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Tips for an adventurous toddler without using a leash..

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

So I got 5 mins into the to leash or not to leash threads and gave up. I'm not really looking for debate, I'm looking for helpful tips from mums of runners who have managed without leashes as I feel they are not for us. That is not a judgement on anyone else cause you got to do what works for your family. So Anyway its late and I need my internet time for work stuff so tips would be greatly appreciated.

 

DS 17mo is spirited and a wanderer. We live in a small town and I'm a SAHM/WAHM so mostly this is ok, we will often take all morning to get to the shops and home - I let him lead the way and eventually we get there in a round about way, I just pick him up to cross the road. In the supermarket he's in the trolley or on my shoulders or running around. When I let him lead its all good. But sometimes I do have a timeframe or I want to stop and chat and he doesn't do still he just runs off without even turning to check I'm following so its stroller, backpack or shoulders or hip, he squirms but I figure he has to learn to do what I need to do sometimes too. 

 

 We're heading away for a trip and I was just wondering if anyone had ideas. Usually DH and I just tag each other and take turns on DS watch when in airports etc. The reason I'm wondering is we're going to a massive festival and if he did get away its not like here where every other shop keep knows him and DH is the local cop.. it'd be kinda big deal..so besides writing our mobile no's on his arms or getting id bracelets and vigilance vigilance vigilance any tips?

 

post #2 of 17

I did end up using a leash with my DS occasionally, but it was literally a matter of life and death with him where I live. (busy streets, needing to run errands with just DS and myself, needing to carry things, etc)  But, the thing that really helped us in the end when he was finally learning to walk with me without running was to play a "Stop and Go" game.  We would be walking together holding hands and I would say "STOP!" and then stop my feet and stamp them really loud and hard, which he thought was super funny and he would do the same thing.  Then I would say "GO!" and start walking again (never running).  I would let him say "STOP!" and "GO!" too and I always, always listened to his "STOP!" and stopped whatever I was doing unless it was not safe to stop (in the middle of a street).  He eventually got so into it that he would stop the instant I said "STOP!", and although it was often only for a second, it was usually enough time for me to get to him if he was somewhere that he was unsafe.

 

Good luck mama, it can be so scary to have a runner.  Honestly though, I would bring a leash with you on your trip and if you never have to use it, then that is great, but if you need it for safety, it can be a lifesaver, literally.  My son nearly ran out into the street three times when he was little and if it hadn't been for a stranger nearby each time, he absolutely would have been hit by a car.  No judgment here or arguing, just compassion from one mama who had a runner to another. 

post #3 of 17

I wouldn't really call DS adventurous but running off is sometimes one of his favorite things to do in public... not sure how these ideas will work with a more fearless kid!

 

One thing that helps us is to give DS a task... usually pushing the cart or carrying a bag or something on that idea. Sometimes just giving him something to hold on to (a strap from my bag, for ex.) keeps him by my side -- which is I guess the same premise as the leash although he's only holding it with his hand, it's not wrapped around him in any way (so you still have to watch to make sure he doesn't take off).

 

We've taken DS to big festivals and usually DH or I just makes a beeline after him & keep him always right in eyesight & arm's reach (which means a lot of running on our parts at times & not much enjoyment of the festival!) We don't really use a stroller but if you/DS don't mind using one that might be a way to contain him at least long enough to give yourself a break from the constant vigilance. Or a push car/push bike that he can ride in instead.

post #4 of 17

DD loves to run around, and sometimes she listens well, but I really can't count on that.  Sometimes, being in a totally unfamiliar place will get her to stick a little closer to me, but not always.  We always start her in a carrier.  She's usually happy there for a little while as long as we keep moving.  Then, it's about responding to her needs.  I live literally across the street from where most of the festivals are in my city, and so we've had a good bit of experience what the good and bad of that.

 

Go when it's less crowded if you can.  The more crowded it is, the harder it is to keep him safe when he's on the ground.  Keep him in a carrier or stroller as long as you can so that you can see as much as you can.  If he wants down, find an appropriate place to do that.  A lot of musicians love to have children dancing during their performances (if the volume isn't too loud), or the crowd isn't so bad if you step out of the bounds of the festival so that he can take a walking break.  If you set him down in the crowd, you really have to be right behind him and have a parent devoted just to him.  People won't see him down there, and he could get bumped or stepped on if you aren't looking out for him.  Once he's walking around, it's probably difficult to get him back into a stroller or carrier as long as he's interested in what he's doing, so if things get out of hand, you may need to leave.

