Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mommy rant: What is up with kids on leashes?



This is actress Milla Jovovich and her daughter/pet, Ever. I came upon the photo when I was flipping through the latest US Weekly. I believe the leash is officially called a "child harness."

Lately, I feel like I'm seeing more and more of them. This weekend, Sabrina and I were trolling the aisles of Costco when a kid on a long leash zoomed around me, and I got caught in it. "Mommy! Dogs have those!" Sabrina proclaimed. "Yes, doggies do have leashes!" I answered as this dad glowered at me then had to run (literally, his child was off again).

I realize some kids are hard to control. But I think it's wrong to restrain any child this way. Even if you use a cute leash, like the $10.99 Cow Buddy Harness from Target (pet child not included).



Where do you stand on the child leash controversy?

2014 UPDATE TO THIS POST
I wrote this post five years ago, months after I first started this blog. If I were to write this now, I'd have the awareness I lacked back then that there are children with poor impulse control who need leashes for their own safety, along with kids who have autism and ADHD. I deeply apologize for being so judgmental. It's impossible to know why a parent you see in public is using a leash, since many disabilities are invisible. I do hope parents who use them have a valid reason.


Jovovich photo by GSI Media

64 comments:

  1. I tried one once because I was frustrated with Evan wandering off and not listening to me when I also had a little baby (his brother harry) to worry about. It so did not work. His balance was so awful at the time that every time he hit the end of the leash he would fall over making me look like an awful mother. I just ended up getting it into his brain that he needed to stay hear by and that he could not wander off to look at something shiny. No leashes for us! I think that for the most part patenting can take care of most wandering issues.

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  2. I HATE THESE THINGS!! It takes everything in me NOT to say something when I see people using them. I would like to say to them sometimes...."afraid of human contact...hold your childs hand, don't treat them like an animal" Yes yes, I know they do it for safety reasons, so the child doesn't get away. GET CONTROL of your child and teach them to stay by you!

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    1. One thing I've learned as a mother is not to be judgmental. You do what you need to do in order to keep your baby safe. And if the solution is a leash, or a chip underneath his skin (sort of extreme), I'll do it. The matter here is not about what a stranger things of me, the matter here is that my baby is next to me, doesn't get lost, and I always know where he is if we are on a busy place, an airport, or a store, or wherever is hard to just try to teach him control. There are kids that are easy to control, others are not. And they are brothers! Is not that I'm out of control, or that my baby rules in the house. Is not. I hold my baby hands all the time, I kiss him every second that I can, I hug him in my arms every night and don't want to put him on his crib cause it's such a pleasure to look at him and feel him breathing.... I'm not afraid of human contact, believe me. I'm just afraid of loosing him even if it's just for a second.
      So you know what? next time, when you see a mommy using one of these, think about that feeling you get when you don't see your child for a second: PANIC - and then tell me again how much you hate these things.

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    2. Never used 1..but THANK YOU!!! I will do WHATEVER to keep my son safe!

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  3. I think honestly that it depends on the child. I had a very scary experience once where a little girl with Downs Syndrome whose father had her on a leash jerked the end out of his hand and ran into the street directly in front of my car, which was traveling at around 30 miles an hour. I had just enough time to swerve to miss her, and ran up onto the median, grazing a telephone pole on the way. If she hadn't taken that extra second to pull the leash out of his hand, I would have hit her.

    I talked with her very shaken parents, and they said she was also autistic and had absolutely no concept of danger and not only would struggle wildly if she had her hand held, but had figured out how to get out of her stroller. The harness and leash idea had worked out really, really well for them in the past, but the problem now was that she was getting too strong for them-- they were hoping to get a service dog to keep her safe as they were having a harder and harder time doing it.

    So in conclusion, if your child has boundary and safety issues, I'm all for it. If you just don't want to keep an eye on your typically developing child, than that's another story.

