Kid Harnesses

I just bought one, for my two-year-old, you know, those things that look like leashes? haven’t had the opportunity to use it yet, but it seemed like a good idea. I know my child, and I know that if given even a split-second opportunity, she will bolt on me. She doesn’t like strollers, and really hates shopping carts. I can’t carry her, because I’m eight months pregnant now, and it’s very hard on my back. So is slouching to hold her hand.

I put this post in the GD forum because I know some people are very pro kid-leash, and others who are rabidly anti. I’d like to hear more opinions, and any info from those who may know more facts, like are they dangerous and why, etc.


I am kinda in the middle on this one. Please, do not take any bit of what I am about to say personally.
I have always felt that physical methods of child discipline (be they spanking, leashes, medication) or whatever are a problem twice:

  1. They are an “easy” way out. I really understand that raising children is the hardest thing on the planet. No other activity even comes close. But there are other methods of controling children that do not involve physical restraint or physical force.

  2. They reinforce certain attitudes and behaviors in children that I think may not be ultimately good for the child. At the age when a lot of these things are used with children, is also the age when children are the most impressionable. Any thing that happens to them is bound to set up the rest of their lives. Children are naturally curious at this age, and tend to get into messes, not for being mischievous, but merely over being curious. All of these methods teach children that they are not to be held responsible for their own actions. I am not saying that children be given free reign, but I am saying that we can teach children to exercise restraint “internally” rather than relying on external forms of restraint on their behavior.

This does not mean that leashes, if used sparingly and only in certain situations, are necessarily detrimental, but children who remain on a leash from the age of 1 until 6 during all of their waking hours have become accustomed to external forms of restraint on their behavior, and have little incentive to develop their own sense of self control.

My response: Go ahead and use a leash, it’s your kid and you have to spend 18 years with him/her. But be very conscious of all of the issues that factor into your child’s development.

Jason R Remy

“No amount of legislation can solve America’s problems.”
– Jimmy Carter (1980)

Jayron, thanks for your well-thought-out response, and I do mean that sincerely. Let me clarify a couple of things, though. The leash is NOT going to be used as a disciplinary tool. It will not be used inside my home for any purpose. It’s simply to give both of us a little more freedom when we’ve got some walking to do, like while we’re grocery shopping. I would never, ever consider leashing my daughter as a form of punishment, or while we’re visiting the grandparents, or anything other than a walking trip. The harness, BTW, also came with a wrist strap, so that the child doesn’t have to actually wear a harness, just a loop around the wrist. I’ve been thinking that might be a little better. But you pointed out some very good stuff, Jayron, and I do appreciate it. Thanks again!

Cristi – I was rabidly anti-leash…until I had kids who could run away at a moment’s notice. :slight_smile:

I am still pretty much anti-leash, but I now better understand why some people use them. I still would (and will) not. Our three-year-old knows that if he bolts off, he is going to get in major trouble, including losing future visits to the mall (where he loves to go) and not being able to go on the elevator (a better toy than the merry-go-round in the center of the mall).

I do not think that it is the child who is on the leash. I think it is the parent. The leash is just a way for the child to signal which direction he or she is going in, so that the parent can be alerted to follow.

Thank you, as well, Cristi for your well thought out response to my response…

By discipline, I mean the traditional usage of the word, “control of behavior” and not the modern misusage of “punishment.” I am using it as one would use “The troops are well disciplined.”

I see no real problem in using a leash as one would use a stroller, and indeed, for a very small time period, and in limited settings, it would serve much the same purpose. But if a child is kept on the leash whenever it leaves the house, it learns : “I cannot be trusted when I am out in public.” As a result, he/she can become dependant on the leash as the only means of preventing him/her from running off. The child who is not given the freedom to choose whether to run off or not never learns to make the right choice. (the right choice being NOT to run off) Like any other child rearing method, it is important to “wean” the child from the leash so it can learn to control it’s own behavior. Otherwise, there is a danger that the child will not know how to make its own decidions, and will have trouble internally controling its own behavior.

