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Using a child leash

Photo Copyright Amanda Formaro/The Family 1998, 1999, 2000

Q: "The other day I was at the mall with my three kids. There was a woman sitting and talking with someone while her toddler was picking up things off the floor and putting them in to her mouth! I know things like this happen, but I believe that the woman wasn't paying much attention because she had her child on one of those kid leashes. Do you think that in general, people take advantage of the false security these devices give?"

Answers from our members:

Sam wrote:

I bought a 'leash' which went from my wrist to my son's wrist when he was small, in part, because of a story a friend shared from a parenting class he'd attended. The speaker began his speech; interrupted himself to tell everyone to put their hands in the air. After everyone complied, he continued his speech. Just about the time everyone started to put their hands back down because their arms were getting tired, he stopped, and said: you can put your arms down now.....I just wanted everyone to realize how a small child feels when walking through the mall with Mom and dad and holding onto their hands! I used the leash only because my son was prone to dash off at the slightest distraction and he fought holding hands with a fury. It never made me any less watchful but it made both of us much more comfortable and happy. We used BECAUSE we love and wanted to make sure he was as safe as possible. If anything, he liked it more than I did because he felt it gave him a chance to explore without 'losing' me! It gave both of us a sense of security. Once when someone remarked on how awful it was that I was using such a 'horrible device' on my child and didn't I know that children weren't pets, my son [then about 3] piped up: 'I like it! My mommy won't get lost when we wear it!' I wish you could have seen the look on that lady's face.

Catwoman wrote:

I think the leash is not the issue here-it's the method in which the parent uses the leash. Before I became a parent, I thought it was just awful to see a child on a leash or in a harness. I am still not entirely fond of leashes now that I am a parent, but I have bought and used one in the past. Our son would not stay in a stroller once he learned to run, so we took a leash with us when we went to a carnival or to a place where we knew there would be tons of people and a lot of room for him to run away without us easily catching him. I think I used it a total of 5 or 6 times before he figured out that he wasn't allowed to run away from Mom and Daddy and we have not used it since. I do not like the idea of using a harness on a child, but I don't condemn other parents' decision to use one. Like I said- it's the means in which the leash or harness is used that seems to be the issue, not the fact that the parent is using those things.

Sherri wrote:

I never had a child leash for my daughter, though I can see the reason people use them. But that Mother's child eating off the ground was probably better than the child being lost or running out of the store. It's hard to know without being in someone else's shoes.

merideth wrote:

I think that child would have been eating off of the floor, leash or not. Some moms are more attentive and some are less, period. I freak out over everything when I'm out with my kids, and I have friends who are so laid back, they won't miss their little ones even after not seeing them for a couple minutes because after all

Jennifer wrote:

I have never like the leashes, and have yet to use one. That being said, there were many time that I could have used particular, at the mall. For instance, when my son was about 2 1/2 or 3...I was pregnant with my second child...we were walking in JCPenney near the exit to the mall. We were walking through some racks of clothes, and my son walked around one rack...with me right behind him...then he was gone! My husband and I freaked out! We frantically looked around for several minutes, afraid he had gone out into the mall while we were searching for him. I turned around to backtrack and he was behind me...I guess he turned the second corner around the rack, or went into the middle of the rack, before I could make the corner. We were right there, and I watched him turn that corner. It is true that they can disappear just like *that*. Now that I have 2 boys, I feel at times that I could use one, but for now, I just use an umbrella stroller when I'm in a public place until my youngest one (who is now 2) cannot fit in it anymore. After that, I'll either not go anywhere other than the grocery store where he can get into the basket, or wait until my husband is with me. I know how it feels to "loose" a child, while you are watching them. If the leash gives that extra bit of protection for kids that are so full of energy, then I say, do what you need to do to keep them safe. I will admit that there was a time before my oldest boy could walk that I swore I would never use them. I haven't, but never say never. If a leash can save a child from being lost, taken or hurt...then they are fine...whatever it takes to keep them safe.

Sarah wrote:

My oldest son is now age 33. When he was 6 months old he weighed 25 pounds. I am only 5'5". Boy, was I ever glad when he walked at age 12 months! And he was all boy! I had to watch him every second of every waking hour. I could not afford a sitter or a stroller, but I could afford a "leash". And, Yes, I used it when I was in the department and grocery stores if they didn't have a basket with a child seat that I could put him in. And, Yes, I got some crude remarks and dirty looks. But, even as attentive and protective a parent as I was, if I took my eyes off of him for one-second, then, "Boom" he was gone. Even back then, you had to watch for kidnappers and molesters, so I ignored the remarks and the looks and hoped those people never had to go through anything like that with their children. The woman who wasn't paying attention to her child must certainly have been wrapped up in her conversation, but even then, she could have glanced at her child now and then to see what it was getting into. Children get bored with parental conversation and need some kind of diversion, even garbage on the sidewalk.

Anne wrote:

My mother, in the mid-1950's, was walking with a friend and her child, when the child pulled away from his mother's hand and ran into the street. This child was not so lucky, he was hit by a car and killed instantly. My mother then swore that her children would be in leashes. So my sister and I wore them until we had gained some self-restraint (probably about 4 or 5 years old). And so, I have raised my children with them. When my oldest daughter was 3 we took a trip to Las Vegas with my in-laws--my daughter only wanted to hold Grandma's hand, but Grandma would sometimes let her go, and off my little darling would scoot. The leash gave both my daughter and mother-in-law the freedom to enjoy each other, and me the peace of mind knowing that she wouldn't get too far away to get in trouble. This summer we will be using them on our two youngest, now 4 and 5, while we go to DisneyWorld! If anyone ever felt my children were 'pets' on leashes, I never heard one negative comment. But I have had plenty of parents and grandparents asking where they could buy one for their child. God Bless all the concerned parents--leash users or not!!