    ~Jess

    ~Jess

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  4. For an averagely-developing kid, I would probably never use a leash. My mom was paranoid when I was a kid and had me wear one. Didn't scar me for life - I suppose! However, there are situations when one may be called for, like at a busy airport possibly. My son is one heck of a houdini and has always managed to wiggle his way out of straps and seatbelts of all kinds. When he was a toddler, I was a nervous wreck all the time, but didn't put him on a leash. First, I doubt a harness would have stopped him, and second, it's a little bit against the Montessori no-containment ideology that I'm fan of.

    Then again, if he ever got lost, say, in a supermarket, I would probably have locked him up in a cage.

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  5. i have to agree with Connor's Mom on this issue. Buster and his brother can't and don't move very fast or very far from momma, so it's not too hard for me to keep a good eye on them. Sometimes they're so slow and dawdling that they need a prod, not a leash (only kidding--do not shoot me!). And that's not just due to their mobility issues, it's because they love to examine EVERYTHING they come in contact with, no matter how inconsequential.

    My cousin, though, has a kid who's hell on wheels and greased lightning--he's gotten away from her a few times, necessitating the frantic and tearful search through WALMART, the associated hysteria, the 'tsk-tsk' stares of people who think she's irresponsible and we're a bunch of pathetic losers, and visions of John Walsh/America's Most Wanted dancing through our heads. And she's not a bad mom, either, that kid is just a little hellion who can be gone in way less than sixty seconds. I honestly think that the leash might be the ticket for her, especially since she's got another one on the way and her husband is no damn help!

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  6. All I want to know is...do they make them short enough for husbands?

    kate.

    http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/gavinleong

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  7. Aw. Shucks. Even celebrities can't control their kids without leashes. Makes me almost feel like a good parent.
    Personally haven't used a leash for my kids. Not sure that it would work with my terror tot. I think he's too strong and would end up pulling me around. He already walks the dog on her lead and drags her around.
    It does get hard though when you have multiple children to keep close to you.

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  8. I have used one, and I am not ashamed! :)

    Jacob needed one for a short time...this kid got lost, and it isn't due to me being a bad mother. It happens...and for him you had to look away for a second to put something in your purse and he was gone. We did however only use it in a VERY busy place...the airport and for a short time at Disney. He is so short (possible growth hormone deficiency) and I felt it was cruel to have him hold his arm above his head all day long and hold my hand. It gave him a little more freedom to move, and his poor little arm didn't get tired.

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  9. Oh my goodness, Sabrina's comment was perfect! I think you may have a future comedy writer on your hands. I personally never needed a leash for Daniel. Then again, Daniel has hemi and so it was awhile before he was able to run - and when he did, I was just so excited that I could barely bring myself to stop him. Even if he hadn't had hemi, I highly doubt we would have used them. Hubby is also firmly against them. He says that if you treat a child like an animal, he'll act like one. In most cases, I think they're useless; a little parental supervision goes a long way. However, there are certainly exceptions. I have a friend whose son is Daniel's age and has autism. He will take off running without warning, and he's FAST! He's also nonverbal and would run straight into oncoming traffic without flinching. In her case and a few others, I'd take a leash over a horrible tragedy. But those aside, I agree with you - leashes are for dogs, not children.

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  10. I use one sometimes. That being said, I do not think it should take over for having your child hold your hand. When I use one I make my son hold my hand most of the time. In my case I think I have a very good reason for using one. While I am pushing a wheelchair I can not always keep hold of my sons hand. Typically I just use it if we are going somewhere that is bigger or crowded, or that I want to give him some room to explore without totally taking off. It is difficult moving around with a wheelchair and keeping up with a busy child. No I do not use it all the time...but at the same rate I would rather use one and have someone think I was a bad mom than lose my child! If someone said something to me then I would tell them to walk in my shoes.

    Also if someone came up to me and said "hey are you afriad of human contact"...well what kind of human contact is that...being judgemental and butting their nose into other peoples business...well yeah that kind of human contact I need none of!!!!

