using reins without causing a control issue? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 04:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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hello fellow mamma's

Apologies if this has been done many many times before (but I want some advice that is unique to my situation) or any BTDT advice...

 

My little explorer (19m) loves freedom, loves the adventure of discovering new places, loves to run ahead and is does not appreciate having to hold hands with mamma - something we always do near roads/in carparks etc. He does not enjoy pushchair time or being carried unless he is tired. One of my favourite places to stroll is the local marina (lots of coffee shops/art galleries etc etc) but recently this is becoming extremely stressfull as he wants to check out the boats, run ahead all the while I become more and more anxious that he may fall/jump from the marina wall.... we both just ended up so frustrated.

 

I try to parent in a flexible way that utilises (in my mind) the best of AP and TCC, this is what has always been natural and instinctive for me. I do not 'hover' and it is my instinctive thought that I should NOT use reins with my little explorer because that would be imposing control/abusing my power as a parent and taking away his right to freely use his own body. I guess reins would be very un-TCC because it shows how little trust I have in my child's ability to act safely....

 

I guess im looking for reassurance that reins are not as bad as I imagine or creative solutions that I havent thought of. I think they would lessen MY frustrations because the safety concerns would be less (although they may add to my son's frustrations) I dont want to cut out the marina walks from our lives.  

 

Thanks in advance for any thoughts. Im in turmoil x


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#2 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 05:43 AM
 
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By reins, I assume you mean some sort of harness? I'm not sure exactly what they're called in the US, which is where I live. I will say the're not all that frequently used here, even with very "mainstream" parents. Yea, I would agree with you that reins would not be all that inline with the general philosophy we often come away with from reading The Continuum Concept. I'm not sure if they fall within the dogma of AP or not. 

 

What I will say is that I think I would come to the decision about whether these are right for my child without considering whether they fit in any particular philosophy. It really doesn't matter, yk?  What does matter is if using them feels good to you and our child. I would be asking questions such as: 

 

  • Do these help me and my child feel secure exploring? 
  • Does my child feel comfortable using these? 
  • Is my child learning positive expectations if/when we used these?
  • Are there underlying issues that we are not addressing when using these as a solution?  
  • Are there better alternatives? 

 

Good luck to you, whatever you decide! 


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#3 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 06:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your considerate reply. by reins I do mean a harness-type thing with a leash, and it does feel like an un-natural parenting choice to me. I guess I referred to parenting philosophies to gauge what other (like-minded) parents would say about the use of such equipment. Im just reaching out for alternatives to what is clearly not working for me and my explorer.

 

Thank you for your ideas of questions to ask myself - as I was reading I cam up with these quick answers in my mind

 

  • Do these help me and my child feel secure exploring? 

Yes, it would make me feel more secure. My child? Idk.

  • Does my child feel comfortable using these? 

I imagine he would. He likes to carry a backpack from time to time - but I imagine unless I hover right near him then the leash will give him some frustration as he reaches its limitation point...

  • Is my child learning positive expectations if/when we used these?

Nope. He will learn that momma believes the world to be a scary place :'(

  • Are there underlying issues that we are not addressing when using these as a solution?

 Only perhaps my anxieties. And lack of trust in my child to not make dangerous/impulsive decisions.

  • Are there better alternatives?

Im trying to think of more. Holding hands or only visiting 'safer' places seems like all I can come up with, neither are any more appealing...

 

If anything, your response and my reflection has led me to the conclusion that I really should trust my initial instictive thought that such equipment is not appropriate for my child. Back to the drawing board :)


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#4 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 07:17 AM
 
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When my daughter was about 16 months old, we started meeting up with another girl her age and her mother at Barnes and Noble.  We'd take them to the cafe and they were all over the place.  We spent most of the time doing damage control and chasing the girls all over the place.  My daughter is 28 months old now, and a few months we took the 2 girls to a fancy lunch at an art museum.  We didn't use high chairs, but the girls stayed right there with us.  The difference that 9 months makes!!! 

 

I would say, perhaps forego the marina for a few months in favor of a place where you feel like your child can explore safely AND freely.  Try again every month or two, perhaps with another parent to do the chasing.  Make sure to go there at times when your child is most likely to feel compliant (not hungry or tired, etc.).  I think if you just hold out, the issue may resolve itself as your son matures a bit over the next six months or so. 

 

Another thing you could try - could you bring a wagon, push-trike, etc. for him instead of doing the stroller?  Maybe that would provide enough containment for you but enough freedom for him. 

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#5 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 09:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alittlemischief View Post

  • Is my child learning positive expectations if/when we used these?

Nope. He will learn that momma believes the world to be a scary place :'(

  • Are there underlying issues that we are not addressing when using these as a solution?

 Only perhaps my anxieties. And lack of trust in my child to not make dangerous/impulsive decisions.

 

 

A 19-mo-old is impulsive by definition.  You cannot trust his decision-making skills, and please don't feel guilty about it.  If going to the marina is important to you, a safety harness is a great way to keep your child safe but still let him explore and burn up some energy.  He won't learn that the world is a dangerous place, just that the water is an important place to be extra careful.  

Like newmammalizzy said, a few months make a world of difference.  I gave our harness away when I felt he was old enough to understand basic rules and basic concepts like "running into the street is dangerous," or "that lake is for fish, not for you."

In the right setting, other parents will look at it and ask you where you bought such an ingenious device.  If it lowers your anxiety, there's no harm in trying it.

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#6 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 11:27 AM
 
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The first time I saw a harness being used I thought it was crazy, over the years I have seen them and realize they are like anything, it's HOW you use it and WHY that matters, not JUST that you use it.
If you use it to leash you kid to your side while you ignore them so you can finish your mocha, then you are treating them like a dog, a dog you don't like very much. And yes I have seen this.

