If you are a mom like me and on Facebook, your feed is probably full of suggested products for anything to do with children. I don’t know how they do it, they must be psychic. One of the most popular recommendations I keep seeing pop up on my post is that for a child “leash” or “harness”. It is a product meant to keep your child safe when you are out and about in a crowded public place.
I remember my own mother had to use one with my brother, because as most little boys, he hated shopping. Nevertheless, shopping needed to be done and he was a runner. If anyone is parents of toddlers you will also know how quick they are, and all it takes is two seconds for a child to run off in a crowded mall. This was a beneficial way of keeping my brother close, and making sure he didn’t wander away.
I have never batted an eye at these, or though there was anything wrong with it. That is, until I saw this recommendation. It was not the product that got me thinking, but the comment section. As most people know, the comment section on Facebook is a free-for-all. It is a place where people can leave any kind of comment they want, and before you know it a war has broken out.
This is when I realized just how ‘controversial’ these things are. There are those who swear by them and want to buy them in bulk. There are also those who state how awful these things are, and parents need to simply just “watch their children, and actually parent.” I decided to delve deeper into this love it or hate it idea, and present 8 reasons why these are the best products out there, and 7 reasons why we should all put our credit cards away.
15 DO: If You Have A Runner
Once your little one learns to walk, that is all they want to do. Gone are the days where they would just sit in their stroller happily playing with a toy while mom got some shopping done, or just went for a walk. Now, they absolutely hate their stroller, and they want to walk anywhere. This can be problematic for mom, as she wants her kid to walk and experience, but she also wants to keep them safe.
This is one of the biggest reasons that these are a must for any parent with a runner. Toddlers love to run, and I do not know how any parent is going to be able to get some groceries done, and watch where her kid is at the same time. It seems like a win-win for all involved. Mom can get her errands done, and the little one has a safe way of running around without the fear of getting separated from mom.
14 DON’T: They May Get Out Of It
No matter if it is the harness that is masked as a back pack, or the Velcro strap that goes around their wrist, there is always a chance the kid will get themselves out of it. They can be little Houdini’s when they want too, and they are very smart. You set up an environment that is safe and secure, and somehow you turn your back and they are on the side table playing with a lamp (yes, I am talking from experience on that one).
The same goes with these products. There is always a chance that they will slip out of the back pack, or get the Velcro off their wrist. This is not always a large disaster, because mom will usually quickly notice that their little one is trying to escape. She will feel the weight change as the strap falls to the ground all of a sudden. Like I have stated though, kids are fast and it only takes a second for them to get somewhere they really shouldn’t. This could be a big downfall with this product.
13 DO: May Help Children With Special Needs
Everyone knows that having a child with special needs is a whole new ball game. No one knows it more than a mother of a special needs child. Harnesses and ‘leashes’ can be extremely helpful for any parent with a child with special needs. Children with Autism, Down Syndrome, ADHD and others can often lack the judgement needed when they are outdoor, and this can lead to some pretty dangerous situations.
Now, no two kids are alike and it doesn’t mean that every child with special needs will definitely require a harness, but it does help some. It may be extremely helpful for a child who has some hearing difficulty. If they are out with their mom, and they walk ahead of their mom, they will not hear their mom telling them to stop due to something unsafe ahead. It will provide a lot of aid, if the mother has multiple children that she is trying to direct, a little help has never hurt anyone.
12 DON’T: It May Hinder Those With Special Needs
Now, there are times when harnesses and ‘leashes’ may actually hinder a child with special needs. Some children suffer from sensory issues. This may make the feeling of the strap unbearable for them. They don’t like having things touching them or restricting them in any way. They will most likely fight it, and the day will be ruined. This is not a fight a mom should try and engage in, it is just time to think of a new strategy for safety.
It also may hinder their ability to learn some from of independence. Children with special needs rely on their parents a lot, as they should. They need that extra bit of help and love to get through the day. That doesn’t mean that mom’s do not want them to learn some level of independence, or the ability to feel like they can do things themselves. The harnesses may stop them from branching out to experience the world.
11 DO: All The Freedom In The World
We want our children to experience the world, but we want them to do it safely. This is another reason why these inventions are a win-win scenario for everyone involved. We, as parents, know that our children are safe and that they can only wander off a short distance. This can bring piece of mind to any parent out there.
The children get to safety ‘wander’ off, and explore their world around them. Well, as far as the haness will let them. It is impossible for a child to explore the world around them from the confinement of a stroller. They can’t play in the dirt, pick flowers or even just feel the ground under their feet. When they are able to walk freely and safely it allows them to do all of these things and really just explore the world around them.
10 DON’T: Some Say It Restricts Their Freedom
There will always be two sides to everything. The other side of this is that is actually doesn’t help them learn about their environment at all. That it actually stops their natural curiosity from coming out. That it doesn’t let them roam about and learn about things that are beyond the reach of the ‘leash’. There are a lot of people out there that think that if a child is stuck to your side too much, they will just learn to mimic what you do, and it will hinder their ability to grow as an individuals.
This is always the hard pat about topics like this, there will always be two sides. One saying something is good, the other saying the exact same thing is bad. All we can do is take in all the information out there, sort it out, and come to the conclusion that best works for our children and family.
9 DO: It Is So Practical
It is not something that is only for safety, it has practical uses as well. For a mother who has a lot of young children, this can be a very practical method of keeping them all safe and close by. A mother only has two hands, and can not physically hold 6 hands when crossing the street. Let us all also realize that no kid enjoys holding hands, they love the freedom. A harness is one way we can safely give them that freedom.