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  11. child leashes are so degrading--just teach your child how to behave in public and that YOU (the parent) mean business and it seems like there wouldn't be a need for a leash!

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    1. It's not always that simple... Coming from a mom who has a severely autistic son who at 4 1/2 is 65 lbs and doesn't not understand the concept of.staying by my side, and on top of that doesn't like crowds... Think twice before you judge. Not everyone has it as easy as you.

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    2. Thank you anonymous my son is also autistic and adhd and does not listen and doesnf like his hand held when he was younger I used while walking to the store do he wouldn't run into a busy 4 lane road. Also everyone on here judging think before you start spouting off. There are special needs children that NEEDit to be safe like my son.

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    3. Arent you a parent of a kid with extra needs? You should know better then to use words like "autistic" and "special needs children". Its embarrassing, really embarrassing. Also children with extra needs are NOT a thing, they are humans so please do NOT use the words that again. What's more, its BAD grammar.
      Anyway! I'm with ya, I am actually surprised another mom of a kid with extra needs would judge. She should know better, shame on her. Its embarrassing, really embarrassing. I dont use one because my kid with extra needs cant walk fast however I have a friend with a girl with autism, she uses one because that kid can run fast. My girl has CP.

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    4. Im an uncle thinking about getting one of these for my sister as she has a 1 week newborn to look after and a very energetic 2 yr old and stumbled across this doing research, thought id chime in. I used to think the same thing, that leashs are bad and only for parents that cant control their kids. Oh how wrong I was. My sister is an amazing parent, and my newphew is very well behaved, except when I or my sister take him on a walk. He has no concept of the road being dangerous, no matter how many times she disciplines him for dashimg into the road. Its kinda hard to keep hold of a slippery 2 year old while pushing a newborn in a stroller and tending to her as well, so I wouldnt be so quuck to judge.
      In the 20 minutes ive been researching I have run across so many posts filled with very passionate arguments about a multitude of topics, I never knew how controversial the parenting world is. Kudos to you mothers, I always used to scoff when women would say that raising a kid is harder than working a full time job but now I wholeheartedly agree, and realize how mistaken I was. Anyways im sure no one is reading this, but if any of you moms are, give yourself a pat on the back, you deserve it

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  12. I know that a lot of parents with autism are SO hesitant to use them because they are worried about being judged.

    I feel like if you have a kid with elopement issues and special needs it would be the right idea to use one. I know one mom who has a 7 year old with autism and a 2 year old who doesn't. She gets VERY anxious about taking them out alone because her 7 year old runs, fast, and has NO regard for danger. I wonder if a leash for her son would allow her to take them more places.

    I work at a camp where we have 1:1 aids for kids who have these elopement issues, but unfortunately parents don't have that luxury in every day life. So if a child has special needs and is a runner I'm all for it. Safety first.

    and connors mom- ahhh that's so scary! I'm TERRIFIED of a kid running out in front of my car. My dad actually had to grab some little girl who went running for the road. He was on the street corner and her flustered parents were too far behind her. She would have booked it right into the street if he hadn't stepped in.

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  13. Interesting topic. Doesn't really bother me, but I don't use them.

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  14. I don't use one since my kid can't walk, but they don't really bother me either! If it works for your family then really I'm fine. . . Now, if it bothered the kid then that would be a different story.

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  15. Having a child who is like a pinball at warp speed, I can absolutely see that a leash is sometimes a necessary thing. I've never tried one but it's got me thinking.....

    Kasia is very impulsive, doesn't understand danger and takes off on us all the time. People often ask me, "Doesn't she EVER stop???" The answer is no.

    So I guess tying her up in the yard on a leash is out of the question? KIDDING!

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  16. I have never used one, but I am not against them.

    I think some of the people who are against them are assuming a lot about the parent and the child.

    It's like any other judgment of public parent/child behavior. A lot of people get that judgment all wrong.

