Is it Okay to Use Leashes for Kids?

aaaAre Child Harnesses Cute or Cruel?

In the past I’ve seen parents and caregivers use harnesses with their children in public. When used properly the harnesses are actually cute. When I’ve seen the harnesses used it never appeared as if the adult was walking the child like a dog. The harness was loose, the harness looks like a backpack , and both child and adult seem happy and fine. I thought it was a brilliant way to ensure a caregiver and child will not get separate in a busy public setting.

But, while picking up a nanny friend at the airport last week I saw a child harness being used in a terrible fashion. The parent was pulling the harness more like a leash.

If used properly I think harnesses can help ensure no separation of caregiver and child. Part of the benefit of using a child harness may be that it allows the caregiver to keep their hand free while still keeping children safe. But after seeing the insensitive use of a child harness as a leash at the airport I would have to say holding hands or simply using a stroller the more appropriate way to keep track of kids.

What do you think?


  1. When my own son was a toddler, and we would walk in a mall, etc., he didn't always want to hold my hand, so I did get a harness, and he loved it! I never pulled it. It was just our way of staying connected. I would say that if there is ever a situation when you feel the need to "pull" the child, you should probably be picking them up, or putting them in a stroller, because they are not cooperating anyway, and what are you going to do? Drag them around on the floor? I don't think so. It may mean it's time to leave the place, and regroup. Obviously, if you have a plane to catch, you can't leave, but you should have a backup plan for the harness.

  2. One place I thought it was a particularly great idea: the Grand Canyon. Those parents looked very, very smart to me.

  3. Yes I agree if used right they are very helpful

  4. As a Nanny I can see great use for them. Ive used them in the past with toddlers who don’t want to hold my hand, but at the same time want to walk like a big boy/girl. They shouldn’t be used to treat the child like a dog, but there are times when you do find yourself pulling because of safety reasons. The only time I can ever remember pulling on it was to stop a toddler from stepping off onto a busy road and within seconds of stopping him I picked him up appologised for scaring him and then showed him what was wrong and how busy the road was.

  5. I think it very much depends. Usually they are unnecessary, but sometimes they can be useful.

    If you have a child with ADHD or who just likes to drop your hand and run then it’s useful to have a back up. The harness acts as a safety net – you still hold their hand but the strap will kick in if they wriggle free from your grip.

    If you have triplets or many under fives the harness can be used as an extra hand, it’s not always possible to hold everyone’s hand on a narrow pavement by a busy road.

    Pulling on a harness while the child dawdles behind, or having the child run ahead and strain at the limit, are not right, that’s when it becomes a leash. The aim should still be to teach the child to walk with you and hold your (or a sibling’s) hand. A safety harness is only there in the hope it doesn’t get used.

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