Photo: The Eddie Bauer Child Harness Buddy from Target
I’m a member of a forum that covers travel. Specifically Disney travel.
Recently, the topic of “kiddie leashes” came up. I knew the moment I read it, there would be differences of opinions.
I’ll be honest- I used to be 100% dead-set against leashes for children. I really thought it was the lazy-parent route. I had a daughter who never needed one, so I thought I could judge.
I. WAS. WRONG.
I became a pre-k teacher nearly 3 years ago. I truly believe God put me in this position so that I could have my eyes opened to how wrong (and how judgmental) I really was.
Now, this article isn’t meant to berate anyone. I really want to open some eyes to this subject.
I have had students that don’t respond to their names. I have had students that truly don’t have the ability to follow a group. I have had students that are not able to follow simple directions.
They are all special needs.
They all look normal.
These parents use leashes to help guide and protect a child, while offering a bit of perceived freedom. These children are free to walk about, interacting and enjoying their environment safely. They are learning independence because they aren’t strapped into a stroller (another subject I’ll be touching on further down) and being held by an adult’s hand.
You would never know looking at the child or the parent that the leash was a life-saver.
In other words, you and I both have no idea why a child is on a leash.
All we can gather, is that the parents are doing what they think is best, for that child. And I applaud them for that.
Now, further on down in the forum, someone says they “Would rather see a child on a leash than a 6 year-old in a stroller”.
That statement fired me up beyond words.
I bring a stroller for my 6 year-old when traveling. Whether it be in an airport or Disney World, my daughter gets tired easily. She still takes naps on occasion.
She’s also 4′ tall.
I am only 5’2.
I am completely unable to carry her through the parks OR at 5:00am in the airport when she crashes. When she’s not tired, it also doubles as a bag holder.
There is nothing wrong with putting an older child in a stroller when they are tired.
OR have special needs.
There are children that have special needs that benefit from being in a stroller. Some children have sensory issues, and fare better when they have their own “space” to escape to. Sometimes, it’s safer navigating through a large crowd with your child in a stroller. There are some children, who are unable to have long-period use of their limbs (I can think of one child (5) specifically- they suffered a stroke as a baby, and as a result is unable to walk for long periods of time).
These children all look normal.
Some of these kids are normal.
But the benefits are the same.
Parents have the right and privilege of deciding what is best for their child.
As long as the child (or anyone for that matter) isn’t being harmed- who are we to judge?
It’s about safety and convenience. I am sure there are very few parents (if any) who use these items out of pure laziness.
I just want everyone to remember that there’s always a bigger picture. We don’t know what people’s lives are like 24/7.
Now, how do you feel about leashes and strollers?