Parents can be very modern, open-minded, and innovative while raising their kids. Furthermore, when it comes to their safety, they might be overprotective in ensuring their kids’ safety that is totally understandable. However, there is a discussion going on about the ‘anti-lost safety belts’ that are used to keep the kids beside in a crowd. (An image can be found at the end of the article.) Some people have argued that is a must because some kids are quite naughty while some other states that it is not effective for the long term and it is ethically wrong. The following paragraphs discuss the issue in detail from different perspectives.
First of all, there is no doubt that safety is an emerging concern, particularly in big and crowded cities. Parents choose to either keep their kids at home or institutions or get very anxious when they go out with them. They are, rightfully, scared of people with bad intentions or their kids being handful and get lost. Using safety belts seems like a brilliant solution for them. It helps parents keep their kids in sight and in control so that they can walk freely without any hesitation. On the contrary, what will happen when a kid who has been on leashed becomes an adult? Would s/he have the control of her/his own will? Can s/he take the responsibility of drawing a path for her/his goals? Or eventually will s/he just seek for a rope to lead her/his to a safe destination? Parents should consider their kids’ character and self-development as well. When they behave overly protective, they might take the chance of exploring the environment with their own abilities and curiosity from their kids. When these kids become adults, they may expect some others to define their limits instead of themselves. Rather than keeping them physically away from dangers, it seems like a better solution to encourage them to be aware. Even though their parents are not around, we need to teach them how to protect themselves from unwanted situations so that they can be safe without the belts.
According to Brokenleg and Bockern (2003), adults bear direct responsibility for creating environments where positive growth and resilient outcomes can occur. The Circle of Courage describes the major qualities of such environments: creating opportunities for a child to experience belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity.
Secondly, parents may say that they get exhausted from time to time and have no energy to keep their kids under control so safety belts are very effective solutions for this. When they go out with their friends or just having some ‘me time’ it is good to know that their kids will be in a specific safe area that they know. On the other hand, tying kids with a rope and have this much control over them is not seen ethically right. While leashes are controversial even for animals, we should not use it for humans straightforwardly. I have a suitable example from my personal experience. When I was a kid, my best friend was my cousin who is much younger than me and we were together almost all the time. She was such a crazy girl that makes it even more amazing the time we spent, yet sometimes it was just too hard to take care of her. Then I found a simple solution to keep her close to me and under my control: I tied a rope around her belly and take the end of the rope in my hand. It was so fun for her behaving like a dog and convenient for me to be able to control her. But our happiness did not last long because her mother got mad seeing us like that. She warned me not to tie her daughter or any other kid like an animal because it is insulting. And she told me that even though my cousin was very unpredictable and handful, tying her would not solve the problem if she could not be aware of the dangerous moves and the situations herself. We, humans, have the will and need to learn our limits by the time and the experience, and do not need any collar leashes.
To sum up, the leashes on toddlers is not a wise idea even though the intention is good because it is against kids’ self-development and it is not ethical. I have heard of a saying like if you want a person to sail, do not teach him to build a ship; give them the idea of reaching overseas. For the best of our kids, we should help them develop their own skills mentally and physically instead of providing them a safe environment by taking their freedom. We still have a lot to learn about ideal parenting and of course, there is not only one way to do it. The world is full of plenty of behaviors and solutions for people with different motivations. All we need to do is observe more and improve our parenting skills.
Brokenleg, M., & Bockern, S. V. (2003, March). The Science of Raising Courageous Kids. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 12(1), 22–27.