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Should You Use a Child Leash? 3 Alternatives to a Harness

By HERWriter Blogger
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Should You Be Using a Child Leash? 3 Alternatives to a Harness Anastasia Vishnickaya/PhotoSpin

You’ve seen them walking through the mall, cruising through an airport, or navigating a theme park. They are the family that uses a child harness, otherwise known as a leash, for their child.

Parents and child care providers use them for a variety of reasons but the biggest one is to help keep the child safe. Parents who use harnesses are guarding against their child running off into traffic, or wandering away at a park, or being kidnapped from a public place. A harness can potentially stop those things.

In a 2014 poll on Today.com, 75 percent of respondents said they see a harness is useful and that they would use one themselves. Only 25 percent responded negatively. However, there is a sort of humiliation that stops some parents from using these harnesses.

Though some experts can see the value in a child harness in certain situations, there are others who caution parents about using the harness as a way to control their child. There are exceptions for children with special needs, however.

New York social psychologist and parenting expert Susan Newman said that a firm stance from a parent should be what keeps the child from running off or going too far away. As a critic of the harness, she said, “To me, it’s like treating a child like a dog or an animal when in fact as a parent your job is to make the rules. The perception is, this is a parent who can’t control her toddler.”

For the parents and caregivers who want to look for other ways to keep their child safe, here are three alternatives to the child harness:

1) Magic Rope

To help parents who have more than one child to keep in line, a “magic rope” can be used. It is a simple rope with handles on it which the kids hold onto. It is used at many preschools and helps teach children to stay together and walk in a line.

2) Handles on a stroller

For kids who don’t want to sit in the stroller, parents can let them out if they hold on to the handles attached to the stroller. This keeps the child within arm’s reach, but also lets him or her explore a little.

3) Backpack carrier

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I told my wife to get one. Our kid hasn't learn the term "no" yet. I'm getting resistance from family members and friends, but in my viewpoint - they'll forget about it when the child is older and doesn't require the use of the leash. My siblings do not have kids yet, so they wouldn't understand and most parents that put negative connotation to this are the ones that causes the social humiliation concept.

I think there's a fine line between a pet and your kids. You don't tug or pull on your kid, but it would be nice that when your kid's 2 feet from the road or an escalator, that you can hold the lanyard steady fast so that he/she doesn't move. You're not a Michael Johnson to sprint that quickly and have your child safe.

Some people also think that bad parenting skills or bad parents in general are the ones that use leashes. This is grossly misconstrued and I wish psychologists would start a research to see the long term affects for the use of leashes as opposed to just generalizing an opinion.

I rather have a well behaved kid and be shunned, then to be seen as a terrible parent for having an injured, dead, or missing kid. The world isn't 1970/1980s any more [people] - change your perspective.

July 21, 2015 - 12:08pm
HERWriter Guide

Nice article! 

I don't think there's anything wrong with a leash - many countries use them all the time. Kids this age don't know humiliation in this respect (unless we adults make it an issue), all they know is that they can't run off on their parents!  To make it into some kind of psychological/sociological issue is trying too hard to be politically correct, I think. 

A toddler holding on to a stroller never worked for me, the pace of everyone is different, their feet caught in the wheels. 

And I am not carrying 50 pounds on my back! 

Put them on a leash if you want, they won't end up robbing banks and blaming their toddlerhood! 


June 18, 2015 - 2:49pm
HERWriter (reply to Susan Cody)

I agree. I  never used one, but I have zero trouble with parents who do.  Plus, the toddler is burning more energy and getting more exercise on the harness than in a backpack.

June 19, 2015 - 5:15am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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