Observing Leash Laws?

by Jessica on May 31, 2011

Once again, I find myself eating another parenting “I will never” statement.    Until now, my official stance on kiddie leashes was fairly firm: leashes are for pets not people and parents need to teach proper behavior.

Truthfully, my first three kids made this stance fairly easy.  My oldest has always worshiped at the altar of rules and boundaries.  From the time he could walk, I could simply show him where I wanted him to stop and he would stop.  No running away giggling, no wandering off aimlessly.   At playdates, other moms would marvel at this phenomenon as they ran to catch their little ones who were toddling towards the street.   Somewhat smugly, I would shrug my shoulders and announce that I had just taught him to listen to my instructions and because of my excellent parenting skills, he obeyed.  Sure.  The karma of first time mommy smugness has repaid me for those comments in exercises in humility again and again, I assure you.

I honestly can’t remember why I didn’t consider the idea of a kiddie leash for my next two.  Perhaps, I was still young and chipper enough then to doggedly stick to my ideals.  Or, it is possible that I never left the house because I was certain that with three kids under five I was bound to lose.  I do think I was somewhat of a Nazi with regards to the stroller, but that whole period of time is a relentless blur.

So, here I am with baby number four and I am considering the possibility of using a kiddie leash for our upcoming vacation.  I’m not usually one to be wishy-washy with decisions, but I keep playing the pros and cons back and forth in my mind. The argument with myself sounds something like this:

  1. It’s Vacation. It’s a good time to relax your standards and let loose a little.  Get a leash, it will be easier for everyone.
  2. Wait a minute!  Parenting never takes a vacation.  Getting a leash will only allow you to be lazy.   You need to teach the child to stay with his parents.
  3. But, is it developmental appropriate to expect a two year old to be able to control his impulses? Two year olds just aren’t wired that way and the leash will be safer.  Think of it as a learning tool between the stroller and walking alone.
  4. Developmentally appropriate?  If he can’t follow the rules,  then he can just stay in the stroller. Walking with the rest of the family is a privilege not a right.
  5. Well, he should have the right to walk with the rest of the family.  His brothers are doing it and he wants to be like them.  The leash will give him the dignity of walking while still giving him some boundaries and safety.
  6. You’re worried about dignity?  What’s dignified about a kid walking around on a leash like a dog?
  7. And while we’re on the subject, the kid already thinks he’s a dog.  Oh sure, everyone thinks it’s funny now when he takes a drink out of the dog bowl.   Add a leash and your just asking for a psychiatrist bill.
  8. It’s not like I’m going to be handing out treats and saying ‘heel.’  I just want to give him some freedom that will work for both of us.
  9. Well, what’s freedom worth to you?  People are going to stare and you are going to be the crazy mom who can’t control her child and has to use a leash.  Imagine the judgment!
  10. Really, you need to focus on what works for this child, for this family, in this moment.   Pride in parenting leads to trouble.  If the leash works for everyone, use it.  If it doesn’t work, leave it at home.

Simple, right?  If only it was.  It’s hard to give up one of your parenting ‘I nevers,’ even if it seems like the right thing to do.   All my reasons not to use a kiddie leash still ring true, and I would be inclined to stick with that except I really think the leash would be great for this child.  I think it will be better for him, not just easier for me.  I’ve still got a few days to decide.  What are your thoughts and experiences?

This post is a part of Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda


Kyndra May 31, 2011 at 8:27 am

Well, experience would say: “If what he needs is a physical reminder of his boundaries because preschoolers don’t visualize well, by all means get a leash. If he really hates boundaries and will fight the leash, throw fits about etc, don’t bother, it won’t help him obey at all. ” You’ll have to train him to the leash like you would train for anything else.

