Kid Leashes

I’ve never been a fan of kid leashes since it just seems strange to wrangle your child the same way you would a dog.  I thought they were going out of style and then BAM!!!  I saw two this week and it has me wondering what’s up?

Kid-on-Leash-2The first one I saw was the monkey backpack kind where they’ve made domesticating your child via a rope seem cute.  The kid wears a harness that has a stuffed monkey on the back, the monkey has leash, and the parent holds the leash.  Okay, this one is kind of cute and I guess you are supposed to feel like you have a monkey on the leash and the monkey is holding your kid.  We were at the zoo when we saw this, the kid was about a 1-year-old, and the parents had other kids slightly older they were chasing after.  While I think a leash on a kid looks as natural as a leash on a cat I understood this scenario and brushed off as “not what I’d do but I get it.”  The parents had kids in strollers as well as kids running, they were at the zoo which was crowded, there were live animals, there were high walkways and fences, and the turtles in the petting area can be aggressive when going after that leaf of lettuce.  I’ll give you that one…its a “just in case.”

Kid Leash WristThen…yesterday happened.  Kate and I were sitting outside at a cafe when we saw another kid on a leash.  This kid was probably about 6 years old…which right there should make you feel creepy that she’s on a leash.  The leash was strapped to her wrist and holding the human end of it (because lets face it…you’ve deemed your kid a pet at this point) is a grandmother who is slow, but fully mobile.  The little girl wasn’t walking or running ahead of Grandma The Kid Owner…no, she just walked slowly along side her with the leash slack between them…like a well-trained dog.  That is what it looked like, a kid who had been well-trained to wear a leash.  It was spooky.  There were no crowds of people, no live animal cages she could fall into, she was not mentally challenged, and the cafe was in a strip mall in Wichita, KS.  Let me say that again, a strip mall.  There is no foot traffic in a strip mall.  So, Grandma The Kid Owner parades her dog-child past us to the car where she lets her in…then releases her from her leash.  Good girl…goooooood girl.

TankTop Kid LeashWHAAAAT?!!!  Is this legal?  Look, I love gadgets and stuff that make parenting easier.  Why?  Because it makes parenting easier.  However, in all circumstances I parent before resorting to gadgeting.  Max walks next to me, holds my hand, etc. when we go out because I’ve parented him to know he needs to stick close and (wait for it) look both ways before crossing the street.  If I say, “Wait please.”  He waits.  If he won’t wait, I pick him up or ask him why he won’t wait.  Can you imagine how humiliating it must be to be old enough to dress yourself and go to school…but you have to wear a leash when Grandma wants to go to Dress Barn at the ole strip mall.  It’s a leash.  A LEASH!  Why not just stick a shock collar on her and zap her anytime she’s more than a few feet from you?  Does she sleep in a tiny house in the back yard?  If she gets really sick, does she get put down?  A LEASH!!!  For a kid!  If a kid on a leash meets a dog on a leash do they sniff each other?  Does the dog get confused?  If the owner-end of a kid-leash is attached to a dog, who is walking who?  Who is the pet?  Who is the owner?

As kids get older they develop personalities and don’t always do what you ask them to.  This is when you really start parenting…and restraining them physically isn’t going to work.  You don’t own them.  They are not property.  You are their parents and you need to teach them how to be a person.  In all seriousness, if you have ever seen a person with a dog on a leash that can’t control the dog…its most likely because the dog has not been trained or is unfamiliar with how to walk with a person.  If you see a kid on a leash and the adult can’t control the kid what do you think is going on?  Is it a bad kid…or has the parent not taught the kid how to behave in public?  It’s the screaming kid at the restaurant who has never had dinnertime with the parents at home.  It’s the toddler glued to a video game because they haven’t been taught how to socialize with other kids.  It’s the kid on the leash because they’ve never been told, “You need to hold my hand when we’re walking in the strip mall.”

Parent your kids…don’t train them.


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8 thoughts on “Kid Leashes

  1. I completely understand what you are saying. I’ve always been opposed to this. It just did not seem right. What next, senior citizens on leashes? I mean, they can also wander and then forget their way back..Wait, don’t tell me they already have a leash for that..

    In your post too, I completely agree with how you feel about the 6 year old on a leash. It seems pointless and insensitive. Besides, 6 years is old enough to be spoken sternly too, if she is prone to wandering off by herself. However the 1 year old, I think there might be a reason. I am a Mum to an extremely active 3 year old who does not believe in walking. He wants to run everywhere, which makes it very hard for me to hold on to him when we go out. He gets bugged with just sitting on the stroller too which means, I have to let him stretch his legs every now and then and there starts the chase. At such moments, I have begun to see the rationale and the reason behind the leash and why some parents go for it.