 

We went to a big arts festival last summer when DD was about 16 months old, and we went early when it was less crowded, had a nice dinner, let her down to play in the tot section, and then she wanted to walk around the festival.  7:00 hit, and all of a sudden, they were slammed with people.  DH followed her around while I shopped, and then I followed her around while he got desert, but it was so crowded that we were having a really hard time keeping track of each other and communicating and getting her to stay in one place to make decisions.  If we'd both had cell phones, it might have been easier.  It was so crowded that we finally just left.  I was afraid that she was going to get stepped on.  I ended up carrying my screaming and struggling toddler all the way out of the park.  Then, she happily walked home.

 

From all the times she's walked around at festivals, I'd say it's reasonably likely that a point will come that things are out of hand and you need to be able to make a quick decision about what to do (step out and regroup, split and let one parent leave with him and the other go back and buy stuff, find a place for him to walk safely, leave completely, or something else).  The part where I'm trying to talk to my husband about what to buy while my daughter is either running off or screaming because I'm holding her is what stresses me out.  Planning ahead what should be done when you reach that point so that all you have to communicate is that you've reached it, and you know what you're going to do is really helpful.

 

It's great that you're thinking ahead about this.  Planning ahead how to meet your child's needs will go far in preventing a lot of problems.  You'll do great!  Putting your cell phone numbers on his arm or back is also a great idea, not that you expect to need it, but just in case.  Good luck!

post #5 of 17

I don't really see any solutions for wanderer at a festival (if you won't use the leash...even that won't work in tight crowds because of the size difference) except a stroller or wearing the child until you get to a clearer area where they can play.  Trying to follow a tiny person through a crowd of tall people is hit or miss.  

post #6 of 17

For walking by yourselves, "STOP" games are great. For crowds, you'll need physical contact, meaning holding hands, carrying, stroller, whatever works for you.

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for some good ideas. I like the stop/go idea. Obviously it would be harder at the festival cause he'll be super stimulated but it may help us for day to day stuff. I'm thinking he'll find the stop stamping feet hilarous. I'm going to try it at the park this arvo.

post #8 of 17

i've found that hoods from hoodies are great to hold onto in a bind.

post #9 of 17

I just hold my DS' hand all the time.  He doesn't wander around other than at a park or something. 

post #10 of 17

I started a leash or not to leash thread a while back and we are still struggling with this.  We ended up not getting one, but sometimes wish we had one.  I agree with the previous poster about the hoods, in a desperate pinch it works.

 

Does your DS have anything he loves like a blanket or lovie?  DD has a blanket that she LOVES and we can sometimes use that like a leash in that she holds one end and we hold the other (DH call her his little trout as you can feel her tugging on the "line"love.gif)...not always the best option, but will work for shorter periods of time.  We have also found that sometimes a straw cup, snack or push toy helps to slow her down a bit.  Of course DD hates strollers and won't sit in one for more than a few minutes, but she will tolerate her push trike, that has been a lifesaver! 

 

Good luck and have a great time! thumb.gif

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

He'll do strollers for a very short time, mostly just for naps though. We have a great push trike with a handle but are travelling by plane so it won't fit. His only love for toys at the moment are matchbox cars. We have a great travel case called a trunkie that is also a push toy which saved us in the airport last week. And he does like being up in the backpack for a while. I really appreciate people taking the time to answer. I remember reading the Contimuum Concept when I was pregnant and a bit in that about how kids in the jungle never ran off from their parents and thinking it would be so much easier. DS is just so free spirited that even holding hands has to be on his terms and we've learned to be easy going except where safety is concerned. I was pretty happy today when we were playing in the neighbours yard and and he stopped at the curb and pointed at the road and then turned around (whenever we get to a road or carpark I point out that the ground is black tarmac now and he needs up or hand hold) so maybe a week or two of the stop go gam metioned by a pp will stick and be fun for him....

post #12 of 17

I have a spirited 28 month old.  For the scenarios you describe, I often wear him on my back in an Ergo.  He is normally in perpetual motion, yet the Ergo is one of the few places I can count on him being calm (and safe!).  I give him many opportunities to walk down the street holding my hand (coffee shop, park, post office), but if any shopping is involved, or if its time sensitive, I wear him.  My dad bought us a leash with a teddy bear on it and they've used it 3 or 4 times and it works for them, but I've been too vain to give it a try (its goofy looking. . . ).  DS does ask to wear the leash in the house though; he thinks he is wearing an Ergo!

 

For trips by plane and train, the Ergo has been a lifesaver.  I strap him on and don't need free hands to push a stroller or hold his hand; I am able to pull a rolling bag instead.  And I don't fear loosing him.

 

Ergos are pricey, and I didn't get mine until he was 12 months, but its worth every penny and it can be resold easily to recoup some of the high cost.

