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Kids on a Leash: They Don't Bark But They Do Run

Kids on a Leash: They Don't Bark But They Do Run

Kids on a Leash: They Don't Bark But They Do Run

Many people treat their canine companions as if they were their children. It's cute. I get it. But treating your kid like a dog? Um, I am not quite so sure if it works in reverse. Or does it? Certainly kids don't bark, but some bite, and many run with wild abandon.

Proponents of kid leashes say that when properly used, they are an excellent tool for safeguarding against the dangers that shadow toddlers who tend to bolt unpredictably.

Those against using kid leashes say hooking the kids up is a cop-out for inattentive parenting.

So, who is right? Does it truly depend on the parent, the kid and the situation?

It's a hot topic on Circle of Moms, with opinion evenly split between the moms posting in the Debating Mums and Parenting Debates and Hot Topics communities.


Here are some of the thoughts being shared:

"I have no problem with them. They're a tool for safety, and I think there are situations that warrant them for sure," writes Sara B. in the Debating Mums community.

However, her husband disagreed — more like he "absolutely put his foot down," she laments.

"He said he didn't feel comfortable 'treating her like a dog.' I personally think that's ridiculous. We put our dogs on leashes in crowded areas to keep them safe. You're not willing to do that for your child if it's in their best interest?" she asks.

Cassie C. agrees with the safety first argument: "I don't see them (kid leashes) any differently than I see having a baby sleep in a crib or strapped into a high chair or car seat. We use safety devices all the time to keep our children safe. A harness is no different," she states in the Debating Mums community.

But moms who don't think a leash or harness is the best option to protect children from getting into potentially harmful situations argue that the key to keeping kids safe is more attentive parenting.

"I think they're a cop-out for lazy parents, mostly," writes Lyndsay M. "I can understand a single mom with like four kids under (age) five, obviously that would be chaotic and I don't even know how you would go about keeping track of all of them, but it is not too much to ask a parent to watch their one child."

Other moms say leashes are inappropriate for humans.

"A leash is for a dog, not your child! I have an eight-year-old and not once did I ever loose him in a store," posts Melissa B. She said her child was running by the time he was 11 months old. "He knew to stay with me and hold my hand. Kids are quick, and if you keep your eye on them like a good mother is supposed to, then you do not need a leash. I hate (it) when parents use this one their child like they are some kind of animal. If you teach them from the beginning then you do not need one."

If I were judging this as a debate, I'd have to give equal points to both sides.

I never used a leash on my now 13-year-old son. At times in his younger years, he was a definite flight risk. He has Asperger's Syndrome (better known as high-functioning autism). In retrospect, there may have been a few times a kiddo leash might have helped. Mostly, I remember just gripping his little hand as firmly as possible hoping to create an adhesive bond he couldn't break. It didn't always work. When he was four, the little bugger managed to get away from his father and me as we were walking in downtown Anchorage. His urge to explore could not be satisfied between mom and dad on that wide sidewalk, and he headed directly to the moving traffic. It happened instantly. What was a simple walk from the restaurant to the parked car a few blocks away could have turned tragic. My parents were visiting and it was Grandpa who quickly swept the child out of danger.

Last December, we took him to Disneyworld. Even at age 13, I was watching him like a hawk. I made sure he was always in my visual field. Had we taken him at a much younger age, I might well have opted for a kiddo harness/leash or whatever you want to call it. In that fast-paced crowded atmosphere, it would have brought me some peace of mind. And in retrospect, maybe we shouldn't have taken a four-year-old to that swanky restaurant downtown. Knowing our son's tendencies, we should not have been so caught up in the moment and been a bit more alert on that sidewalk. Some of the places and situations that pro-leashing parents feel justified in taking their kids perhaps aren't the most appropriate places for children who are still learning the ins and outs of safety.

Child leashes are a legitimate tool, but not always the best one. Good planning and discretion — knowing your child well enough to anticipate whether you can keep him safe in a particular location — are perhaps even more important.

What do you think of kids on leashes? Would you ever leash your child?

Image Source: The Consumerist via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
EmilyHineline EmilyHineline 2 years

Holding a small toddler's hand all the time is uncomfortable for the child as well as the adult. Try walking around with your hand in 'up' position to hold mom's hand. Now imagine the child dropping to try and get you to let go. If you hang on, you could dislocate their elbow and hurt them (see Nanny's Elbow injury...) if you let go, they could take off running. Now try doing that with groceries in hand. "He knew to stay with me...." bull. Absolute poppycock. At under 3 children have little to no impulse control. Doing time-outs is seen as not effective until they can reason at around 2-3. So you're telling me that an 11 month old (or under 2 year old) can be trusted to stay with momma and hold momma's hand 100% of the time? Of course not. Developmentally, a child under 3-4 cannot be trusted to not dash off after something, say a paper cup, in the street. That child who normally walks with momma is either going to be squashed, give momma a scare, or if they're lucky be stopped short by a harness and tether so momma can correct them gently and teach them not to run off.

