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Is it ok to use a leash on your child?

by Vee (follow)
Children (252)      Etiquette (55)      Safety (52)     

child on restraint
Image by The Consumerist, via Wikimedia Commons

I remember seeing a woman with her child on a leash as a child myself. At the time, I thought it was terrible.

Now, as an adult with a child, I can definitely see the practicality. Children enjoy roaming free, but that is not an option with hand-holding. I think putting a child restraint on them gives them a little more room to move when in public.

What do you think of a parent who do this? Is it ok to use a leash on your child?

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I am a parent who has used the leash a lot with her child.

Everyone is different and that includes both parents and children. My son is spirited - for which read determined, headstrong, strong-willed, challenging and difficult to manage on occasion..... I have a variety of health conditions that make it difficult or sometimes impossible to lift my son, particularly when he is determined not to be restrained, and I cannot run as fast as him.

So when he reached an age when he refused to go in the pushchair and, frankly, was just too big for it, but was still too young to listen to reason regarding not running away from me in crowds or running headlong into a busy street, the only way I could safely leave the house with him was to use a leash. Staying imprisoned in the house all day every day was not an option and personally I consider that dehumanising in a way that ensuring my son's safety is not.

As for the rather trite saying "leashes are for dogs, not children" - try using a bit of compassion and understanding that not everyone's circumstances are the same as yours. Dogs eat food, does that mean I shouldn't feed my child? Dog owners have to clean up their dog's mess - does this mean I should leave any mess created by my child? No of course not. Why would i care more about the safety of my dog than my child? If I had a biddable child who would reliably always stay with me, or if I was physically stronger, then I wouldn't have needed a leash. That wasn't the case for me or my son and to be judged by people who don't stop to think that they might not know all the facts upsets me.
I completely agree with you, Verity.
Thanks for your positive input, VerityG..perhaps I'll continue pondering on it.
by Vee
Better a child restraint than a dead child. If you haven't had a strong willed child you have NO IDEA.
I had one when a child.
One day my little grandaughter and I were out shopping o.k.
She took off and ran faster than I could catch up.
I mean she took off. BIG TIME.
Being in my mid 50's in those days, I was not very fast.

It was only the luck someone stopped her for me, but it made me see....how easy it is for little ones to get that upper hand.

What if the young Mum is pregnant again?

At 7-9 months, there is no way she could catch her little one running.

As for people who talk about leashes for dogs!

These are ''child harness'' o.k.

The child doesn't have a collar around their neck, the harness is well made so arms go thru.

The one thought I always think about is when little ones are on a very busy street with Mum, and cars are going along, it only takes 2 seconds...and that little one can run on the road...They have no idea of the danger, and you can tell them...but they do forget.
When our child was very young and we were out shopping we used a leash for safety it prevented our son from running off if he was excited at seeing something and wanting to rush over to it, whether it was a small dog or another attraction.
I think it would be good to see leashes re-introduced as a means of control and protection of a child getting hurt by running across a busy road in perhaps rushing to touch a small dog not on a leash.