 

My life will change significantly when he is too big for the Ergo. . . not looking forward to it!

post #13 of 17


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jellybeanmumma View Post

He'll do strollers for a very short time, mostly just for naps though. We have a great push trike with a handle but are travelling by plane so it won't fit. His only love for toys at the moment are matchbox cars. We have a great travel case called a trunkie that is also a push toy which saved us in the airport last week. And he does like being up in the backpack for a while. I really appreciate people taking the time to answer. I remember reading the Contimuum Concept when I was pregnant and a bit in that about how kids in the jungle never ran off from their parents and thinking it would be so much easier. DS is just so free spirited that even holding hands has to be on his terms and we've learned to be easy going except where safety is concerned. I was pretty happy today when we were playing in the neighbours yard and and he stopped at the curb and pointed at the road and then turned around (whenever we get to a road or carpark I point out that the ground is black tarmac now and he needs up or hand hold) so maybe a week or two of the stop go gam metioned by a pp will stick and be fun for him....


Children "in the jungle" tended to be worn until they were at least 2.  DD has gotten a whole lot better at sticking with us in the past 3-4 months since she was your DS's age.  I can now sit in one place, and if we're in an unfamiliar place, she won't go far before coming back to me.  It would still be hard at a festival, though, or anywhere where there are a lot of people, because she could be out of view by just going a few feet.  I remember as an older child following somebody around closely for a long time before realizing that he wasn't my dad, and I didn't know where my dad was.  This was when I was old enough to know I didn't want to get lost.

 

Your son is at an age that he can't think through his actions before he does them, and he'd go much further away from you than is safe before he realized that there was a problem.  It won't always be this way, but you have to figure out how to meet his needs while it is.  We have never leashed our adventurous toddler and just worked constantly at helping her take responsibility for her own self, and it's only now at almost 21 months that it is starting to pay off.  She wants to interact with us constantly and doesn't want to go someplace where she can't interact with us, except when exploring our own home.  Crowds are still hard.

post #14 of 17

Let them help. I got DS a little roller backpack with handle (always light enough

 for him to pull). Or having him help with a cart, etc. It helps a TON. If we are in a rush I just pop him in  our ergo sport still. 

post #15 of 17

We live in NYC so I think we need to be stricter than others since we're always near cars and crowds, but for us the rule is always stroller, carrier, carried, or holding hands.  There is no walking in front of me and I'll follow you (except at parks and playgrounds and parties and kids' rooms and places like that).  Stores, sidewalk, restaurants, festivals, etc. we hold hands or you're not walking. 

 

Of course, I make it sound more strict/negative here than it really is.  We just teach it as "Oh, you want to get down from the Ergo?  Ok!  When you get down from the Ergo we'll hold hands to keep you safe." and it takes being consistent and modeling/teaching it a lot.  He also likes holding the side of the stroller.  And yes, if he goes boneless and flops around on the sidewalk because he doesn't want to hold hands then he's back in the Ergo or stroller. 

 

I don't think it's safe to teach him that he can just walk around where ever in public and an adult will follow.  In addition to all the other reasons people don't like leashes, I'll add to the list that it makes toddlers less aware about their own safety in crowds.  I want him to know that it's his job to stay near Mommy, and my job to make sure he stays there too. 

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Children "in the jungle" tended to be worn until they were at least 2.  


I just had a duh moment. I can stop beating myself up about that now! Although we have been wearing him a lot less lately I must admit he does spent a lot of time up on my shoulders which is great weight training as well! These answers were exactly what I was after. I just got to remind myself that running is still pretty new for him so we've got to teach him about how to do it safely.

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Altair View Post

 

 

I don't think it's safe to teach him that he can just walk around where ever in public and an adult will follow.  In addition to all the other reasons people don't like leashes, I'll add to the list that it makes toddlers less aware about their own safety in crowds.  I want him to know that it's his job to stay near Mommy, and my job to make sure he stays there too. 



wave.gif We live in Queens!  I'm not as big a fan of them in crowds, but I do use them when I walk with him on the sidewalk.  Especially if I'm not able to focus my entire attention on him (waiting for a bus, looking after another child, etc) b/c my ds WILL run into the street.  He seriously thinks cars and trucks are the coolest things e.v.e.r. and wants to play with them.  I can't always take a stroller and keep track of the stroller and ds at the same time (b/c ds requires that my eyes seriously never look away from him - and he's fast so a split second and he's in the middle of the street already) and watch where I'm going. 

 

We're working on it, but safety while working on new skills is a must where I am b/c the traffic is horrendous.

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