And then there's invisible handicaps. That mom you see walking her child on a leash may have been abused and is nervous in crowd situations and needs the reassurance her child cannot go far. That dad you see walking his child on a leash may have a bad back and knows that in a chase situation, his child is likely to run into danger before he can catch them. Know your limitations. I watched a mom stand and yell at her kids to get in the car while they ran round the parkinglot. She couldn't catch them. And I was scared to move my vehicle. If you can't trust them to stay with you, using a tether to hold them closer is only using a tool to help you.

I only used a leash with my first. She's almost 7. She started walking at 10 months (more like running, she didn't know how to stand, so she sort of fell forward and RAN...) We watched her closely, but when they're that small people walk right between you and you can't see that little girl. We had a crowd of texting people once totally miss her dashing between them and running for the escalator when she was around a year old (not even much change, barely a year...) My husband was ready to start body checking to get through them. Thankfully a grandmother grabbed her hand as she reached the escalator and said "no you don't" and held her there for us to catch. After that, she wore a leash. And she LOVED it, she chose it and wore it without the leash part just the harness, picked out a new one a year later, and STILL likes to wear them sometimes because the characters on them are fun.

My other two kids never needed a leash. They were more apt to stay by me, or my oldest was likely to chase them down (she always being the high energy child, they're always playing catch up to her.)

One thing I hate to see though? A parent holding their child's hand 'firmly'. When my daughter broke her arm the first time (2 times so far bless her) they first suspected nanny-elbow. I was able to say that I never hold her hand so hard that if she dropped I might hold her off the ground, because I use a LEASH. They did the x-rays and discovered she had a clean break of both bones in her forearm (how it stayed in place, only the angels know.) Holding a child's hand so tightly they can't get loose is not safe. It can hurt them. Hands are delicate, the arm and elbow are delicate, and if you let them go then that child may run off, but if you hang on you could hurt them. I used to hold children's hands so tightly they couldn't get loose, but I never would now because I'm nervous about hurting them. If you want to hold hands, please put a belt-loop tether on them so if they refuse you aren't fighting with them and they can't run off.

SusanWainwright SusanWainwright 2 years

I think the people who disagree do not understand what it's like to have a child where you have to be ON all the time. No chance to find peace in your day...and as the above example said it was a simple walk to the car that could have been tragic all because they weren't 100% switched on at that moment. My 7 yr old was the perfect cautious kid and understood safety and to stay with mum..... But my 5 yr old has no safety skills and I have brought them up the exact same way....... So the safety harness is essential for her.

SusanWainwright SusanWainwright 2 years

When people look in disgust we should say...."well I wanted to get her out of her cage today for a run" ha ha

SusanWainwright SusanWainwright 2 years

My choice with my disabled special needs 5 yr old is either to not take her out with me on errands or put her on the leach. And I WANT to bring her with me. She will only learn safety She will only learn safety if I give her the chance to come with me. But because my eyes have to be on her 100% of the time! I can't even look away to select the bread and milk etc So this is when I hold the reins while I take my eyes off her. Some people may say put her in a trolley...but we are at our local shops which means walking from shop to shop, and because of her disability I need to give her lots of walking time to practice her skills. She also loves men and would think nothing of going off with a stranger. I am confident enough to explain my use of reins to anyone who looks down their nose. It's called empathy people.!!!! :)

