Originally Posted by Dragonfly
Right. You can't rely on them to adhere to boundaries until a later age. But if you're just walking them around on a leash, then they're not learning anything about boundaries and, at 5 or so, when impulse control is a little better, they still won't know much about boundaries if you don't work with them from an early age. Take dogs, for example - dogs don't learn to stay close when off-leash by being walked on-leash. It's an entirely separate learning process.
I think that you can teach boundaries while you're using a leash, but I also think it's harder because your child doesn't have any need to practice exercising impulse control and you don't really have much of a need to teach when you can just steer them with the leash.
First of all, a child doesn't learn *any* boundaries... if she'd dead. I'd rather my child be a little delayed in learning "boundaries" than flat on a road.
Second, a dog certainly can learn to behave off-leash while being walked on-leash. The objective of on-leash training is to teach the dog to walk at heel with a slack leash, the leash is theoretically only there in case something startles the dog and he bolts. A sight hound can be taught to walk beautifully at heel for hours... but released from heel might still bolt after something it perceives as prey. Conversely, a very social dog like a retriever may never learn to walk on a slack leash, but will never get more than a hundred yards from it's master because that's the dog's natural inclination. Similarly, children have natural inclinations that need to be worked with individually.
Third, how do you teach "boundaries" when you're carrying a child, in arms or a sling, or have him in a stroller? The only way a child can experiment and learn boundaries is by exploring and being corrected eight million times. Sometimes that's appropriate. Other times that's clearly very dangerous. I don't want to be educating my child in an airport or on Times Square. I want to be protecting her. I'll teach her boundaries at the local park, or in a small town, quiet mall on a slow business day.
Fourth, I don't think it's at all unreasonable to teach a child boundaries while on a leash. An appropriate radius for exporation in a park is several hundred yards. An appropriate radius while in a chaotic crowd is about two feet. If my daughter doesn't have the impulse control to stay that close in a crowd, my options are either to restrain her or don't take her into the crowd in the first place. Now, how am I teaching her appropriate boundaries for a crowd if I never take her into a crowd in the first place? Therefore, if I'm trying to teach her by taking her in, I have to restrain her. I have tried to chase her through a very crowded place, and she slips quite easily between people's legs and gets away while I'm busy bowling people over and failing to keep up. If I can teach her to stay close by keeping her on a harness and calling to her every time she pulls against it, it's obviously a lot safer and more effective than trying to teach her by chasing her and praying that I keep up well enough to prevent her from ducking into the street. Chasing her doesn't teach her "boundaries", it teaches her that it's a lot of fun to make Mommy run after her.