But if you use it to be a back up system of safety so that you CAN allow your child to start exploring more and more, then it's a useful tool. But like any tool it needs to be correctly and not in leu of attentive parenting.

I have twins that are 20m and I can't run in two direction at once, so if I want to let my kids out of the stroller I need to be in a small fenced area or else the monkey backpacks with "tails mommy holds" come out to play.

It helps them learn the plain unmeaning reality that there are in fact always limits in the world. Streets are for cars, people only go on crosswalks. Public fountains are for pennies and birds, we have our kiddy pool back home for kids.

So here are my replies to the questions posed above:
  • Do these help me and my child feel secure exploring? 

    Yes, they know I'm nearby, but letting then go do something, within reason.
  • Does my child feel comfortable using these? 

    Not at first, but they don't like warm coats at first either or hats, but parto f growing up, is getting used to new things, they don't even seem to notice them now unless they are cranky, but by that time even eir shoes piss them off.
  • Is my child learning positive expectations if/when we used these?

    YES YES YES, they get to be around way more of the world than they could without them. Last week they both used them to go and dance to the music of a street performer. There was a busy street really close behind them, no way I could have let them dance there, it would have been truly irresponsible without this safety net.
    It would have been truly dining them a great experience if they hadn't gotten to boogie down to at guy.
  • Are there underlying issues that we are not addressing when using these as a solution?  
    no as folks have said this impulsiveness and unaware nature is simply age and lack of experience, so these are helping me teach, not letting me slack off. When they get older and more talkative and can demonstrate understanding and self control, we will haven't need for them.
  • Are there better alternatives? 
    I doubt it, I would love a crew of helpers to watch them, but that's not happening, the secret service is busy elsewhere, so this is my available tool.

Good

partners.gif 2twins.gif  So what if I don't fit cleanly into a defined parenting style, my kids don't fit into a personality archetype either!

 
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#7 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 11:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Adorkable~ View Post


But if you use it to be a back up system of safety so that you CAN allow your child to start exploring more and more, then it's a useful tool. But like any tool it needs to be correctly and not in leu of attentive parenting.

yeahthat.gif

 

It's not about curtailing the child, it's more about a safety net. You are able to pull the child back if it's really necessary, and having that security means the child can do things they otherwise couldn't. We aren't at this point yet with our daughter (14 months) but i could see doing it if the alternative were not letting her walk around at all when she wanted to. We do baby gates to keep her off the stairs, and close bathroom doors to keep her out of toilets. A leash doesn't seem too dissimilar to these--the intention is the same--to let the child have the run of the space, but limit them from the few parts of the space that are unsafe for them. You can modify your own house, but harder to do in a public space.

 

Also, like ThreeTwoFive said, they are impulsive and not great decision-makers at this age by definition, which isn't bad.

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#8 of 11 Old 09-02-2012, 06:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all! 

 

I've come to the conclusion that we are not going to use them right now, going with newmamalizzy's experience in how quickly toddlers mature (and anyway isnt there meant to be a natural 'phase' of becoming more cautious that toddlers go through at some point?). But thanks to everyone's kind comments I have opened my mind and no longer feel like it would necassarily be a terrible thing to do if the time comes that Im stressing more and become neurotic (adorkable, your answers to those questions were so different to mine, but so very true, I appreciate your positivity)! I mean we bought safety gates, but Id say about 90% of the time they are wide open - they are there for the times when I really feel like I cant rush up and down the stairs (ie when cooking) and I dont feel guilt in using them! 

 

Thanks again x

 

PS - twothreefive - im certainly going to steal the 'lake is for fish and not for you' phrase, I love that! 

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#9 of 11 Old 09-02-2012, 11:07 AM
 
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I make my 20 month old hold my hand in the parking lot, crossing the street, busy crowds (aka State fair or similar) and the like no matter how much he detests it.  I gently remind him each and every time that, "You have to hold Mommy's hand when we're _________."  He kind of expects it now and even reaches up for my hand when we walk out the door.  Trust me it was more of a struggle initially to get him to accept this and occasionally he does test his boundaries.  As far as other places I am a lot more relaxed and he has mostly free reign of our house, friends or relatives houses, the yard, playground, public places where I can easily see him nearby, etc.  The older he gets the less he'll need to be supervised in areas where there are traffic.  I also think it depends on where you live because living in a busy high traffic area in a larger city for instance Chicago is different than crossing a dirt road in the country.


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#10 of 11 Old 09-03-2012, 07:29 PM
 
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Worry less about the parenting philosophy you have.  Tactics and approaches sometimes have to change, as our little ones often present us with unique situations, such as this.

 

I'd say focus first on safety.  You say that LOs actions now are concerning to you.  Acknowledge that for the real concern that it is, and don't second guess yourself.  Be open to the idea of a harness and try one for a while to see if it helps.  

 

The other thing I'd suggest keeping in mind is that he is still small.  At 20 months, I hoped that my own son would grow out of the same behaviors you are describing.  He is now almost 3, and he has not.  He is bigger and faster now, and much more difficult to pick up or hold hands with in difficult situations.  If using a harness now encourages your son to stay slightly closer to you and out of harm's way, it may lead to much safer behaviors later on.  

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#11 of 11 Old 09-03-2012, 08:19 PM
 
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Just FYI, a 19 mo does NOT know how to act safely. Don't feel you need to conform to a certain "style" of parenting and eschew the laws of reality. You are totally correct in thinking that you need some additional help keeping your son safe. Don't feel guilty about that.

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