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#AskAlyson: Toddler Harnesses/ Leashes?

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Hi Alyson,

Quick question for you (hopefully!).  How do you feel about the use of toddler harnesses or leashes?  My son is 3 years old and he bolts so quickly I am worried he is going to get hit by a car, bit by a dog, or get to close to someone with COVID.   Harnesses seem inhumane – but so is having your child get hurt when you could have prevented it.  Thoughts?





I agree – safety first! Impulse control can take some time to develop.  Till then, keep him safe with the harness when you go on outings.  There are cute one’s that look like back packs or monkey tails.  Pay no attention to what other parents think.  You know your child and the risk factors your accounting for.


In order to help them develop more control and to listen when you say “stop” such as when they are crossing the road or are behind cars in parking lots, you will need to do some training with him.  Create excursions in safe places to show him that if he walks safely without bolting and if he listens when you stay stop, then he can have his freedom to walk independently. If he runs or doesn’t listen to stop – then he losses that freedom and has to hold your hand again.  Be prepared for him to bolt.  Don’t be angry.  Just scope up his hand and say “It looks like you still need my help. We need to be safe”.  Walk to the next drive way and say “would you like to try again?”.   Keep repeating until you can successfully let go of his hand and he stays close and stops when you request it.  This may require you to go on these training outing for months, but eventually he will grow into this maturity.  Till then – you have the harness for your regular outings!


About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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