active toddler, freedom, language, leashing, parenting advice, safety, safety harness, safety-harnessing, tethering, toddlers, walks in the woods
Listen, I don’t actually care too much how contentious it sounds: my son needs a leash.
Jax and I are an active pair. We like to take walks in the woods and to the playground. We like to take a quick walk around our neighborhood before dinner. We like to take drives to the lake—Raystown Lake, if you know Central PA at all—stroll down to the water’s edge, and throw rocks, look at fish, examine flowers and pine cones and the little freshwater mussels that abound on the muddy shore.
And on all of these outings, there is some kind of drama that involves me lecturing Jax on the importance of holding mama’s hand so he doesn’t tumble into the water, over a bank, or off a hiking trail into a tick-, snake-, and spider web-infested war zone.
When I say “tumble,” what I mean is, “rush willingly headlong toward,” because my child, while quite steady on his feet, is afraid of exactly nothing, knows only one speed (top), and is generally a force that cannot be contained.
So he needs a leash.
The PC term is “safety harness.” Apparently, according to Amazon reviewers of said product and a few nosy people who offer me unsolicited parenting advice on the regular, leashing is child abuse. Tethering or harnessing, however, is a perfectly acceptable term and practice designed to give your child the freedom to wander and explore with boundaries, and to give you, the too-old-and-tired-to-run-constant-interference parent, a hands-free insurance policy for walks in the woods.
Sign me up.
I just ordered a cute owl backpack leash, er, safety harness that will arrive in two days (thanks, Prime). We shall see. It has to be better than insisting Jax hold my hand and then trying to keep him from pulling his arm out of the socket when he decides playing dead until I let go is more fun, right?
And hey, he gets to run more. Which means he’s gonna get tired. I’m blessed with a two-and-a-half-year-old who sleeps like a log for at least 12 hours a night and still takes two-hour naps, but those days are numbered. I say, let the boy run his cute little behind off…while I hold onto a stuffed owl’s four-foot tail. Do owls have tails? Or is it just a tail feather?
The precise wording matters, you know.
I hesitate to even ask, but…thoughts on tethering toddlers?
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We’ve used one many times. Mainly at large festivals, or at the ocean. I have a friend who uses a retractable leash on hers, so as to give her son 16 blessed feet of freedom. I’m not sure how I feel about that, or about the use of one in everyday situations. The leash really does just become an extension of your hand, and I do feel that the toddler type heavier issues are absolutely not diminished by the use of a harness. That said, in situations where those behavior problems can cause safety issues, the harness is wonderful to have! On another note, I call it a leash.