    I have not tried the leash on my kid and I never will either. I much prefer to run after him but what I am saying is that, I see their point. I don’t come down on them quite as hard as before.

  2. Ok smart guy, but if I don’t use my Aiden & Anais Chilean Kid Leather Child Safety Parental Connection Device – or “leash,” as you so flippantly describe it – then how can I have both hands free to send & answer text messages, check Facebook, shop online (have you SEEN the new ottmans at Crate and Barrel??? Or the dimpled glass artichoke dishes? OMG!), drink my nonfat macchiatto, examine high-end merchandise at various retailers you’ve probably never heard of, or freely sample perfectly ripened Pont-l’Évêque at Whole Foods??!

  3. Sure, it does seem very, very unusual to have a 6 year old on a leash. However, you are an observer, don’t really know the circumstances, and are AWFULLY hard on Grandma.

  4. You must be the worlds worst parent, “Parent your kids…don’t train them”. You mean like potty TRAIN them? Training is EXACTLY what parenting is, oxyMORON. I suppose you’re one of those parents that prefers to leave your kid strapped into a stroller everywhere you go, or perhaps you’re the type that lets them run wild with no restraints. The ‘leash’, is no different than restraining your child in a ply-pen, a car seat, a high chair, a bouncy, a gate, a crib, or numerous other devices in a parent’s arsenal of tools designed to TRAIN and restrain your child.

    1. Mike,
      I thought long and hard as to if I wanted to allow your comment on this site or not as your choice of words and accusatory tone is completely uncalled for. However, your argument is a valid opinion albeit muddled by your emotion, lack of tact, and issues with the English language’s grammar, punctuation and spelling. First of all, thank you for accusing me of being the “world’s worst parent” and a “moron.” It greatly helps put your argument in perspective. While you are correct that potty training has the word “train” in it you missed the point of the piece. Using potty training as an example: You train a pet (like a dog) to scratch at the back door and go in the yard. You also train a child to go on the potty instead of in a diaper. The difference is the child then needs to then be taught why we go on the potty while the dog simply understands the training as part of its repetitive daily discipline. Knowledge and understanding vs. discipline and achieved skill. I personally don’t like leashes for children because it is a tool used on dogs. When I say “Parent your kids…don’t train them,” I am referring to teaching your children how to behave in public. To answer your question: We rarely use strollers when we go out because we’ve taught our kids how to look both ways before crossing the street, the values of good behavior, and how to function as free-thinking individuals. A leash is very different from a car seat, high chair, and crib. A car seat is for transportation and “restraints” are used for safety. A high chair is for eating and part of teaching your kids how to behave at the dinner table, “restraints” are to keep them from falling out before they learn fine motor skills. A crib is for sleeping – not “restraining.” It appears your issue is with the word “restraint.” The restraints you reference are the type that are implemented for safety. While one could argue that the kid-leash is a tool of safety, I feel it is a tool that sends the wrong message. How to behave in public is the kind of restraint you learn from your parents, peers, and outside influences – from teaching…which is parenting. Perhaps you should consider spending more time with your kids (instead of restraining them) and teach them how to be better persons than yourself, maybe when they’re older they’ll learn to have a little more restraint than to blindly make inappropriate accusatory comments online because they have a difference of opinion.

      The World’s Worst Parent

  5. I get why people use them in crowded places like amusement parks. Some kids, like my son, don’t have that instinct to check where their parent is… That invisible safety line that exists ideally between parent and child. i considered using one when he was younger and we went to sesame place, mostly because the thought of losing him was horrific to me. I didn’t use it, Ned thoroughly objected and I didn’t feel like it was necessary, but I think that there are valid reasons to consider using it. Using it for convenience or past the age where a child can verbally communicate who they are is not really great. But who are we to judge anyone. You know as a parent that it’s very easy to look at a situation and make a snap and snarky judgement without knowing exactly what’s going on. I say to each their own. I like to think that aside from the occasional idiot, most parents really are trying to do what they think is best.

  6. OK Mike, when you’re way outside the societal norm (and in Western society we don’t keep people on leashes, it’s not totally unknown but certainly not something one sees every day), it’s up to -you- to prove why -you- are not a bad parent… not the other way around.

    Now to my thoughts on the matter.

    First off, I need to say I haven’t seen the data… what does it say? Everything following is merely opinion and not scientifically checked.

    Second… context matters. I mean, a stroller or a baby carrier is far more restrictive than a leash. So is the leash being used instead of a stroller, or instead of free toddle time? Obviously babies need free toddle time in order to grown properly, in both brain and body. So if the leash is being used instead of toddle time, that’s a problem. But if it is being used instead of a stroller, then arguably, the kid is much more free than the kid in the stroller.

    I’m guessing the older kid had some invisible handicap. Otherwise, no, there’s no excuse.

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