It is also very practical for a mother of multiples. The problem for a mom who has twins, triplets, or even more is that they are all at the same age at the same time. So when one is 2 and running around all over the place, so are the other ones. Harnesses are a great and practical way for a family of multiples to keep track of all their children when they are in a crowded place. It will also help them keep their sanity.
8 DON’T: Lazy Parenting
Now, I am not saying that any parent that uses a harness is a ‘lazy’ parent, but that is the most common negative comment attached to these products, and I promised I would show both sides of the argument. There are many people out there who see these items as a way for a parent to be lazy. That they need to simply teach their children the proper way of behaving when in public.
That they are not to wander off from mom and dad, and that they must hold hands when crossing the street or in a crowded place. They state that mom and dad need to simply just keep an eye on their children and they wouldn’t have to worry about them getting lost or something happening to them. Well, we wish everything worked like this, but it doesn’t. So, moms that are in favour of these methods, be prepared for a fair amount of (totally unfair) shaming.
7 DO: Pedophiles Stay Away
Now, these are not only helpful in making sure that your kid does not run off, they are extremely helpful in preventing someone from snatching your kids away. I can not imagine a bigger nightmare for parents. You are at the mall, doing some shopping, and when your back is turned for one second someone snatches your kids up and walks away. While we would like to think this doesn’t happen, it does.
A harness of Velcro strap can help prevent this from happening. A mother or father would feel if someone was trying to take their child, but even just seeing that a parent is using this method will deter anyone from even trying to take your child. Let’s face it, people with very bad intentions are going to be looking for the opportune moment. That is usually in a crowded place, and when mom or dad are preoccupied for a second.
6 DON’T: Bad Guys Have Scissors Too
The problem is, that bad guys have scissors and knives too, and can easily snip the cord and walk away. Now, this isn’t fool proof either, as mom or dad will most likely feel that the weight has changed and realize what is happening, but it can still happen. With these products becoming more and more popular, the bad guys will have their set of tricks up their sleeves to get away with this.
Parents should never put 100% of their faith in safety products, everything fails. It helps sure, but a parent still needs to be aware of their surroundings and what is going on. People taking (and harming) children is not something we can comprehend, because our brains do not work that way. We can not see something coming sometimes when we can not understand any motives behind what people do. It is just always important to be aware, and never put all your faith in these products.
5 DO: It Is NOT Lazy Parenting
OK, here is where I get to write that it is not lazy parenting when a parent uses a harness on a child. Let’s look at child development for a minute. Children can start walking and running at a very young age. My daughter was 11 months old. She is now 16 months and she doesn’t just walk, she runs. When a child is so young, it is almost impossible to reason with them. So, all of those saying we need to better parent our children, need to think about that.
There is no way in the world I can reason with my daughter and explain to her that she needs to hold my hand or not stray away from me. She simply is not capable of comprehending what I am saying. She knows the word ‘no’ but I definitely do not want to be yelling that every five seconds. Which believe me, I would have too. A harness or leash is a good thing to use in that in between stage between when they want to explore and when they are old enough to actually listen to instructions and follow.
4 DON’T: Negative Attention
This is probably not a real reason why you won’t want to use one, but more a cautionary warning against what may happen if you do decide to use one. You will probably get some negative attention from people if they see you using one of these products. The problem is, there will always be people who will give you negative attention regarding any parenting tool or style you decide to use.
Some people are able to brush it off and go on with their day, but others can be really hurt by other people’s comments and make them question every decision they have ever made and end up coming to the conclusion that they must be awful parents (trust us, you are probably not). The most common comment made about these products is that we are treating our children like dogs, and that is probably because we keep calling them leashes. Just be aware that there will always be people who think what you are doing is wrong, but you do you!
3 DO: Much Needed Exercise
Looking at the world we live in today, the rate of obese children is large and it is only getting bigger. Using a child harness is a great way to make sure your young toddlers get the vital exercise they need in a safe and controlled way. If anyone’s child is like mine, she will walk for miles and I encourage that. It is important to me (and most parents probably) that our kids are exposed to outside time and are able to walk and get some exercise.
The alternative to harnesses for a toddler is usually tying them down to a stroller. This is not a good way to make sure they get some exercise. Sure, mom will sure be getting a good work out pushing the stroller up and down hills, but the little one is just sitting there watching the world go by. It is vital in today’s world to make sure our kids are getting ample exercise, and a walk around the block with mom is the best and easiest way to start them on the right track.
2 DON’T: Can Be Used For The Wrong Reasons
I touched on this briefly, but I want to come back to it because I think it deserves a deeper explanation. Just like with many safety devices, it can become a hidden danger. The reason is because when a parent uses a product like a harness of leash, they can start to rely on it too much, and pay no attention to their child as they assume the tether will do its job.
This can be very dangerous, as it is with any safety product. There is no product out there that can replace the watchful eye of mom and dad. It is great that we have all of these products and tools to help us keep our children safe. The key word there was help, they are not there to make sure nothing happens to our child. We may be standing, talking to a friend and thinking our children are safe, so we don’t even glance down. But, they can get tangled in the ropes, or a dog that is not too friendly may be approaching. All of these things are risks and parents still need to be aware.
1 DO: It’s YOUR Kid, Do Whatever Works!
I think the biggest reason to use a child harness or leash is quite simple. It is your child and you have the right to do anything you want, as long as it is not harming your child. There is too much shaming and judgement going on in our world, and we are all just trying to do the best that we can. I will never stop defending a mother’s right to do whatever she feels is right for her family.
No one knows our children better than us, we know if this is going to work and be successful or if it is just a big waste of money. What I aim to do is provide both sides of the coin, and with the right information it is that much more easier to make an informed decision for you and your family. Leash or don’t leash, the choice is up to you, and only you.