Putting Your Child on a Leash Is Kind of Liberating

Mom Moment 110

penelope on a leash hugging tree
My daughter. Hugging trees on a leash.
My twins are 2 and they like to walk instead of being in the stroller and I like that too because in case you didn't know a City Mini Double doesn't fit into most places in Brooklyn where I live. Which can be tragic when you promise ice cream and then cannot fit into the ice cream place. Folding the stroller up on a busy city sidewalk with an equally busy street is challenging when you have one adult and two curious toddlers. Plus it's nicer to not be confined to the stroller. And I want my kids to walk around. Though sometimes I wish I was in the stroller and they pushed me.

The other day I had a terrifying moment when my daughter, who I thought was calmly walking next to me holding my hand, suddenly took off for the street. All was fine, but it scared me.

So I thought about the leash

Well first I thought ... How do all the parents I see walking around with their kids get them to stay right next to them at all times? Is it just MY kids that like to wander off and slither out of my hands when I try to get them? Then the leash thought. Which to be honest I always thought was one of those things I would never think of getting. I would never judge anyone who did use them, but they just weren't a thought for me until they became wild animals. I mean, toddlers. Two toddlers, one parent is a tough thing to keep under control when out in the wild streets of Brooklyn where cars drive way too fast.

I know, I know, we have dogs on leashes. But most of us co-sleep with our dogs, too. And keeping them on a leash is a precaution to keep them alive so they don't get hit by cars, right? Maybe a leash isn't so bad for kids. Strollers are oppressive! Leashes can be liberating! I bought two.

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My son wanted nothing to do with it. So I put him in the single stroller and strapped my daughter into the leash and off we went. The first few blocks were a dream. I held her hand or had her hold the stroller while we walked. No one looked at me funny and one man even walked a whole block with us telling me how I'm doing a good thing keeping my kid safe and how these streets are dangerous and how he has four kids and grandkids and he knows how tough it is. I was thinking, Wow, what a great man, he gets me. Then he hocked a loogie on the ground, stopped at the public ashtray outside the restaurant we were in front of, and started picking out not fully smoked cigarettes.

I didn't know how to feel. Was this leash thing barbaric? Am I a terrible mother? When we arrived at the playspace, I felt the need to explain the leash to the teacher. You have to do what you have to do, she said. Which was the glowing review I got from Mr. Loogie Hocker. Her response was neither here nor there in the approval department. I also started getting pissed at myself for worrying what everyone else thought. These are my kids -- I'm just trying to keep them alive, damnit! I'm going to own this leash thing. I'm going to totally embrace it and who cares what anyone thinks, I thought. This is liberation!

When we walked home my daughter decided that the hand holding and stroller holding wasn't what she wanted to do. So she would run ahead. I tried to keep up with her but when I didn't it ended up with the leash causing her to fall backwards. And cry. This was a major fail. This made me feel like I was walking a dog, not protecting my child from running into the street. This is not something I thought about when conjuring up the many benefits of the leash in my head before we first tried it out. The only negative I saw then was the looks I would get from other people.

I did my best to keep Penelope next to me and then she stopped and wanted to play with the dirt around the tree. Then she hugged the tree. Adorable, yes. But you know who else likes to hang out in the tree dirt in Brooklyn? Dogs. Dogs on leashes who have to pee or poop.

I haven't used the leash since. I'm trying a new tactic -- my daughter must hold onto the strap on the back of the stroller when we walk. No leash. She's not attached to it, but she does like holding it, especially when I tell her she's helping me by doing so. Luckily my son doesn't mind the stroller. I do think the leash could be a great thing ... my kids just don't seem to think so.

Would you use a leash for your kids? Have you?


Image via Michele Zipp

safety, a mom's life


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Alixandra Mullins

no way. it totaly weirds me out.  I would rather train my child, as a human being. Also my children know leashes are for walking dogs.  but, ya kno every situation is different. maybe in veas with mobs of peope, but its weird.

libby261 libby261

Yes, I had to resort to a leash for a while when my daughter was a toddler.  She didn't want to hold my hand and didn't want to stay in the stroller or cart, so out came the leash.  We used it a few times and then she decided she liked holding my hand a lot better, lol.