You can however always claim that it’s a return to historical norms and call it “leading strings” …

Stacey May 31, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Ha! I think I’ve had those same conversations in my head! We are on baby #3 and I can’t even begin to imagine what a vacation with the kids would look like :)

Tiffany May 31, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Loved the humor of this post.
I am anti-leash but more for our family than being judgmental of other families. My daughter hates her stroller and always has to walk or be carried, and she has recently revolted against the Ergo as well. She’s not fantastic at staying put, either, and she resists hand holding. Still, we persevere on, but she’s also our only child. The idea of a leash doesn’t sit well with me for all the con reasons you mentioned, and although I agree with your pros, for us, they do not outweigh the cons.
Bottom line, I think you hit the nail on the head with your number 10- you do what is best for your child and your family. People are judgmental no matter what, anyway! So just grandly ignore them.

ICStarzz May 31, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I agree with a lot of what Tiffany said. I loved the humor in this post and when it comes down to everything, #10 is most important.
I am pro leash though, even though I used to be anti leash, because the most important thing is safety, and with more than two kids, I would say using a leash would make it a more relaxed trip. My Opinion.


Sar May 31, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Ha! This post made me crack up.

I must admit, I’m not a parent, and don’t intend on being one any time soon (give me five years!). I was, however, a leash baby.

That’s right, folks, I wore a leash. It wasn’t one of those ones that was a backpack that just happened to have a rope attached, but it had velcro and it tied around my wrist. My mom raised me as a curious, extraverted child who was interested in everybody and everything. Both my parents taught me to push the boundaries…and sometimes were worried that I’d push ’em a little too much and run away (probably a smart decision).

I’m now 25 and cannot remember wearing the leash. In fact, I’m sure I wouldn’t have known had my mother not told me. No hard feelings, and no bad repercussions.

Good luck with your decision!

walkingontravels May 31, 2011 at 11:25 pm

You still manage to brighten my day with your posts. Somehow I always know I can come over here and get a giggle in when I need it most.

As for leashes, I’ll admit it. I saw a monkey backpack one at a consignment store before our first trip to China and I bought it. I even brought it with us. All I could think was “what if someone snatches him!” Well if I was walking far enough from my 14 month (at the time) for someone to snatch that would be a miracle. He didn’t walk fast enough. But now that he is almost 2 and constantly into mischief and testing the mommy boundries, I have thought about it alot again. I did not bring it to China with me on this past trip. The just chained him to the stroller. Not sure which is better though. But yeah, the idea of leashing my kid is weird. I still have it in the closet as a back up though. To each her own and you keep those boys safe no matter what it takes. Plus black mail pictures are their own kind of reward, right?

Carin June 1, 2011 at 9:00 am

I, too, said I’d never when it came to the kiddie leash…until my wanderlust youngest, despite all my parenting tactics kept wandering into dangerous territories on outings. The first week I used the leash (or Monkey Buddy, as we called it) it literally saved his life after he ran into a parking lot and was stopped short of getting hit by a driver driving entierly too fast through the lot, thanks to the leash. I received tons of bad looks and comments from other parents, but the fact that the Monkey Buddy saved his life on countless occasions turned me into a believer that a parent does whatever he/she can to keep the offspring safe.

WV Stitcher June 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I am your newest GFC follower from the Wed hop and would love if you dropped by my blog at kittycrochettwo.blogspot.com when you get a chance. As for the leash topic, I think for safety issues its perfectly acceptable.

lori's blog reviews and more June 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm

following you from the wednesday hop Great Blog :)

Alex June 1, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Lol 😀 Hilarious post! Following you!

I really like your blog – I’m trying to get mine off the ground and was wondering if you could come check it out and consider following.


Hope you have an *amazing* day! :)


Vicki Stoner July 22, 2011 at 3:42 am

Ha ha – I use a kiddie bungy for my son. He loves it. He likes that both he and I wear a band around our wrists. Makes life safer for both of us. we only use it when necessary and most of the time we don’t need it.

Tamsyn Spackman August 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I just bought a couple for our children for our trip to Vegas. I used to be anti-leash, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. My kids are mostly well-behaved, but Vegas has a lot of things to see. Ultimately, I trust my kids, it’s everyone else that I don’t trust.

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