Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On using a leash on kids

Got this questionnaire from a friend:

It's interesting how some parents/guardians opt to use a leash when outdoors with young kids (I usually see this at the mall).

I'm doing a short article for Baby mag about this and am asking parents' their ideas on the use of a leash. Pls. feel free to give your two cents

Here are the questions on my mind:

* What do you think about using a leash on kids (toddlers specifically) when outdoors? Do you think it's helpful/horrible/a brilliant tool for parents?

* Do/did you use one on any of your kids?

* Any experiences you'd like to relate, whether your own, those of friends/relatives or of strangers you've seen, concerning the leash?


Here goes:

I have four kids, all boys, aged 21, 19, 15, and 4.

As the three older kids are all already grown up and prefer to go out on their own, it is now only my 4 year-old tyke who remains excited (and insistent) to tag along with us outdoors, especially to the mall. In fact, one of his favorite lines is “Punta tayo SM!”. As he is a particularly frisky, strong-willed and adventurous toddler, most of the time it is my wife and I who feel we are on a leash whenever we are with him. Quite predictably whenever we are out, we find ourselves dragged to anything remotely resembling toy stores within his sight. He has an uncanny navigation system towards where the toys are, and has very powerful persuasive skills to boot. By the time we go home, more often than not, he is gleefully clutching a fresh acquisition.

Anyway, to answer the first question, I think parents using a leash on kids are motivated more by attentive care more than anything else. Granted it does look quite ridiculous, as leashes are commonly meant for, well…dogs. However, some kids are particularly frisky, too heavy to carry, hyper-adventurous (like mine), and there is always the risk of the kid breaking things in shops, causing injury to himself or worse - getting out of sight. There is little else more horrifying than losing sight of your kid in the populous outdoor. I guess the sincere concerns outweigh the image problem. The problem really here is how other people around you look at it. As long as it won’t cause any psychological problem or any sort of injury to the child, using a leash seems proportionately reasonable.

No, it never occurred to me to use a leash on any of my kids. With respect to the 4-year old, we make it a point that there is at least 2 or 3 adult companions (my wife and I plus 1 kuya or yaya), to accompany him. At any rate, I’m sure he would strongly protest if we attempted to put a leash on him. This got me into thinking. Maybe in the future when I am too old (and forgetful) to go out on my own, then it’s the turn of my grown-up children to accompany me. I hope by then they won’t ever consider using a leash.



sunnyday said...

Good points there, Willy. Thanks for taking the time to make kwento and explain your take on the issue.

I was told using the leash is much more common in the West, and that makes me wonder -- based on what I know, Westerners seem to be more emphatic when disciplining their kids and more proactive in many aspects of parenting (on our shores, tingin ko relatively passive ang maraming parents). So despite the discipline enforced by parents in the US or Europe on their toddlers and they still have the need to use those leashes on their little ones, could it mean that the behavior is part of being a toddler? And how much does temperament figure in (temperament of the child, not the parent)?

So, I really appreciate your input. I've yet to talk with a mom or dad who advocates the use of the leash so I can include his/her insights in the article.

WillyJ said...

Interesting ideas, sunnyday.

Maybe Westerners have a different concept of discipline than Asians. Asians may employ a passive, laid-back approach but the parenting culture is more authoritarian. Using leashes seems more like an engineering approach, like what MMDA does with all those fences to force pedestrians to stay on designated areas. My opinion is that a disciplined disposition is more mature when it is psychologically ingrained rather than physically enforced.

All toddlers are not yet in a position to adequately recognize and appreciate danger, be they Westerners, Asians, with or without leashes. Using leashes may minimize the risks, but they don't really teach discipline. All of them still have to be molded, like clay. That is where temperament comes in.

Child rearing must take into account the properties of the clay itself. The analogy is that although clay may be shaped, it can only be shaped to the extent that its specific properties allow. The scientific explanation maybe due to recessive and dominant behavior genes. So each child would have different temperaments and the molding process should be attuned. That might explain why some toddlers need to be leashed, some do not.
My 4 kids have different temperaments. Also, consider the radical differences in these O.T. brothers: Cain and Abel, Solomon and Absalom, even Jacob and Esau - who are twins.

Finally, here is a good passage from Proverbs 22:6

"Train a boy in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it."

sunnyday said...

Wala pa akong masabi. Still ruminating the ideas you put forth! That temperament thing is really interesting...