Samantha N Kevin

Depends on the kid. When my 21/2 year old was about 1-1 1/2 he loved to walk and not be in the stroller, but he's quick and he would just bolt. We used the monkey backpack leash for maybe a month while we taught him to hold our hand. Once he learned, we put it away. I wouldn't use it as a replacement for teaching, but I think safety first while they're learning. I wouldn't want my child to get hurt or lost while they're still grasping the concept of listening. Toddlers are quick and unpredictable and I would rather use a leash for a little bit than God forbid have something happen to them. My daughter on the other hand is 15 months and will hold my hand already and doesn't run nearly as fast as my son did!

kebates kebates

I don't have kids yet, but I can imagine I would feel just like you do.  At first I thought the leash was silly, how can you tie up your kids like that.  But thinking about a busy city street (I live in a smallish suburban town which is very different) I get it.  Lots of people, lots of cars, lots of distractions (kids and adults) and with 2 kids... I get it.   It sounds like youve tried the thing I saw somewhere with a "handle" that attaches to the stroller for them to hold on to, so that's maybe better (at least they won't run and fall back) but you have to do what it takes to keep them safe (and not lock them up). 

nonmember avatar B

I was at the mall with my baby and 4 nieces and nephews, ranging in age from 6 to 13. I had been carrying my daughter while pushing the stroller, and browsing through the clothes. My youngest niece was standing only an arms-length away from me the whole time; I turned my head to look at something, turned back around, and she was gone, completely out of sight. I started running around the area we were in, calling her name, telling her that if she was hiding to come out now! Time went on with me doing this and I realized she was not around, so I began to panic. I handed my daughter to my oldest niece and began running through the store, screaming her name, but she was nowhere. I got other people in the store to help me, told the store employees, and before I know it they are calling "Code Adam," and even though I was frantic at that point, those words made my heart sink to my stomach and I lost it. After what seemed like forever, a store employee finally came running over, "We found her!" She had gotten disoriented in the clothes section we were in, since she is so short, and couldn't see where I was standing (on the other side of the rack) and wandered off trying to find me in a different part of the store. Granted a 6-year-old is probably too old for a leash, but it made me realize how quick children are and how they can get away within a split second. Definitely would consider one when my daughter starts walking because I never want to experience that again!

bills... billsfan1104

Never did, because my kids were taught not to run away. I set rules and the followed them, if they didnt there we consequences. My sister has six kids and doesnt use a leash. Its called being a parent and teaching them right from wrong and not making excuses for your kids crappy behavior.

bluec... bluecowgirl

so yea I never thought of getting a leash either but my kids just aren't stroller kids (And I'm kind of proud of that actually. They hike with us on a regular baisis (2 and 3) and the 2 year old only asks to be carried occasionally, we went to the bronx zoo in november (so totally un-crowded, I think a crowded zoo would be a different story) and both kids didn't use a stroller or ask to be carried, etc I think its important for kids to not constantly be confined to strollers and to be allowed to explore) and right now I don't need a leash to keep them in check but I'm thinking that once baby #3 comes and I will have even less free hands I am going to get one for when we are out and they start acting up (all kids do, 2 and 3 year olds no matter how well behaved act up) then just put them on the leash until they stop and I know that they aren't going to be running off in oppisite directions thro the mall laughing like hyenas (happened last weekend which is when I decided this) I haven't used a stroller since I can't remember and I'm not about to start lugging a stroller around to strap them into when they act up but I figure one of those backpack leases I can carry with me and bring out for when they start running off.

Lovem... Lovemykidstw

Yes I have used a leash, well it's actually a monkey backpack. My daughter would hold my hand but the second she let go she would bolt! I started using it when I was pregnant with her brother, she was 18 mos at the time. I still use it on occasion & she is 3. I don't really care if people give lOoks or say I'm lazy, I'd much rather have people give looks than something happen to my child. Yes, I try to teach her not to run off, but she is 3 & 3 yr olds don't always listen! She lives the backpack actually, she thinks it's cool that there is a monkey hanging on her back. I wrap the handle around my arm & still hold her hand. It is especially wonderful in a parking lot when I have to let go of her hand to put her brother in his car seat, then I don't have to worry about her darting across the parking lot.

Yes before I had kids, I judged & thought only lazy parents would put their kid on a leash. Now, you do what works for you to keep your kids safe & I'll do what works to keep mine safe ;)

femal... femaleMIKE

I seen a toddler in a store on a leash.  Once he was placed in it, he started walking then turned around and pulled the leash part away from his mother.  His mother tried so hard but the kid would not walk with the leash on. 

Prett... PrettyGirlMyers

Wow, Billsfan1104, judgemental much?

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