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  17. I was just thinking about this topic a few days ago. I have a child like the previous commenter; he has a range of disabilities and is impulsive with no regard for his personal safety. He has brain injuries from a virus in utero and we were told it could manifest this way when he was only 3 months old. So I use the cute leash from Target now and then when I want him to experience a little independence but still keep him from getting hurt. In most cases he is now able to get around safely without it, but when we're at a busy place (like our 2nd home, a huge children's hospital that is always bustling) and he wants to be on his own it seems like a doable compromise.

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  18. On the one hand, I can see why you feel the way you do -- but on the other hand, I've learned to never assume you know the whole story.

    Perhaps the mom lost a previous child in a pedestrian accident -- maybe she knows someone who did. Maybe her child is autistic and it's a her child's personal security preference. Maybe the family suffered a near abduction. Maybe the mom in question spent twenty minutes in a department store one afternoon worried out of her mind after her child ran off and got lost in the split-second she looked the other way. Maybe she has tried everything she can think of to keep her child safe and she loves her child so much that she doesn't care how the rest of the world views her decisions... you just never know.

    I've never used a toddler leash myself, but I tend to give people (especially people I don't know from Adam) the benefit of the doubt. Because I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of someone else's judgment. An experience I wouldn't wish on anyone.

    All I see when I see a toddler leash is a mom who loves her child. Just like any other mom and any other child.

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  19. P.S. And Ellen -- Hope you know I adore you even though I have a different opinion ;) You're one of the most awesome mommies I know!

    ~Michelle

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  20. I've done many things that I swore I would never have before I was a parent so generally I try not to judge other parents. I have used a monkey 'leash' on my daughter since she went through a phase where she wouldn't hold my hand (she only has one hand that works properly and hates to give it up) but the leash didn't really work either. I don't really understand the offensiveness of it. We have to do lots of things to our kids that indicate a lack of autonomy on their parts so I don't really see what the difference is. That's my two cents.

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  21. Michelle, NO offense taken! We're all just sharing our opinions here. I didn't mean to seem insensitive, especially to moms here whose judgment I respect. I clearly have not walked (or ran!) a mile in your shoes, and there have been valid points raised here. Fundamentally, I still do not believe in these harnesses. But if it's a choice of a harness or a child's safety, most especially when it is a child with special needs, then I can understand the choice of a harness.

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  22. Hhhm. Well.

    I don't like the way they look.

    I agree with Sabrina. It LOOKS like a dog being taken for a walk.

    However, last year, I seriously considered getting one for my little Bean.

    It's hard when you have one child in a walking frame who can't walk very fast and another child who likes to RUN. Usually in the direction of a lift or escalator or the nearest open door heading to a main road.

    He was too little to be told to stick close and refused to hold my hand so I weighed up the options of getting him a harness or keeping him in the pram when the going got too tough (or fast) for me. I opted for the latter because I decided he'd hate the harness even more.

    However, it did really open my eyes to the possibility that it COULD work for some people and is a better option than having a child in danger. It also opened me even more to the fact that different kids need different solutions. The longer I am a parent, the less I am quick to judge other parents in many situations and for decisions that they make.

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  23. Oh my gosh, Leash Parents are honestly the only group of people I judge...within reason. I completely agree with special needs parents who honestly need them to keep their children from wandering into danger. I completely understand they can't stay focused on their child 100% of the time and their children need the exposure of going out in public!

    However, 95% of the parents I see have them because they can't control their children--or don't want to. Lemmie tell you, I was a hand-holder. And if I ever refused to hold mommy's hand, well, I just never refused again. I always viewed the child-leashes as another way parents wanted to be a "friend" and not a "parent". Because all the "parents" I know enforce the rules, therefore, their children don't need a leash, they listen and know what is expected of them.

