Are child leashes okay to use?
- The origin of child leashes dates back to the 1700s in a royal portrait of young King Louis XV wearing leading strings. In 1919, Rosalie C. O’Connor filed a patent for the “Child Safety Harness.”
- There are three types of child leashes: safety harnesses, backpack harnesses, and child wrist leashes. An alternative to a child leash is a walking handle.
- Although data on child leashes are minimal, Good Housekeeping reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended against using the items.
- According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, wandering is a common action of toddlers who are “exploring their environment and learning to assert independence,” and becomes less common after the age of 4.
Keeping a child safe while navigating crowded spaces or streets is a big part of parenting. There are different ways of keeping your child close and ensuring they don't wander off, but using leashes is not the best idea for several reasons. While they serve their purpose, they're also a form of physical and psychological abuse against children and a violation of basic human rights. Children, no matter how young, are humans who deserve to be treated with dignity, not hounded up like animals that lack conscience and self-control.
While it may not seem like a big deal, this humiliation may also negatively impact a child's self-esteem, as they may feel untrustworthy and ashamed of themselves. These experiences may instill trauma that may follow them to adulthood. Leashes also impede a child's development of autonomy and independence as they have less control and freedom over their lives. According to research, children require more freedom and responsibility than attention. You are thus hindering their development and growth by tying them to a leash.
Leashes also promote lazy parenting by allowing parents to avoid the underlying need for behavioral training and guidance, which aids in developing proper social manners and etiquette in their children. Experts advise that it's never too early to teach a child good manners.
Leashes can also be a health hazard because they can become entangled and choke the child, resulting in physical harm and/or trauma. Leashes are clearly not good to use with children, and parents should, instead, take full responsibility for their kids and avoid potentially costly shortcuts.
Child leashes get a lot of unwarranted hate, depriving many parents of their benefits. Contrary to assumptions, child leashes aren't the equivalent of lazy parenting. For some parents and children, they can be an integral lifeline. First, not all children develop at the same rate. Children who have yet to develop their motor skills benefit from leashes as they can improve their coordination, balance, and health. Plus, unlike strollers and carriers, they can prevent container baby syndrome.
Child leashes can also promote safety in many ways. They can ensure children's safety in environments that aren't safe for children, such as walking near busy streets. Because of leash-wearing, children can avoid becoming lost in dangerous situations or going missing. Leashes may also be necessary for children with autism spectrum disorder and similar conditions as they tend to wander or bolt from safe, supervised spaces. Similarly, they deter ill-willed strangers as they indicate that parents are serious about their children's safety.
Despite these benefits, some parents hesitate to use a child leash. For one, there are many claims about their adverse effects on children. However, there's limited research on the negative effects of leashes. Therapist Brooke Sprowl, LCSW, confirms this, saying, 'Of the scarce research that has been conducted, none suggests that child leashes do cause physical or psychological harm.'
Besides, children themselves would have communicated negative feelings about leashes. After all, they use gestures, sounds, facial expressions, and movements in addition to words. So, rather than succumbing to the side eye of an onlooker, parents should be open to using a leash—for the safety of their children and their own peace of mind.