Susan wrote:

It is so easy to judge others when you do not walk in their shoes. There are many children who will do what their parents ask of them. There are others (like my youngest child) who are very curious, energetic, and very difficult to handle. All the training in the world does not always produce the result you would like to see. This causes much heartache to the parents. But unless you have a child like this, it is impossible to understand. I never believed in child harnesses until we had our youngest child. She goes in high gear constantly. I love my child deeply, and will do whatever it takes to ensure her safety and to protect her from herself. I think that people should not be so quick to judge others especially when they do not know their situation.

Kathy wrote:

I never believed in child leashes until I was pregnant with our third child and was not allowed to lift anything. It worked to restrain my 2 year old enough that I didn't have to lift him and I could still keep him at arms length. It worked well for me during that time, but to be honest I haven't used it since and probably will not use again.

Carri Ann wrote:

I used leash for my son. Sometimes I would get really rude comments, like "only pets should be on leashes." My response was always "I'd rather take extra safety precautions in keeping my child safe, because it only takes a split second for a disaster to happen. If that makes you think I'm a bad parent, that's your problem." The majority of people's comments were actually supportive, and most people said that they wished that leashes had been available when their kids were little.

LINDA wrote:

I am a mother of 4 and a grandmother of 4. No two children are alike and some children do require more restraint than others. I had one that would dash off the minute I let go of her. A "leash" was a safety device for her and a help to me. I knew no one would be nabbing her before I could catch up to her. I love her dearly and was doing what had to be done to keep her safe. People should think twice before being so harsh in their opinions of other parents. Children are not animals, but they are precious and should be protected by whatever means works best. The leash has it's place. God bless.

Liane wrote:

I don't think the leash had anything to do with the woman paying less attention to her child. I am a very attentive and cautious Mom however, my first child, not matter what I did, would run under the clothes racks while I was paying for the items I purchased. She just loved practical jokes. I solved the problem by getting a "leash", the kind that attaches to her wrist and mine. I did not allow it to be an excuse for me to pay less attention but, it did restrain my daughter from taking off while I was paying the bill. I have two other children and do not have the same problem with them. Some children are very quick and can easily get into danger. If someone has a child like that the "leash" can save the child's life. In response to the comment that the leash is treating you child like a dog...Why do you put a dog on a leash? To keep it safe while out of it's everyday boundaries. If more people cared as much about their kids there would probably be fewer injuries. Like the moms who will drag their children but the arm increasing the risk of dislocating the joints? Not to mention the millions of Wakos out there that could snatch your kid in a second while you are standing there with other children wondering how you are going to save that child and keep the others safe.

K.M. wrote:

Why even use them? Whenever I see a child connected to a leash, it kills me! Are children are not animals! People who use these are, in my opinion, totally irresponsible anyhow. A friend of mine uses them and she pays less attention to her children because of it. Train your child in the way he or she should go...don't chain them up like animals!

Jennifer wrote:

I have 3 small children 6, 3,& 1. I don't use the leash at all! Parents need to start paying more attention to their children at all times. Leashes are for dogs, are they calling their children dogs? I sure hope not.

Anna wrote:

With my older daughter, I had to use *something* to keep her safe! Holding her hand didn't work -- she fought that to the point of injury! Strollers didn't work either, as she would simply open the straps and take off -- or try to. Climbing out of the stroller was more difficult -- and more dangerous -- for her than opening the straps in the first place. I'm not sure what is meant by a "leash" in the example, though. The first device we tried was one of those Velcro wrist things, but she could open those in a heartbeat. What we ended up using was a leather harness type device. This had a strap around the lower chest, straps over the shoulder held together across the upper chest, and it buckled closed in the back, where the strap for me to hang on to was. She loved it! She would even ask us to give her "rides" by hanging on to the back of it while she sort of floated along, arms and legs outstretched. It didn't mean we could watch her any less, though. It just meant we didn't have to be chasing her all the time.

Sherry wrote:

Though there are some who might be fooled into thinking a leash will keep their child 100% safe, on the whole, I feel the leash is a good idea. No matter how much a child understands, there is always the chance the child might run out into traffic. For instance, me and my 1 1/2 year-old son were going to our car from a store and I had him on a leash. When I unlocked the doors, all of a sudden, he darts out into the road just as a car is zooming by. Well, if it hadn't of been for the leash and me being able to pull him back just in time, I might not have my son today. Many feel that if you put a leash on your child, you are treating them like you would a dog. My response to that: 1) you are simply adding more protection to someone you love, and 2) some people treat their dogs better than they do their kids.

Karen wrote:

I think the type of parent who would put their child on a leash is the type of parent who is constantly too busy with everything else to give adequate time and attention to their child. Holding hands works great and strollers work wonders! Get those kids off of the leashes!

Dana wrote:

I think they are great, I lived in L.A. and it was just one more tool to keep my child from harm. I didn't depend on it to watch my child, I used it so that if someone were to try and grab her out of the stroller etc. I would have a few extra seconds to get help fight etc. Many people stopped and said how great it was. So I only wish I could find another for my two year old now.

Laura wrote:

I tend to agree with you for the most part. Those things give me a weird feeling when I see them. :( I know there are some parents that need them because their children are more spirited than others, but it is just so foreign to me. I have also seen many mothers that seem less observant when their children are on these leashes, almost like they are too comfortable with their kids being attached to them. For what it's worth!

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