    Again, for those parents who have children who truely have no concept of danger or no impulse control, I'm not talking/speaking/thinking of you! And yes, I can tell the difference in the children. I'm InternAlly after all!! :)

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  24. UGHH I agree 100% with you Ellen.. I think Leaches are for dogs and using one is a fast and simple way getting around teaching your child how to behave in public. If you "leash" your child you are not allowing them the opportunity to learn certain social skills and safety lessons. For example...all kids are going to test the parent and see how far they can run away from you in some situation..it's a test of independence or sometimes just a game.. but I feel it's up to us as parents to teach our children that's it's not safe to run away from us in certain situations (ie. running away has a time and place like running at the park is OK ..not so much on a sidewalk or in a mall or in any situation where safety is a concern).

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  25. oops I ended my post too early and evidently before spell check..leaches? haha oops. I wanted to add that I do agree with the retraints if it is for children who have no impulse control.. as noted above. that was a very good point. But for all other circumstances I just don't get the need for them.

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  26. you really shouldn't judge ppl like that... no one considers their child a pet, even as a joke its a horrible thing to say.

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  27. Anonymous, I joke around sometimes. I do. It's my way. I'm sorry if I came across as thoughtless this time around. 50 lashes with a leash for me.

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  28. My daughter has permanent brain damage and a pile of other disabilities that impairs her reasoning, impulsivity, distance perception...well, it impairs nearly everything she does. Yet, she looks like any other child. If I had known about these when we first adopted her as a traumatized and out-of-control 11 yr old, I would have totally used one. We had so many close calls with her running into traffic that I am surprised she is still alive. And yes, we were holding her hand and even had to carry her much of the time...an 11 yr old. You just never know what the situation might be.

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  29. I have no strong opinion on them. Bennett is just starting to walk so it's not something I've thought of. BUT I have seen kids run and take off on their parents - I think that happens to good and bad parents alike. In my case, because of my leg, I wouldn't be able to catch Bennett and that would put him at risk - something I would never want to do. I have often thought of what I'll do when he starts to run (which I really hope he'll be able to do some day). I may have to resort to a restraining device if I want to go out with him. It's sad to think that people would think I was a bad parent because of that.

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  30. No big opinions here. My daughter is non-ambulatory. I would love to have a personally vested reason to feel one way or the other...but I'm just trying to get through the day. I say live and let live.

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  31. I DID use a leash on my Max when he was 2. I travelled alone with two kids (and pregnant) on a plane with a connecting flight. I was afraid that no matter how he minded me at home something crazy would happen. I have the monkey version of the backpack/harness you have a photo of. It was really more for my peace of mind. He did pull against it and once tipped over because of it. I think he would have done fine without. Honestly I don't believe in them in everyday situations. I really think parents should have better control of their kids, or strap them in the cart, or don't bring them to the store at all. Parenting is about discipline.

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  32. I actually don't have a problem with them at all and am surprised how many commenters here are against them. I have 18 month old twins and although don't use one yet, probably will. Daniel is getting more and more mobile and Ben has CP...so likely will use one for Daniel when I'm out with both of them. I really think they're fine.

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  33. Like many other commenters, I think it depends on the child and the situation. I have a 2 year old and a 14 month old - up until now, I've been able to carry the youngster in a baby carrier when we go out. Now, however, he's at the age where he wants to get down and walk. There are times when I just can't be sure I'll be able to "control" both of them, and I'd rather have people think I was a horrible parent than risk having one get distracted and lost. That said, I haven't resorted to one yet. . .the last thing I need is another piece of equipment. :)

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  34. Just not for me. I don't judge others who use them...it's not for me to judge, I don't know their situation. BUT, for me, no.

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  35. Yes, I recently sent a VAL(very angry letter) to essortment.com on a post they wrote. It was probably written by lazy, neglectful mothers who have no ability for responsibility. See the article here: http://www.essortment.com/all/childrenleashes_rvjf.htm

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  36. For me harnesses are only appropriate on kids with special needs. That's my opinion. I have a 2, 3, and 4 year old and I fantasize about putting them on harnesses but I believe it's my responsibility to teach them how to listen to me and behave. I also believe I might be tempted to use it as a choke chain when they are being awful.....just kidding.

