Kid harnesses: OK or not OK?

Last week, we posted a “question of the day” on our Facebook wall asking parents what they thought of harnesses for kids.

The reaction we got surprised us, from “leashes are for dogs, not children” to “better safe than sorry,” with a healthy dose of back-and-forth. So we thought we’d check in with some experts. We posed the question to three different parenting experts, and here’s what they said:

John Rosemond, “traditional parenting” expert

“I think they’re very civilized. They allow a child a fair degree of freedom while still ensuring safety. People tend to have a knee-jerk and, I think silly, emotional reaction because they associate it with treating the child like a dog. I just think that’s foolish. Tethers allow parents to teach their child patiently what he can and cannot touch, which cannot be done from a stroller.”

Mike Ruggles, developmental therapist and star of ABC’s “Super-Manny”

“Harnesses are like anything else: If used intelligently and for the right reasons, I don’t have a problem with it. If you have a really hyperactive child who’s going to bolt at any second, or a low-functioning special-needs child, they can be useful. They’re meant for safety, and if parents are using them for convenience, they should recheck their parenting skills. “

Fran Walfish, child and family therapist

“Toddlers need to learn the internal place of worry when they get too far away from Mommy. He is testing the waters by separating from Mommy, then he turns, looks over his shoulder to see that Mommy is still there, and returns with his independent discovery. Toddler phase is about practicing separation and checking in to reaffirm the attachment. Harnesses sabotage this critical piece of child development.”

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