the leash comes in handy.

It is a great idea for two and three year olds who really cannot communicate well yet! Discipline at this stage is less important than losing a child!!!!

Puting a child in a leash is better than imprisonment in a stroller!

Posted by: Happy | July 1, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

"LISBON, Portugal -- Police have completed their final report into the disappearance of British child Madeleine McCann but officials have made no decision yet on whether to proceed with the investigation or drop the case, Portugal's attorney-general said Tuesday."

Where are you little girl? My heart goes out to the parents, what a living hell.

Posted by: saddened | July 1, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

was yesterday's snark directed at me deleted? why? i thought it was funny. i really liked how stacey worded yesterday's blog.

Posted by: quark | July 1, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Shandra

"As someone who was abused as a child, I don't appreciate the use of the word like that."

And I'm not surprised that you have continued the cycle of abuse.

Posted by: Get real | July 1, 2008 1:06 PM

You know you need a personality transplant when insulting abuse victims becomes your secret online passion.

Posted by: gcoward | July 1, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

gcoward - telling the truth is my passion. sad you see that as some kind of personality perversion.

Posted by: getting real | July 1, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Correction: Get Real, getting real, and each of his affiliated personalities is not perverted. He suffers from severe delusions of omniscience.

Take two doses of humility and see us in the morning.

Posted by: gcoward | July 1, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

How many of those here who are horrified of leashes have mobile children?

"Wow! Talk about the cycle of abuse! What are the educational levels of people who leash their kids?"
I use a leash (two "fanny packs" connected by a tether) in crowded situations and I have a Ph.D. Thanks for asking.

""Weird. I always assumed that the kids tethered on leashes were retarded"
In fact, my child has Down syndrome. And your point is.....?

Posted by: Angela | July 1, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I think that these harnesses may be useful for some children. However, I think they also raise several problems. Children in the toddler/preschool years are seeking greater independence and are very curious about the world which is what leads to the "need" for these in the first place. One of the most important things for kids this age to learn is limits and appropriate boundaries. If the harness is used very sparingly and the adult is careful to continue to interact with the child while he/she is wearing it (including talking about appropriate behavior in dangerous situations such as walking across the street) they are probably fine. But the first thing that I worry about when I see parents using them is that they are skipping very important communication about safety, independence and boundaries with their children. Kids don't just wake up one morning and know how to conduct themselves in the world. In order for them to be safe in public places without a harness...they have to practice behaving in public places without a harness.

Posted by: preschool teacher | July 1, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

and still it stays. Since 9:07 a.m., the Washington Post has seen fit to ignore and promote ignorance:

"Weird. I always assumed that the kids tethered on leashes were retarded.

Posted by: I stand corrected | July 1, 2008 9:07 AM"

It's not the job of the readers to monitor WaPo's own policy, identify offensive posts, and send emails to Stacey or anyone using their work email addresses.

DO YOUR OWN JOB!!

Posted by: gee whillakers | July 1, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

and there it is...preschool teacher at 6:23. All you practioners of bondage should read that one. practice

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Germane Comments: 12

Troll Barf: 202

Censored Comments: 1

Comments needing to be censored: 9:07 et seq.

Posted by: Today's Count | July 1, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

"But the first thing that I worry about when I see parents using them is that they are skipping very important communication about safety, independence and boundaries with their children."

Do you wonder the same about holding hands, strollers, and carseats? They're all restraining in their own way, it's just that there's this... odd... prejudice against some varieties.

Using a harness now and then in no way replacing safety conversations. Also, to whoever said to let kids run at the park... of course.

For us anyway, we used the harness in crowded places (festivals, downtown), when we were a bit more distracted (Ikea), or where our son was especially distracted (zoo). And again, it was great at the right age.

As for the abuse comments - again, don't be silly. I'm quite pleased for you if in your life what you've experienced as "abuse" is on a par with a stroller or a harness.

Posted by: Shandra | July 2, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Some people said they merely picked up the child who might run off. I used a harness for my child when my arms were already occupied with a car seat containing an infant. Parents who shop with their children (imagine buying shoes for your little ones) may have their attention focused while making a payment, and glance down to see that the child has wandered off. A toddle/preschooler is REALLY hard to find in a department store, because of the hanging racks of clothes.
Finally - it is easy to criticize others, isn't it?

Posted by: Esme | July 2, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

If my options are letting my 18 month old walk with a harness and get some exercise OR sit in her stroller, I'm definitely picking the leash. She's more engaged with the world when she's out of the stroller which I hope to phase out as soon as possible.

Perhaps when she's older she won't need it, but for now it works great for us. She's hard of hearing, and it keeps her within a distance that she can hear us.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

A harness is MUCH less of a restraint than a stroller, and yet I've never heard anyone criticizing strapping and imobilizing your child in a stroller. Why is THAT not considered overrestraint, or failing to teach your child how to behave in public? If anything, putting your little person on a tether provides them more freedom than being in a stroller. At least kids on a leash are walking and being active. What I don't understand is the growing number of older kids I see getting pushed around in strollers, at 4 and 5 years of age.