    I wrote about this subject on my blog too and was surprised at the mixed comments I got, I thought for sure everyone would agree with me! In the 1970's when I was growing up if you saw a kid on a leash you bet some adult would make a nasty comment.

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  37. I think the unless you have a medical reason for needing it, if you use it your a lazy parent.

    Did your parent use one? No? I bet they spanked you if you ran off or acted up in public. Be a parent not a friend.

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  38. I love leases. They are so great, I use one for my Vicky. She's so little and runs really fast. I'm always worried that if we're playing in the front yard I wont be able to keep my eye on her for every second. I'm worried for her safety and that she might run into the street.


    BTW Vicky is my DOG.

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  39. Its not like a dog, nor is it okay to allow your child to roam free while he has one on. I use a leash for my kid because sometimes he squirms and lets go of my hand. In crowds, I'm not willing to take the chance that my imperfect 2 year old is going to stay within my sight if he gets free. He holds my hand when we walk. I'm not interested in losing my kid. Maybe some of you have perfect parenting skills and perfect children, but my kid throw temper tantrums, gets cranky and runs toward Elmo. I think he should still get to walk around.

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  40. Leashes have been around a very long time and have always been controversial. We used one with our now 26 year old daughter. While I understand that some parents choose to use one because they don't have control of their child, please don't lump all parents together. I had people walk up to me and say we were being cruel to our child. Our response was usually "which is more cruel - to confine her to a stroller where she will scream until she is removed from it or give her the ability to move around within a controlled space." We did work on teaching her to hold our hands but when she managed to disappear in a department store we didn't feel that was the complete answer. The harness was used intermittantly for several years. We used it less with her little brother because he would ride calmly in the stroller. For a while there was a product on the market with a plastic coil between two wrist bands. One band had an extra loop to go through that made it difficult for toddlers to remove. We used that when we needed to keep up with two very mobile preschoolers in crowded places such as amusement parks. Harnesses have a place but like any parenting aid can be overused.

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  41. As the mother of two developmentally disabled children (one of them somewhat older - gradeschool), I do put my disabled children on the cuddly-type leashes. The girls pick them out themselves. For my autistic child (1st grade), the leash provides a sense of security FOR HER. She is afraid of being lost, but wants freedom of movement that being put in a stroller does not provide. The leash is her connection to me and a simple reminder of where we are at all times. To a child that struggles with awareness of the situation, being connected provides her with a feeling of safety. It also lets me rest assured that she has not unintentionally wondered off (especially important in very crowded places).

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  42. My 18 month-old son is strong and fast, and while I don't want to use a harness with him, I do have the Target monkey one. He loves wearing it as a backpack, but isn't so fond of it when I attach the tail, usually because he knows it means that he isn't going to get away with anything. I don't use it as a leash. His hand is in mine just about all the time, but there are times when he has been able to pull away, and just last month he got away from me and his father and ran through a crowd and into traffic. It's amazing how people just step out of the way when a child is running at them, rather than stopping him as he flies off the curb. His older brother has multiple disabilities and uses a wheelchair, which I push, and I remember during pregnancy envisioning the three of us on lovely walks in the park, me pushing the chair and my littlest one walking alongside, amusing us with his new discoveries. Shattered fantasies. Unbelievably, he runs faster than me and his father, his fascination with wheels leads him into parking lots and the street, he is so fearless that he actually laughs at the nurse when getting shots and if he falls off the sofa or the jungle gym he will climb up and intentionally fall off again just to see if he can improve on his landing.
    At Disneyland I once saw a child with a harness get away from his father and jump off the bridge in front of one of the castles. His father was able to catch him thanks to the harness. My thought at the time was, 'My child will never be like that.' Well, my youngest child is healthy and typical and he is like that. I never wanted to be the parent with the child in a harness, but if it will protect my child's life then I don't care what anyone thinks of me.