Jason R Remy

“No amount of legislation can solve America’s problems.”
– Jimmy Carter (1980)

I was on a leash, and look how good I turned out. My mother was verbally attacked in a shopping center once (so the story goes). My mother responded, ‘You have six kids and tell me about it.’ I was usually leaning forward, straining like a hyper active setter at the end of the leash.

I was wild and had a thing about looking under the skirts of mannequins, hauling ass up and down escalators, and escaping to the four corners of the store universe whenever possible.

So I was told. Go for it. The leashes are for getting through a phase. Your little one may have the heart of a true explorer.

My son is only 16 months old, not old enough to realize he is on a “leash” on the rare occasions we have used it. It is far better than the alternative, him running into traffic, etc. He has far more
freedom than being forced to hold my hand. And outside on a hot day hands get sweaty, he could slip out pretty quickly, and the kid is fast, especially considering he was born with club feet requiring corrective surgery at 4 months of age.

I’m thinking when he is a little older I will find a way to fasten the leash to my belt. I will explain to him that he is not being led around like a dog on a leash, we are just tied together so we don’t get separated. Like mountain climbers, tied together for mutual benefit.

when you have multiple children (which I do), it can be a real challenge to take all of them safely out into the world. I once had one escape from me in Walmart and after several minutes of panic, alerting the store personel, etc…he was located…watching me look for him…Kids have no idea what is out there lurking…afterall, they are kids and everything is a game…even watching their parents have a stroke.

I say it’s ok for leashes on kids if it saves a kids life.

pro leash here…

first kid…no problem, would hold my hand, would NOT run off.

second kid…total monster! :slight_smile: he would not not! hold my hand, and if I tried to hold his hand against his will, I was scared I would dislocate his arm! So I got a leash, even though I had been anit leash until then.
What a difference! I could take him out for a walk, and I didnt worry about loosing him.
He is 4 nowand he is fine, no leash, no problem holding hands, but he will still wander off-(wander my ass, try bolt like a greased pig) if left even briefly unattended.

My point such as it is…every kid is different, in your situation-pregnant- you have two options, 1.stay home, or 2. get the leash.
he wont remember it anyway, its no worse than a playpen, and I think as a society we spend way too much time worrying about the long term ramifications of being a tough parent.

If a child on a leash thinks enough about it to bother him, he is just as likely to come to the conclusion that he should behave as he is to think

yes, children are impressionable…lets not give them the impression that we will bend to their demands.
the most important issue is of course safety, but it is not the only issue…using a leash, is a good way to demonstrate that the child doesnt always get what they want.

JoeBlank, the “tied together for mutual benefit” thing is exactly the phrase I was looking for, but couldn’t seem to find at the time I wrote the post. Thanks!

My daughter does have the heart of an explorer. It can be very charming at times, but other times, it’s damn scary. She’s a bright, assertive little thing, qualities which will serve her well in adulthood, and I don’t want to stifle them now…well, not too much anyway…she can be VERY assertive, if you know what I mean… :wink: She was named after the Goddess, after all.

I used to think harnesses were cruel & unusual…them I gave birth to this “spirited” little thing. When I told my (very assertive) mother that I’d bought one, my mom said “You know what I think about those things? I wish I’d had them for you & your brother, that’s what I think. Good idea.”

I think I’m going to try the wrist thing first. I think she’ll be okay with that. I hope. Please…let her be okay with that…her tantrums are something else… :slight_smile:

Glad I could help, Cristi. As far as the wrist thing goes, if she is as “spirited” as you say, be very careful. At an early age bones and ligaments are softer, it takes little pulling to dislocate a shoulder. I have also heard that the elbow can partially separate, then slip back unnoticed, but can pinch a nerve. I’m no medical expert, so check up on this yourself, or maybe some Doper who knows more can help us.

Thanks Joe! I was hoping someone would give me some medical tips. I’ve never heard of any kids actually being physically hurt by wearing them, but now I at least know a few things to watch for. :slight_smile: