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Do You Put Your Child on a Leash?

Is your toddler a bolter? How do you keep him or her safe?

I’ve seen the products. They used to be a pretty plain leash-like thing that attached to a wrist. Now they have fun backpacks that look like teddy bears or monkeys.

I am blessed (or cursed, depending on who you ask) that my 16-month is a late walker, but he’s started taking his first steps and running can’t be far behind, I’m told.

My hope is that he will be manageable and I won’t have to resort to a leash, no matter how cute the teddy bear is, but I know some people have found that they need a way to keep their child safe.

“I am now leashing another child. My first child a girl never ran away, but the two boys are bolters. My first son, now 7 and leash free would run out of a store into the street-no amount of scolding or physical punishment made any difference. It was better to leash than for him to get hurt. His younger brother-now 2-is worse. He runs and he runs fast. If you try to hold hands he will twist and throw himself on the ground or bite your hand until you let go." one BabyCenter Member wrote in response to a question about how to teach a toddler to stay close.

My hope is that I will have more luck with the teaching and not have to resort to a leash.

What have you found is the best method of keeping your child safe? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Broomall Mom September 09, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Absolutely not. Parents who do this can not control their children or are too busy with themselves to pay attention to their child so they stick them on a leash. Get a Dog!
Lori Israeli September 09, 2012 at 12:56 PM
You never know what people have going on in their lives. A child might have a condition could impede his or her ability to stay together with the family. IMO, the bottom line is safety and if the leash keeps a kid safe, by all means, use it. I know parents of autistic children, and let me say, they are definitely not too busy with themselves, but rather, too exhausted from taking extreme measures to help their kids reach their full potential. Let's give busy moms and dads a break on this one!
Newtown dad September 09, 2012 at 12:57 PM
I would somewhat agree with Broomall mom. We have three children our daughter who is now 12 , we never had an issue , Our 6 year old son- no issue . Our 4 1/2 year old - ISSUE! Just yesterday , my wife told me he bolted in the parking lot as they were walking to the car . She screamed so loud ,she said She sounded like a maniac . My son doesn't bolt with me as much. Every time we see an ambulance with the lights on or a situation arises . And he asks about it, I tell him the person in the ambulance didn't listen , and ran in a parking lot and were struck By a car. That's my method . Sometimes it works and sometimes it's like talking to a brick Wall. One thing I told my wife , don't worry I'd you sound like a maniac - if your screaming works than scram !!!! It works on me !
samantha September 09, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I think putting a leash on your child is just plan wrong. You don't need to scold them, if they don't listen they don't go, I have left several stores for this type of behavior. They learn quickly, you need to be firm, but gentle and teach them. My child needs to be holding into the stroller, a hand or the shopping cart or we don't move! In the beginning it took a little bit of time and lots of waiting and patience, but now it's second nature. She holds right on to something because she knows that is what is expected of her.. I think a leash is just a quick fix and does little to teach safety. If you run away I'll just tie you to something...lesson learned? Not really, I think society is too fast paced and parents are looking for ways to make it easier. Life lessons aren't taught over night it takes lots of time and patience, but in the long run, so worth it. So give your kids 2 choices, you can either hold in or we will go straight home. And stick to it, it may inconvenience you now for a brief time, but in the larger picture, it will be worth it. Remember when it comes to children...the days are long, but the years short.
Morgan King September 09, 2012 at 02:19 PM
The whole premise of who a leash is or isn't appropriate for is entirely arbitrary - just because you correlate leashes with dogs doesn't mean that's the only practical application for them. If it works for some people, great for them.
Regina DiLabbio Klugh King September 09, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Back in ancient times (1967) I harnessed my late-walking daughter on a leash because I was afraid that someone would grab her and run off with her in the King of Prussia Mall or a hungry eagle might fly over and see her in the yard and snap her up for a quick snack. Pity my poor child's gene pool for such obsessions on my part. But the harness also attached to a contraption installed in the back seat, where in those days there were no seatbelts. So I was the voice crying in the wilderness for child auto safety in the days when carseats, made of cardboard, hanger wire and plastic steering wheels, were situated between driver and passenger in the FRONT seat! My daughter is now 46 and totally unaffected by her leashing experience. At least I think so!
Anthony Wayne September 09, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Everything is a situation, and differs for each family. The term "leash" does have a connotation, however, a child with known impulse control difficulties, who is injured or killed in a parking lot for lack of a "tether", simply because others think it looks weird, is just wrong. Some have kids who are special needs, that is really hard on a family. It is unkind to make it worse for them by judging their actions, or dismissing their parenting skills not as effective as your own. A better solution might be to slow down, look into your heart, and perhaps help those who live with children who are affected in some way. As a dad, safety trumps all else in my opinion.
Kristin September 09, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I just love the people who know everything about how to be a parent. I used to know everything, too. Then I became a parent of a special needs child. Every child is different and every developmental phase of that child has different needs. You can be trying to pay for an item and then the kid is gone in the brief time you were distracted with the cashier. I remember trying to get through the door with a suitcase in a crowd when he decided to run along ahead into parking lot. We were lucky and I bought a harness. So I got to listen to the loud comments from people behind me who disagreed and the people who had similar experiences who agreed until he got to another developmental stage where this wasn't an issue. If that makes me a bad parent, so be it....he is alive and it only takes one time to have a tragedy.
A Mom September 09, 2012 at 08:58 PM
I had a very independent 18 month old walker ("don't hold my hand." I'll do it myself." "the baby rides in strollers.") and a newborn. The walker loved her "fanny Pack" and would put her treasures in them for our trips to the mall, park and Disney World. The leash let all of us have a good time. I actually had people come up and ask where I got it. The Newborn did not need one - different situation by the time she was walking. I never judge others as they are the only ones that know what works for their family.