MeggyRobertson MeggyRobertson 4 years
I used reins, they worked with my sons when they were toddlers. They saved our sanity and kept my kids safe. Both my sons are hyperactive, and I did not feel it was acceptable to let them run around wild in shops and run across roads.My youngest hated holding hands, he felt less constrained on reins. It is better than dumping them in a pushchair all the time - now that IS lazy parenting. I don't get the comparison with dogs - yes dogs are on leashes, so are kids - what is the big deal? Why would anyone feel that it's wrong to put reins on kids just because dogs wear them? We restrain our kids all the time - in cars, in pushchairs - surely reins give them MORE freedom? We cannot hold our kids hands ALL the time. It isn't practical, and some kids like my son hate it. A rein slipped round my wrist gives me freedom to use both hands, and my child limited freedom to move around. Kids can run off at any time. My youngest still runs off he is 6. He has behavioural issues (ADHD). Sometimes I feel that I would love to put him in reins again, but he is too old now! I used reins bacause I love my kids and wanted to keep them safe. Some kids need reins, some don't. Let parents decide for themselves. whether their kid needs restraining. Mine did, for their own safety and my sanity.
LisaLafayette LisaLafayette 4 years
I am pro-leash and my child might not be alive if it weren't for that safety device. My son has trouble focusing and following directions and when I began using the leash he was very resistant to it. As he has become older, I don't use the leash as often. So the leash has turned out to be a learning tool and not a punishment. It is our job as parents to protect and teach our children how to be safe. Last week I watched a mother verbally try to coax her child out of standing in the street (a very busy high speed intersection). I was appalled because it was obvious that her desire to teach her child to listen to her was putting him a great risk. I do think children need the freedom to explore and develop a firm understanding of what is dangerous versus what is safe. But children are not born with the ability to know what situations are safe or unsafe. I think allowing your child to explore creatively with art or sports is a suitable outlet to discover their sense choice and freedom without putting them at risk for serious consequences.
CatrinaMckechnie CatrinaMckechnie 4 years
I do love how some parents or whatever talk about "leashes" with disgust... If you want to get down to the nitty gritty folks we're all animals and we're no better than the dogs you're all talking about... I love my dogs and I sure as heck treat them with respect and love! So Yeah I have no problem "leashing my child" lol get over yourselves is right... Don't take life so seriously, we won't make it out alive anyway.... (for those that don't get it, we all die in the end) lol
CatrinaMckechnie CatrinaMckechnie 4 years
I have used a safety halter with my daughter and I am one of the most paranoid mom's I know... I was actually more afraid someone would grab her than that she would run off... Or that when we were walking, she might walk into the road, Yes I taught her to hold my hand but The halter was a safety precaution for back up... I see so many children running helter skelter around the store or neighborhood and parents not even trying to get a hold of them or can't... well call me lazy if you want, I don't care. One time, we were standing right there, my daughter saw a dog, the dog wasn't friendly but she took off after it, they're fast, the halter stopped her before she got to the dog, thank God... She could have been seriously hurt! The owner apologized, he didn't realize there was a child outside, She had been holding my hand, but it all happened so fast... I don't regret it at all...
MichelleFord81074 MichelleFord81074 5 years
I was against them before I had a child and for the first year and a half but recently have been considering one, mainly because when I go out she gets distracted too easily and I literally have to chase my daughter to get her back, I don't have time to look at anything as the moment I take my eyes off her is when she decides to bolt and i mean BOLT she runs and doesnt look back, I haven't gotten her one yet but if I come across a cute one I would probably get it, not because its an accessory but because I would like the chance to actually look at an item I would like to buy for more than 2 seconds without having to chase my daughter down.
EmilieBuchert EmilieBuchert 5 years
I and my twin sister both use a harness for our active three yr olds. They both enjoy them. I think its stupid how ppl say that the harnesses r for dogs well think again ppl. They r made to keep ur child safe and if u don't c it then that ur fault. Don't go saying ppl can't watch their kids or that their not teaching their kids right. I tought my daughter hold my had when we go to the stores b4 we got the harness but then she choose to run and keep running. Shes a fast little thing but id always catch her. I always worried when she rounded a corner that when i get there she wont b, that some snatched her up. So we got her a pink poodle harness that she loves because now she gets the freedom to run or hold my hand. Last week my twin and i where walking with our kids down the street. We stopped at an intersection and our kids didnt have there harness on. Her son thought it was our turn because a few cars turned and he started running across the street the car just barely missed him when my twin grabed him out of the street. Hold hands dont awlays work nor dose teaching ur kid to stay with u cause they have a mind of their own and will choose to do other things even if u tell them to stay right beside u and hold ur hand. Instead of fearing ur child might become road kill or hurt by cars or someones victim. Its better to have a harness than something horrible happen to u little one. Who cares if ppl think there for dogs or try and look down on u for using a harness or leash all that matters it that ur child is safe. I could have lost my nephew if my sister wasnt paying attion but if he was waring the harness he wouldnt have made it n2 the street. So those of u who think that the harness r for dogs only than think again plz because they r for safety like and extention of ur arm just like a stroller is.
