A dad’s post about putting his toddler on a leash is leaving some social media users conflicted.
In a Facebook post that has gone viral, Oregon-based author and blogger Clint Edwards said his daughter, who is a “wild child,” was put on a toddler leash during a recent trip to the farmers’ market.
“This thing has already kept her out of the road and from sticking her hand in an ice cream machine, along with keeping me sane,” he wrote on the social media site.
“The real difficulty with having a wild child is that you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Because the fact is, if I didn’t put Aspen on a leash while at amusement parks, the zoo, a crowded mall, or the farmers market, she’d be the lost child announced over the intercom. She’d be the kid popping up in every Facebook feed for wandering into a shopping centre parking lot, unattended. She could be the child climbing into the tiger cage. Because I can’t, for the life of me, keep her from moving. Her curiosity is incredible, and for only having a 12 inch stride, she moves faster than any Olympian.”
He admits that he gets dirty looks from strangers (or hateful comments from readers on his blog), but in Edwards’ eyes, he’s keeping his little girl safe.
“I’m keep this kid safe while maintaining my piece of mind, and that is 100 [per cent] worth it,” he wrote. “Because the reality is she’ll calm down. She’ll figure it out, because all kids do. But until that day comes, I’m going to do whatever I can to keep her out of danger, even if it means a leash.”
The great leash debate
Toddler leashes or harnesses are nothing new, and the debate whether they belong on children has been ongoing.
After his post went viral, thousands of social media users weighed in on Edwards’ decision, some agreeing with him and others calling it “bulls**t.”
Some talked about their own experiences using a leash on their children.
“I leashed all 4 of my kids, they are adults now, with no scars from being leashed. Although my brothers taught one of them to bark at people when he had it on, was the only bad thing. I still have this harness to be passed on to use on the grandkids,” user Lesley Stockmaster Cheek wrote.
“I have a monkey harness/leash for my child and I have absolutely no shame whatsoever. I could not care less what anyone else thinks of it. If you ask my son what my job is, he will immediately say “to keep me safe”, and that’s exactly what this mama bear is going to do,” user Tammy Elizabeth wrote.
Others, on the other hand, thought the words “leash” and “kid” don’t belong in the same sentence.
“I guess this is for people that don’t know how to parent? How to teach our kids wrong from right? Who pay no attention to what their kid is doing? This right here is why there are so many damn brats out in this world. What’s going to happen when she starts going to school?,” user Katrina Houston wrote.
Others argued labelling your children “wild” was a bad excuse.
“There are no shortages of resources that can help any parent make improvements to their parenting techniques and methodologies. Especially in establishing a base discipline and behavioral expectations of the child. One thing for sure….it’s not the child’s fault. A leash is wrong,” user Mark Thomson wrote.
Others admitted that they didn’t understand the usefulness of a toddler leash until they became parents themselves.
“I used to be pretty judgey about those things. Then I had kids. Keep on keepin’ on, man,” user Kristin Nosbusch wrote.
What the experts think
Vancouver-based parenting coach Julie Romanowski says toddler leashes are a contradictory and complex issue often smothered in judgement.
“In the wild and unruly parenting world, there is a time and place for most things. It is very dependent on factors such as personality, lifestyle and development,” she tells Global News. “There is no ‘one size fits all’ method. If it is a severe safety issue, I would do whatever it takes to keep the child safe with the intention that it is developmentally appropriate, respectful and effective.”
Dr. Jillian Roberts, child psychologist and associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Victoria, says we need to give parents a break.
“It is really difficult parenting in this age and parental fears are heightened right now,” she tells Global News. “Parents are worried about the safety of their children. If a parent feels more secure by having their child tethered to them in someway, then great, I’m all for it.”
How to teach children safety
If safety is the main concern, Romanowski says, start with small trips to relatively benign locations that won’t overstimulate your kid, like a local green space.
“Work your way up to the zoo or amusement park. If you start off with such a complex and stimulating event or location, you may be doomed from the beginning,” she says.
“Teach your child clear expectations and important safety rules by discussing them with them. The next step is to guide them through the experience, gently reminding them of the expectations and rules.”
And don’t expect perfect results.
“[Expecting perfection] from any child the first time around, especially a toddler, is unrealistic. Kids learn through repetition. It takes time.”