Posted by: PQ | July 2, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Seems everyone ideas about this problem of maintaining safety while teaching disciplined behavior to children. We all do what we can. I know someone whose mother (in 1954) attached his harness to a clothesline outdoors in an unfenced yard so that they could be in the garden together and he would not run after the trucks on their very busy street. My own child could completely undo her safety straps in her carseat by age 20 months. Most of the time she left them looking like they were still attached. She just liked knowing that she wasn't contained. I would check her in the rear view mirror as often as possible and stop the car to redo her "bindings". This particular act of rebellion was short-lived, thank heavens as she found other ways to confound me. She has grown up to be a sensible woman who always wears her seatbelt. We all do what we can and hope for the best.

Posted by: Rerow | July 2, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Shandra

"As someone who was abused as a child, I don't appreciate the use of the word like that."

And I'm not surprised that you have continued the cycle of abuse.

Posted by: Get real | July 1, 2008 1:06 PM

You know you need a personality transplant when insulting abuse victims becomes your secret online passion.

Posted by: gcoward | July 1, 2008 4:31 PM


Coward, that was not the real Get Real, which has become a ping-pong on this board. It's getting used by everyone now so I am giving it up. I'd never make fun of an abuse victim, but apprently the confusion over Get Real leads people to believe I would.

Have at it people, use 'Get Real' at will. I won't use it anymore.

Posted by: Get Real | July 2, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

At the risk of opening a new avenue of abuse - as a non parent - I applaud those parents who keep their kids on a leash because not only it is practical but it keeps the little ones bugging the rest of us. I've seen some children I would recommend crates for.....

Posted by: misplacedamerican | July 2, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

We were surprised to learn that a leash-and-harness does a really bad job of *controlling* our kid's wanderings. ("This is nothing like walking a dog!" was my spouse's comment.) What it does do is give our toddler a wider range of freedom while keeping us aware of where ze is. It also saves on the backaches (especially for the heavily pregnant spouse!) and avoids the passive resistance and squirmy arms mentioned repeatedly above.

I agree with the poster who wondered why strapping a kid down in a stroller, with no freedom of movement at all, is more generally accepted than a leash.

I don't think there's a single method that's appropriate for every kid out there. Leash works for us sometimes, as does free walking and stroller. The rest of you, you figure out what works for you, your kids, safety, and sanity.

Posted by: Harry | July 2, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

As a substantially pregnant, 40-year-old mom who lives in the city with her husband and 2-year-old son, I really appreciate the harness. I always said it was something I'd never do -- tether my kid the way you'd tether a dog -- but then I got pregnant and found myself unable to run after my son, who simply refuses to ride in any stroller. And, that child is a runner! He'll stop in the middle of the cross walk and just sit or lie down, or he will decide to take off at full speed into a busy parking lot without watching for moving cars. Carrying a 30-pound child for much more than a block is difficult in my condition, especially in the heat. Thus, I bought a backpack with a 45-inch tether and cringed as I put it on him for the first time. Turns out, my hesitation was unwarranted from his standpoint. He loves the backpack because he can store his trains or his bubble blower in it. Granted, when we get to the park, the backpack comes off, however I always put it back on to go walking in the city or along the dock to feed the ducks (incidentally, kids have been known to fall into the river from the dock -- two in a stroller just last fall). I do take pains to teach my son traffic safety -- to hold my hand and to look both ways, etc. -- but the reality is he's still only two and he cannot be expected to reason quite yet. I am sorry that so many people here disapprove of the tether; I was in your camp at one time, but now that I have a spirited boy with no common sense about what is safe and what is not. Now, I am less judgmental and more respectful of a parent's right to do whatever he or she thinks will protect that child from the child's own errors in judgment. Every child is different, so every approach to safety must be different. I am hopeful that my second son will hold hands willingly at all times and will not require additional restraint, but I am not holding my breath.

Posted by: Old Town Mom | July 6, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

fr Movie buff:

>"Mother of the Year" Joan Crawford harnessed her adopted son inside his crib....

I think that the harness was used until the boy (Christopher, now deceased) was about 10 or so. crawford was NOT a nice person.

Posted by: Alex | July 7, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

My 2-year-old son hates the stroller and hates holding hands. He's a runner who will do anything to break free. In January, when we were traveling in Cincinnati, he was holding hands with an adult and tried so hard to lurch free that he essentially yanked his right arm out of its joint at the elbow. He screamed and cried out in pain, and when he refused to move that arm, it was clear that we had an emergency on our hands. We took our toddler to the emergency room at Children's Hospital in Cincinnati and the doctor said my son had Nursemaid's Elbow (a partial dislocation of the elbow, which is a common issue among children under age 5). Fortunately, the doctor was able to fix the dislocation. Consequently, that right arm will be weak for the next year or so and we have to be careful not to injure it again. That's why we bought a harness (which is actually a cute backpack with a tether). So, for all those people out there who are quick to judge about the leash issue, I implore you to think twice before you judge a parent so harshly and accuse that parent of child abuse. Sometimes, a parent has a very legitimate reason (in this case, a medical reason) to make certain choices about a child's safety. A harness is not my first choice but it serves its purpose in preventing a more serious injury. I am fortunate that my son doesn't seem to mind his backpack, since it also holds toys and drinks, and his dad and I have peace of mind just knowing that we are helping to prevent a recurrence of Nursemaid's Elbow.

Posted by: Laurie | July 7, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

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