AprilTrerice AprilTrerice 5 years
I use both a harness and a double stroller, my stroller is more for my shy 2yr old child he does not like strangers or to walk, however I have a very active 3yr old who will walk up to strangers and immediately walk off with them holding their hand without a care in this world, and he doesnt enjoy sitting in a stroller, we have talked about not talking to strangers, and about staying with mommy or daddy at all times, alot of times he listens but there is that 5-10% chance that he will just dart off, so we bought a harness! I am telling you he loves it, we have made it enjoyable for him and his brother we let them pick out what ones they wanted and they take the leash part off when we get home and carry their little buddies around with them, and they even named them! I think it is good to give your child options, we are told to get them outside to play and do things, but in todays world you cant possibly trust everyone, and I would hate to loose my child because i thought buying a harness was treating them like an animal, when in fact its not! Im keeping my child safe from strangers running off with them, and from running in a road and getting hurt..I believe it is a great investment and to make it fun! From my perspective having both a stroller and harness is great!
JulieMann JulieMann 5 years
I think the leash thing is great because it gives your children some freedom. With something there to protect them. I had one for my Daughter. We would go fishing a lot, and I wanted to have something that I know I could grab onto if she was to close to the water or even if she wanted to look into the water, we would go, but I just felt safer having something that gave me a better chance at grabbing her if I needed to. But she also had the freedom to explore how she wanted. I don't know why people act like its a dog thing? I mean really? isnt not like you " take your kid out for a evening walk every night so they can go pee on a fire Hydrant" Or its not like another kid comes a long and get into a fight with yours, so you have to tug on there leash, and tell them to sit! And it's not like people see you walking your kid, and then ask if they can pet him? lol I mean really people? lol.. good grief!
EliciaTruckenbrod EliciaTruckenbrod 5 years
honestly if you're not abd a parent if you need one. some parents are scatter brained and know that its safer to use one. me on ther other hand have twins and they do not listen at almost 2. one goes one way and the other a different direction. I WILL NOT TAKE A CHANCE AT LOSING ONE! so i use the leashes whenever i am alone. otherwise i don't usually need them.
TanyaPhillips6743 TanyaPhillips6743 5 years
I am single parent of extremely active twins. However even tho they love to run and explore i would NEVER put a leash on them. They are my children and they are human beings, not my pet! Would you like to wear a leash yourself? I sure wouldn't and will give my children the same respect! Teach your children to stay with you, a leash will not teach them to respect you its confining them. As well it is showing a complete lack of trust to your child and to your own abilities that you have taught your child to stay with you.
KeriChalmers KeriChalmers 5 years
I used a harness on my oldest son when he was old enough to walk and we were in an area where my hands were full (an airport and I was carrying luggage). I am NOT an inattentive mother, my son's safety was my main concern.
TabathaPerkins TabathaPerkins 5 years
I use a harness on my 4-year-old son when we are out in public for fairs, carnivals, etc. He is ADHD and is only 10 inches shorter than me. I want him to have fun, but safely. We also have a 1-year-old daughter, so, for us, it is necessary since he is so compulsive and doesn't think before he acts.
DawnCarpenter5967 DawnCarpenter5967 5 years
I read some of these posts and it really made me angry. For instance one mom says her kid is 8 years old and has never lost her kid in the store because they know to stay with her. That is great. BUT what do you do with children like mine who knows he needs to stay with me but is so hyper and so friendly that he forgets to pay attention to me? I has nothing to do with my parenting skills. My son has no problem going up to a complete stranger and talking with them and even walking off with them. This is his personality. Not to compare a dog to my child but if we are in public and there is a loud sound he will run in a heart beat and is really fast. I have had dogs do the same thing. I put a leash on them so that they could not run too fast too far. If I am willing to keep my dog that safe shouldn't I also be willing to keep my child that safe. I thought that they were inhumane until I had my special needs son. I believe that they have helped us more than anyone can imagine.
LibbyAlbers LibbyAlbers 5 years
I am definitely not a lazy parent. When my strong willed son turned two he started taking off in the store. I would have a good hold on his hand and then he would suddenly jerk his hand away and take off. It took me 15 minutes running through the store to catch him. I lost sight of him in the racks a couple times and after that I decided to get him a monkey harness. He LOVES his harness and even helps me put it on him. He has the freedom to walk beside me and not completely confined to a cart. And I don't have to stress about when he's going to make a break for it. I think it is closed minded to judge another parent on the harness. Every child is different. Maybe your kid is docile and holds your hand and behaves in public busy places. Mine doesn't. And its not for lack of discipline. He refused to even hold my hand and is constantly jerking and pulling away, which makes me have to grip him harder to hold on to him and I'd rather he be in his harness that he likes than risk hurting his wrist or losing him In a public place. Its not a dog collar around his neck that I yank on to keep him in line. Its a harness and he walks alongside me showing everyone his monkey.