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  43. This all seems a little judgemental to be honest. One can't always tell by appearance alone if a child has a disability and might sprint off unexpectedly. Also, its not about restraining the child necessarily, its about having a better chance of keeping your baby, should someone run by and grab them. In airports where there are lots of people or at outdoor events where there are no doors to lock down, shouldn't parents have the right to protect their baby and know the ENTIRE time where they are, and not be judged by those who feel they are better parents? The "leashes" come in cute monkey or other animal type backpacks that children enjoy. People simplify their arguments by comparing it to a dog leash. Some people are just terrified of losing their baby, which happens all the time. Babies have rights like all people, but is there really a chance that a person who was never kidnapped as a child will grow up to resent their parents for restraining them when they were two?

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  44. Great blog by the way.

    I always thought leashes looked silly and funny. I always wondered why parents had their kids on leashes?

    Well I am about to purchase my first leash because my son is soo active and runs everywhere. While we've taught him not to run off without us and he listens well, he is still always "on the move." And we've had a few "oh no!" moments that have been scary.

    My main deal for getting one is for the airport when I'm traveling just with him. I think it's wise to help protect him and have some more control.

    I'm not really hung up on the debate cause I'm more concerned about what I think is best for him. :) Thank you.

    www.samanthakrieger.com

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  45. I followed a link to your blog and am deeply moved by your stories of Max.

    But I can't resist commenting on the toddler-leash issue.

    I think it's bizarre the way so many people seem to be bothered by kids on leashes! I used one with my very active second child (back then they didn't even have the cute ones with animal backpacks), and my daughter uses one with her son. They are incredibly useful for airports, zoos, and any kind of lengthy excursion where a kid wants to wander but you cannot let him or her get out of your sight for even a second -- especially if you have stuff to carry as well as the child to keep track of. They were common in Europe when I was a kid. Anywhere where people regularly use public transportation with toddlers, you'll likely run into parents using toddler leashes.

    Lots of toddlers don't like to be held by the hand all the time. Lots of parents haven't always got an available hand to use exclusively for holding a toddler, especially a toddler who doesn't want to be held. What on earth is offensive about giving a curious child a little more autonomy, and giving oneself more flexibility in the use of one's hands?

    It's just a matter of what you are used to seeing. Consider: if you had never seen children strapped into carseats for hours on end, you might be horribly offended by the idea of TYING DOWN an active toddler.

    There is NOTHING abusive about a toddler on a leash: it's just the association you have with pets. Get over it.

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  46. I used the cute backpack leashes with my twins when they were learning to walk. It gave them a great sense of independence actually as they did not need to constantly hold my hand. We are an urban car-free family mind you so we do/did A LOT of walking... I thought they were great and my kids loved them. It made all of us much more relaxed about the whole process. P.S. Neither of them were ever "runners."

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  47. For a blog that brings in a lot of parents of kids with special needs as commenters, I'm shocked by the number of judgmental comments. I know this is an older post so no one will probably see this comment anyway, but how do any of you know that the majority of parents using harnesses have typically developing children and are just lazy parents who don't want to control their kids?!

    My son looks typically developing on the outside, but he has autism and runs faster than I can. When we're in a safe place and there are 2 adults (I have an infant son as well, so I have to be careful when I'm out alone with both kids), we'll let our son hold our hand or walk a bit ahead of us. At least then there is an adult to run and try to catch him if he bolts. But when I'm alone with the boys, or when we're somewhere crowded? I definitely use "doggy backpack."

    Not every moment of every day is appropriate for a "teaching moment" and spanking my child isn't going to teach him anything, especially as we're trying to teach him to quit hating his baby brother. M recently bolted from his grampa and tripped and fell in a little pond. There was no drowning risk as it was quite shallow, but things can happen in the blink of an eye like that and next time it might be the street or in front of a car instead.

