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Parents Talk: Should Parents Use Leashes for Kids?

Do you think harnesses/leashes are a safety necessity or demeaning to children? Share your opinion in this week’s parents talk.

Every time I see a child on a leash, or safety harness as others call it, I cringe a bit.

For some reason, it always reminds me of someone walking a pet.

Sure, the harnesses may come disguised as a cute, little fuzzy animal backpack.  To me, it seems like the leash doesn’t help teach the child what they really need to know – not to run away from their caregiver.

As a parent of two kids, I get it. Toddlers like to make a dash for it when you least expect it. I don’t even think they know where they’re going most of the time, they just like to run – and watch their mom, dad or caregiver chase them.

For me, I was never tempted to control a child with a harness or leash. Hand holding, strollers, carts or carrying - along with teaching the importance of staying by mom and dad - ended up being my solution.

I’m not alone in my anti-leash parenting policy. In an April 2011 piece on Parents.com, the writer expressed her viewpoint on children harnesses/leashes by writing “Leashes are for dogs. You wouldn’t put your child in a crate, or let him poop on the sidewalk, right? If you have a bolter, invest in a cheap umbrella stroller with a buckle.”

On the flip side, Huffington Post blogger Charlotte Hilton Andersen shares her advocacy for a child leash, writing “The leash has been a lifesaver for us. There is a year or two where children are old enough (and coordinated enough) to run away very quickly and yet are too young to fully understand and comply with all the rules of inhabiting public places.”  For many parents, they feel using a leash/harness for a child it is a matter of safety.

Parents, what do you think? Would you or do you use a harness or leash for your child? Why or why not? Do you think harnesses/leashes are a safety necessity or demeaning to children? Share your thoughts in comments!

Editor’s note: Parents – are you interested in blogging about parenting or another topic? Contact your local Patch.com editor for how to get started!

rob_h78 June 03, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Thanks for the posting. Funny how things keep coming back around if enough time goes by.
Dennis Ingolfsland June 03, 2012 at 12:53 PM
If we must stop using child safety harnesses just because they remind some people of leashes, what's next? Should we stop using seat belts on children because they could remind some people of the restrains used on the criminally insane? In my humble opinion, it is a bit insane to sacrifice a child's safety because of a label (leash).
Misti Baldwin June 17, 2012 at 04:02 AM
If you think seeing a child on a leash makes you cringe, I can promise you the idea of my autistic child bolting out into traffic & being killed by a car as I watch helplessly makes me cringe a whole lot more. And furthermore, I refuse to neglect my child's safety because of some stupid social stigma that has become associated with them over the years. They are called child safety harnesses because that's their function, to protect the kids, nothing more or less. Seriously, instead of cringing the next time you see a child in a harness (because, believe me, we get plenty of that) why don't you smile and say hello. There's a good chance that parent making the best choice for the child!
Diane Siegler Fritz August 25, 2013 at 03:20 PM
parents should be applauded, not criticized for keeping their child safe. I have an autistic child. I have no choice. She is a runner. Discipline and holding her hand safely are not enough. In Europe it is a non-issue. Safety is not supposed to be pretty. We put leashes on dogs to keep them safe. We put leashes on kids to keep them safe. Who cares what it looks like. Kids don't like it, but in the long run...they don't mind. Kids feel secure when an adult thinks of their safety.
David F August 26, 2013 at 12:44 AM
Having owned large dogs and being a parent I can understand why people might want to use a lease, I occasionally wished I had one for my children. But as an owner of 2 active dogs that were on leashes most of the time leashes can be problematic if they get caught on something (snagged) or somebody gets in between you and a running dog (or child). A leash could also for a variety of reasons be pulled hard causing a child to fall. I am not opposed to leashes on kids but they shouldn't be a substitute for parenting.

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