threenorns threenorns 6 years
totally big up on the leash! how many dogs on leashes get hit by cars? as for "inattentive parenting", sod you - if a child does not want to stay put (as my oldest daughter with asperger's never did), she will not stay put and all the teaching, gripping, yelling, smacking, etc, in the world will not help. my youngest is 4-1/2 with what looks to be a really good case of ADHD and has just started bolting - she's getting leashed soon. you can teach your kid all you want - both my oldest and my youngest know what is expected - but, just like the proverbial horse at the waterhole, if they don't want to do it, they're not going to hold your hand nicely. there are times when, as a parent, i need to just get stuff done, whether it's wait in line at the bank, get the groceries into the cart, get the laundry done at the laundromat, etc - constantly cranking my head around like a lighthouse watching my kid? that's not one of them.
DianaPascual DianaPascual 6 years
I would definitely use the backpack safety harness for my children. My two independent and natural explorer, just like Dora, who keep wandering off and would not like to stay put wherever I say to. I always make sure to talk to them (5 and 4 yo daughters) before heading to a crowded place, explaining why they have to hold my hands all the time and never wander off. But all the explanations and "yes, mama" --they seem to forget it all when they're excited in what they sees! But if I have a choice not to bring them, I would not be bringing them to crowded places such as grocery store or malls. If I have to bring them, I have to ready myself to hold their hands very tightly and to hear them that my grasp is hurting their arm/hands. Others might even think that I am abusing my child! I'd rather use the harness, so we can both walk in silent, without pulling and whining and at the same time -- letting them explore and keeping them safe. I previously lost both of my daughters in a grocery shop, while I am on the counter. I am really terrified and it took me 3 long minutes to find them. It was a very dread feeling. I am keeping myself sane, but I really wanted to shout at the top of my lungs to call them at that time. I just can't keep the feeling that they are being lost. I was afraid that someone might get them. News here in the Philippines that some gangs are kidnapping children and then selling their kidneys. I can't forgive myself if that happens and might be thinking, "if I only bought and used that harness -- this will not happen". When something happened to your child, do you still think of what other people will say or what they think of? Harness are not for everyone. If you already have a nanny to take care of your child while your on the counter, then make the nanny give its full focus to your children while your busy. Or like us having two children, we make sure we each have a child on our hand. I will not risk the kids by taking care of them both while we're outside. I am not a lazy parent, but just like any busy mother --you're thinking a lot of things in just one second, and in that one second --your child bolted in a flash!
SonjaBessinger SonjaBessinger 6 years
I used to be one of those people who judged others when I seen them on a "leash" I couldn't believe it. UNTIL I had kids, I totally get it, my son was holding my hand while we where walking in a busy parking lot, he jerked his hand out of mine and took off almost getting ran over, so I went and bought the money backpack. I don't care if he looks silly with a monkey with a big long tail on his back, I don't care what others think. Atleast my son is SAFE. It scared me to death when he done that, in a split second he could have been gone. So Yes I do "leash" my child. Kids are fast and they can be gone in a blink of an eye. So as long as my child is safe, I could careless what anyone else thought about it!
Becky18717 Becky18717 6 years
My son has a monkey and my daughter has a pink dog. Look at me all you want and make little comments. But I know where my children are at all times in a crowd. Do you?
NicoleGruber NicoleGruber 6 years
I use a doggie back pack styled harnash. I use to be agains them until I met my two year old, who is help on wheels. She is able to get out of her stroller as well, and does not stay in one place if she's not in one. I completely agree with using them. I don't like how people say it's a cop out for lazy parents because it's different circumstances for everyone. I'm 7 and a half months pregnant and I can't exactly go bolting after my child anymore.
Jamie49233 Jamie49233 6 years
I have a 3 year old. He runs, no matter how many time i talk to him try to right there by my side. he always manages to run. i get so fustrated i dont know what to do. so when we go to walmart he is put in a cart with my 18 month old and my 4 year old gets to walk. I try to take all three on walks around my house and he is still the only one that runs so far ahead that yelling his name its like he dont care. i have debated on putting that monkey leash on him. What do you think?
ErinHersey ErinHersey 6 years
we use a backpackleash with our 28month old son. we tried giving him independence,thinking all those ppl that bash the backpacks might be right.well boy do we feel dumb.i was going out and i had somethings in my hands,so i nugged the screen door open and said to our son,lets go get in your carseat.well he semi followed me and then b4 i knew it he darted for the main road,where we mind u i run pretty fast and im somewhat athletic but he seems to run 10x's faster.and i finally got ahold of him as he reached the curb of the main road.i grabbed him ,hugged him & cried all at the same time.that day i saw his life flash b4 my eyes and it was mind wrecking.that road is always busy and the speed limit is 65.after that day.he has been consistently using it and i feel he is much safer.and he enjoys the freedom too :)
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