Great way of making parents responsible for their own children too.
by Rice
Noooo. Leashes are for dogs. I have seen it before and I do not like it at all. I understand that it give the child some running room while the parent is still in control. Isnt there a better way?
by Gia
I don't know. We are taking our son out to a busy family event but don't want to keep him in the pram as that is no fun. Really don't know what to do. :|
by Vee
What would you suggest Gia?
I hesitate to criticise other people's parenting (unless it's obviously abusive) because what works for one family might not work for another. I never liked the idea of leashes for children because it seemed dehumanising, but when my daughter was about two I was at a loss what to do with her when we went out. She used to run off at top speed all the time and I had a couple of close calls stopping her from running into traffic. I tried one of those backpack things with a leash (its shaped like an animal and the leash part is the tail). We used it once and it was terrible. She'd still try to run off and if I didn't let go of the leash she'd fall over and cry, and everyone seemed to be staring and judging, though if I carried her in the sling or stroller I would get lots of comments about how she "should be walking" (no, she doesn't walk, she runs!). I ended up just hardly going out anywhere for a while because travelling anywhere with her was so stressful. So, yeah, I don't like them personally, but if they do work for you I understand doing what you've got to do.
I thought about putting him the sling. I agree with you about the leash seeming dehumanizing. :|
by Vee
I used to be I'm one of them when I was a child, and I have seen lots of children in them before. I think it is a brilliant way to let a child have the freedom to roam about - instead of having to constantly hold a parents' hand or be strapped in a buggy - but preventing them wander off to far. I can't see why it could ever be seen as 'terrible'.
I will be honest. I did not quite like it when I saw it for the first time, but then I won't judge a person who uses it. I would just tell myself that the parents might have a good reason (safety) to use it. It's the parent's choice. Period.
by BK
No judgement but its just not for me and my kids. I have never tried it and now I don't have to cause my youngest is 8 years old! I honestly can't remember seeing them at all when my eldest was a toddler 15-16 years ago.
I used a leash on my child for a time. I have to say I did so when I had exhausted all possibilities. My daughter was a wilfull, independent little lady who as soon as she could walk (9 and half months old), started to run and climb and refusing to stay in her pusher. She worked out how to undo the straps. We had no car, she wanted to walk/run but didn't have any road sense. The old tunnel vision meant that me asking to stop was also a waste of time. If I wanted to keep her safe I needed to resort to the leash. Believe me I felt bad, and I certainly felt like a failure because I couldn't get my child to be compliant like other children and it didn't help my self esteem when I had total strangers berating me in the streets for my cruelty to my child. I gave up defending myself and came to terms with my decision because the possible alternatives (like her running onto the road) were just too horrible to think about. Once she got a bit older I was able to retire the leash.
When a toddler/child, I well remember my harness! I was a 'tearaway', so it was necessary!
We had a harness on ours' when going to very crowded places eg shopping centre or Royal Show. Saves much 'heartbreak' & they don't hurt, as specially made for 'littlies'.

Yes, I remember reading a book not all that long ago about a little English toddler that went off with two older boys and was murdered. His mother only took her eyes off him whilst she asked for some meat at a butchers stall.
I kept thinking about harnesses in shopping malls and what could have been prevented. But I expect that it is more important to consider the child's comfort and whether or not using one makes it appear that you are treating the child like a dog.
by fran.
Fran, I hear what you're saying, but all this ridiculous PC'ism doesn't save a child's life. If James Bulger had've had on a harness, he'd still be alive today.

I NEVER found my harness a discomfort, when I had to wear it. But that was the norm with children up until the 'free' 60's!
In actual fact, at our Royal Show, 'wrist-leads' are given out for free by the Police, at their Stand.
by donjo
Hi Sonjo
Is that the Sydney Royal Easter Show ?
I think they are a great idea (always did). In 2015 -they would seem, to me, to be almost a necessity.
I have never gotten over the story of James Bolger…an absolute nightmare and could have been so easily prevented with a horrible child restrainer. Poor little boy, poor parents, poor future children of those parents, poor grandparents, poor neighbours, poor anyone with a heart. PC correctness - stick it up your jumper.

by fran.
Yes. I wore a harness as a child and my daughter did too.
by Rice
Yes I can see nothing wrong with this apart from the word you have used to describe it. I think it is far safer to have your child restrained than for him/her to run off and get lost or run on to the road.
by Finy
It's definitely a must for keeping independent children close to you. We grew up with using them. I recall one instance when my cousin went missing in Manly because my aunt had forgotten to pack the harness and our families spent a couple of anxious hours trying to find her amongst the people enjoying their day out.
The only ones that ive seen look like dog harnesses. They were the rage when I was younger. I understand mothers using themcas I had a tear away son and a harness would have been useful. If they only made them to look nicer. Ive heard of a wrist to wrist harness but don't know if that is only for prisoners. Mothers have a hard time so to use one for the protection of the child is understanding
Yes, it was common when my child was young in the early 70's.
It was more for safety so that my son was not distracted to run across a road or in Departmental stores.
Bring it back, it is sad to see so many parents letting their children run amok in stores etc.
A great safety tool.

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