    Beyond kids with special needs, have any of you considered that the PARENT might have a disability? I do. It's another reason I use the harness. I am not very fast because of my illness. That doesn't make me lazy.

    Many of you may say "well, it's ok if such and such a parent uses them, but not the others" but in most cases, you aren't going to know that parent and child's backstory. None of us want our kids judged, or our parenting judged...it's hard enough having to deal with our children's special needs already. Please, cut parents who use harnesses a little slack!

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  48. We had one for our younger son when we were walking high in the hills and there were dangers of falling off cliffs. We felt that was justified, given his tendency to run off and lack of any sense of danger at that age... He could run around when we knew we were away from cliffs, but we could keep him safe when there was danger.

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  49. I used to be one of those people that rolled my eyes at kids on a "leash." Until I had my youngest daughter.
    She is 4, she is autistic, she has NO sense of danger or consequence, and she is fast and squirmy. I would much rather let her wear her monkey backpack (with conveniently long tail for me to hold on to)than have her sprint into traffic before I can blink.
    It is not about control, it is about safety. Just because someone looks "normal" doesn't mean that everything is as it seems.
    I am shocked by the attitude on here towards people and situations that are unknown.
    Please, before you judge, stop and think. It could be you in a couple of years.

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  50. Before I had kids I thought that they were awful. But we had great luck using one for therapy for our son. He liked using his walker at home but hated it outside. So I'd use it on walks to keep him from hitting his head with his oh so many falls. I had more than a few people give me the 'what's your problem lady' looks probably because it isn't easy to tell that he has his various diagnosis by looking at him. I kind of wanted to slap people for judging me to be really honest. For me, it's a miracle that our son is alive let alone that he stands and even walks! His harness/leash helped get him to the point of being an independent walker. So I absolutely love them. Although, I totaly respect that they could be overused!

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  51. Ellen, if my mother hadn't used a leach I would be on the other side of the world by now. I had absolutely no sense of boundaries and no fear. Bad combination. Some kids really do need them.

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  52. Have two kids, and both have had leashes. I don't use them all the time- rarely, in fact-but sometimes they are a good option and make sense for us.

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  53. I can't believe the super judgy comments on here regarding leashes or safety harnesses... on a blog about parenting children with special needs.

    My kids has autism, and we use a leash in public places sometimes as a safety net to protect his life. He does not respond to "stop." We do not "have control" over our child. And if parents of special needs children are this judgemental about it, I can only imagine what parents of neuro-typical children think of us.

    Fortunately I do not give a crap. It's too bad so many of you do.

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  54. In 1956 my mother (by herself) took three "normal" children 7 years old and younger on the Greyhound bus from California to New Jersey. My sister was 2 years old and mom had her on a leash for that trip. How do you think you would do traveling this way if the youngest wasn't on a leash? Hmmm... You only have two hands...

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  55. Will Use Leash One Day TooApril 22, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    Wow, so much judgement.
    I used to have to wear a leash. I remember it and I hated it.
    I was well behaved, but I was a child. Children are unpredictable.
    I grew up to be a responsible adult the same way "non leash children" did. It didn't ruin me or prevent me from human contact or developing ethics or whatever else all those judging are frightened about.

    When you live on a very busy street in the centre of a city, take public transport and don't drive everywhere you start to realise the world is a dangerous place for tiny people.

    Stop judging.

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  56. Its a amazing how tiny the human mind is.
    Parents with children who have special needs use these harnesses all the time. It allows them to be safe.
    This blog site is awful esp considering that it is one about a child with special needs

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  57. How about the kids you see using these are not your kid and the parent is using what judgment they feel is best...how 'bout that for a valid reason???

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  58. I know someone who was shopping. Yes her child was very well behaved and always stayed next to her. Mom looked up to get a top or something down. Little girl was less than a foot from her and was looking at a toy behind them and she was snatched that fast. Thankful she was found and now wears a leash. The child wants it from being so traumatized. So I'm buying them for all my grandbabies

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Thanks for sharing!