Berwyn Neighbor September 09, 2012 at 10:08 PM
What an interesting discussion. Why do we use leashes? To keep our animals safe? So are you suggesting that using a "leash" on a child is for any other reason? I had 3 little ones. I pushed the stroller with the baby, and the two toddlers had these hand-tethers attached to the stroller. They typically held on to the stroller, but life can get pretty boring when you are marching in tandem, so the tethers let them feel a little bit free. We had a "hands only" rule on streets and parking lots, but my kids knew from the time they could understand language that my first rule was KEEP SAFE. They never objected to anything I suggested to make that happen. In fact, I was the first person to take a car seat on an airplane so strap my child in. I wrote to the secretary of transportation (Elizabeth Dole) and complained that I was not allowed to have my purse in my lap on an airplane, but was expected to have my child there. And that two children didn't fit there. And that it would be illegal not to put those flying children in a car seat when we left the airport. Well == she agreed. The FAA came to my home and inspected my child safety seats and put FAA Stickers on them. And my kids knew once again, STAY SAFE meant whatever it takes. My dog minds me too...but when we go for a walk, I don't take any chances. Stop judging people. Think outside the box. Our children -- and our pets -- are precious.
CC September 10, 2012 at 12:45 AM
I'd rather have a leashed child instead of a squished child. Kids dart and no amount of discipline can prevent them from doing so. We love our dogs enough to prevent them from running in harm's way, so what's wrong with doing the same for your own child? FWIW, I do not leash my kids, but would NEVER rule it out if needed or judge a parent who does. They are doing it out of love.
JnJWork September 10, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I agree that you need to use your discretion with this one and watch judgement. Especially in a place like Disney World or large crowded area where a child could be snatched quickly, I never judge the use of extra cautionary devices. In a blink of an eye even with the most watchful parents a tragedy could occur. used before age 3, this will not even be a memory for the kid developmentally.
Anne T September 10, 2012 at 06:07 PM
I have four childre and nevn and used a harness and a leash with one. He was a climber and never sat still. He would not hold your hand . I had a newborn when he was 18 months old and could not control him and hold the baby as well when we went out shopping. Rather than sit at home and never go out, or go out and risk his getting kidnapped or injured, the harness and leash was the best alternative. Worked like a charm and the best of both worlds. I got stares and tongues clucking, but walk a mile in my shoes...
kithg September 10, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Ah, Broomall Mom and others who know everything and are happy to judge others. I thought like you once. My first child was perfectly fine as we walked anywhere. Held my hand with no objection, and was so rational about keeping safe that other mothers used to comment on it to their own (presumably less amenable) children. I was at that time horrified when I saw children on harnesses and leashes. "How can that mother do that," I thought, "when all she has to do is explain it sensibly to the child? Humph." Then my second came along. More energy than an adult can even imagine. Dashed down the Court in King of Prussia and disappeared into Strawbridges before I could catch up with her. Snatched her hand away and bolted into Haverford Ave. in Narberth a couple of times. I bought a harness. I pretty yellow one. Turned out she liked playing doggie. Loved the harness. Never dashed into traffic again. Best of all, she's 21 now and never got hit by a car because her mother was too concerned about how it looked to put her in a safety harness. You tailor your mothering style to suit the child, not the other way around.
Kathy September 13, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Sixty years ago my mom tried to leash me. I never darted into traffic but i did tend to get distracted by flowers, cracks in the sidewalk, or bugs and would "get lost" on family outings. I promptly dropped to all fours and barked just like my sister in fur. Mom gave up on me. 5 years later we did use one on my sister who would not hold hands and did dash into traffic and strange stores. We both have raised our own children and have delightful grandchildren now. If a tether works for you and your child, i say it is no one's business but yours!
Lisa Hudson September 14, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I couldn't agree more, people are too quick to judge others with no information about their particular child's temperament. If you are blessed to have a child who is easily controlled with words, great for you. Speaking as a mom of two grown children, one of whom was extremely impulsive as a toddler I say mom/dad is the best judge of their own children and others should butt out!
Bob Trent February 17, 2013 at 03:56 PM
I am very pro leash/harness, tether, whatever you want to label it, if needs be, or the need arises at some time. I can't fathom anyone who would not take steps to keep their young ones safe, only because some other person, or person's say it looks bad. Would you not put your young child in a crib, just because someone said it's a baby cage? Do you think someone is a lazy inattentive parent, because they put their child in a highchair and lock them in to it? Of course there are extremes, when people go over the top, but that isn't the fault of the device. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and do what they think is right to bring their children up safely. And you know what else, if there is a situation where a leash/harness is used by a parent who is outright lazy, or inattentive, so be it. Because it is allowing the child to remain in some sort of safe zone. I rather see a kid kept on a leash, with a lazy parent, than a leash free child lost, without their lazy parent. The leash is just a tool. So, don't sweat it so much, ether way. Oh, and by the way. I had a leash that kept me safe in the yard for a time. I don't think it sacred me any which way. It does allow me to reflect, and think it's no big deal. I had a cage (crib and playpen), and locking chair (highchair), too.
Danielle February 17, 2013 at 05:19 PM
You know years ago when my best friend had her first - she leashed her daughter. Why ( this is why u are all too quick to judge) my friend was going deaf and was terrified as a mom of loosing her when she was in malls etc
edufan February 18, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Parenting comes with no handbook. Parents need to do what is right fortheir children. The others who brag about not using a tether, I day good for you becuase it was good for you. For those who chose to use a tether, I also say good for you for the same reasons.
Richard Weisgrau February 19, 2013 at 01:34 AM
@edufan, so right.

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