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#1 of 87 Old 02-15-2010, 03:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I recently took my sister's two children to the park. The younger one is a girl aged 3, the other is her 9 year old brother.
We walked to the park, so my sister told me to put the 3 year old's harness and reins on her (she's a runner, god bless!).

For the return trip though, the brother was unhappy because we didn't stop off to get ice cream. He started chucking a tantrum and ran far ahead. I asked him to stop, but he said no.
Because it was getting dark, I took the reins off his sister and put them on him instead for the remainder of the walk home while holding the girl's hand very firmly (needless to say he was extremely upset with this).

Did I do the right thing, or was it an overreaction?

Also, just out of interest, what would you have done in this scenario if the child was older? Would you still turn to something like reins if the child was 12 or older but they still fit?
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#2 of 87 Old 02-16-2010, 06:48 PM
 
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I wouldn't have put the harness on him, but would have made it very clear that Auntie wouldn't be taking him anywhere anymore (and iterated it to his mother).
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#3 of 87 Old 02-16-2010, 07:08 PM
 
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I think that putting the harness on him was extremely rude. Honestly, he's going to now always remember that you did that to him and he's not going to think kindly of you for it.

I would have held his hand and said that the rule with me was to hold hands for safety. I might even say, "Yes, Auntie is a little overprotective but I want you safe because I love you, plus I want to talk to you." and I'd start asking questions about his likes, dislikes, friends, or anything that he loves to talk about, to keep him engaged and happy.
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#4 of 87 Old 02-16-2010, 07:23 PM
 
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He's 9? I would've talked to him about his frustration and anger over not getting what he wanted. I would've said that his behavior would cause me to think twice before taking him somewhere again. Yes, I think you way overreacted. Most 9 year olds can handle themselves pretty well, and can be trusted to be a bit ahead of the group.

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#5 of 87 Old 02-16-2010, 07:48 PM
 
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Yeah... I'd likely not be too cool with "reins" on a 9yo. That's kind of humiliating.
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#6 of 87 Old 02-17-2010, 12:02 AM
 
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I agree with the other posters. Did your sister get upset? Have you talked to her about it? I have to say, I would be furious if someone did this to my child. At nine kids are able to reason and negotiate their way through issues. They might need a moment to be upset, but from my experience typically they can get over it quickly and move on.

Obviously what is done is done- can you have a talk with him and first apologize, but second explain that you were incredibly frustrated and were at a complete loss as how to handle it?

Did anyone he might know see him? It would be terribly embarassing if so, and a humiliating experience regardless.

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#7 of 87 Old 02-17-2010, 03:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree with the other posters. Did your sister get upset? Have you talked to her about it? I have to say, I would be furious if someone did this to my child. At nine kids are able to reason and negotiate their way through issues. They might need a moment to be upset, but from my experience typically they can get over it quickly and move on.

Obviously what is done is done- can you have a talk with him and first apologize, but second explain that you were incredibly frustrated and were at a complete loss as how to handle it?

Did anyone he might know see him? It would be terribly embarassing if so, and a humiliating experience regardless.
Nobody saw him. That's the thing -- it was getting quite dark, and I really was at a loss as to how to handle it.
Having read the replies and taken their information on board, I would try to approach such a situation differently next time... but I'm still not exactly sure what else I could do. It was a stroke of luck that I managed to get the harness on him anyway, because he was pretty intent on running away from me; he absolutely wasn't going to hold my hand.
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#8 of 87 Old 02-17-2010, 03:51 AM
 
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Ya know.. you acted quickly, and handled it the best that you knew how to at the time. Don't beat yourself up, seriously. It's over kwim. I like the other advice given from the PP's, and firmly saying " You need to listen to me, or there will be no more Auntie taking you to the park" I bet you were scared since it was getting dark.. In the future, I wouldn't use the harness, but please don't beat yourself up for it (yes, I said it twice lol) Ask your sis what she would have done, would she have let him just run home, than gave him consiquences when he got there? If the park isn't too far, than that could be an option given his age. You have a good point though, I mean, if he is absolutly refusing to listen, and running, and he's too big to physically restrain *hold hands or carry* what do you do? Especially when you also have a 3 y/o in your care.

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#9 of 87 Old 02-17-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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Um, with all due respect, YES. Way, way, way overreacted. The child is 9. Unless you were somewhere very, very sketchy, he would probably be fine running ahead of you, even in the dark. And if it were that sketchy, none of you should have been walking. Especially if this were an area that he was familiar with.

I'm sure that this was humiliating to him and that is never the right answer. Especially given that this was a public situation and there was, I assume, a risk of him running into someone he knew.

Its done and can't be undone. I do think you owe him (and his mother) an apology for overreacting and not thinking clearly. What to do next time? Let him go. Really. And when everyone is home, calmly explain that since you can't trust him to stay with you there won't be any more park trips for a while.
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#10 of 87 Old 02-17-2010, 06:29 PM
 
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Small voice of dissent here... If the child isn't willing to negotiate, discuss or express themselves, what else would the natural consequence be?
Threats? When a child is upset (9 year olds too) sometimes they don't care about future consequences, just how they are feeling in the moment especially if they get a lot of "I don't like you doing that, Auntie won't take you in the future." He was concerned about the treat not the time with Auntie.
Letting him run off if they are close to home sounds like a good idea barring the kid having hurt feelings and not running home. What if he ran away and hid because he was mad?
OP's responsibility was to get the kids home to their mom safely and I think that she accomplished that.
As to it being humiliating to have a harness and reigns put on him, can you imagine him forgetting that lesson? Also, kids get privileges when they act up to those privileges. He was acting out and by that doesn't he forfeit certain things?
Granted it isn't ideal because it is a physical power struggle... but it was creative.
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#11 of 87 Old 02-17-2010, 06:44 PM
 
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Um, with all due respect, YES. Way, way, way overreacted. The child is 9. Unless you were somewhere very, very sketchy, he would probably be fine running ahead of you, even in the dark. And if it were that sketchy, none of you should have been walking.
Definitely. I am trying to pick my chin up off the ground here. Putting the harness on him was 100% unnecessary and completely humiliating. I have a nine year old, and something like that would end the relationship with you in her eyes.

If you could manage to catch up with him to even put it on him, why couldn't you just stay within eyesight and walk home, and not take him again if he couldn't be trusted to stay nearby?

I'd call and apologize to him and to his mother. And I wouldn't be surprised if it takes a long time to rebuild trust/affection with your nephew.
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#12 of 87 Old 02-17-2010, 06:59 PM
 
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Overreaction big time unless he's got some special needs. I have a 9 yr old and there is no reason in the world to put a harness on a developmentally neuro-typical 9 yr old child. I hope you apologized to both the child and his mom.

If you could give some more particulars I can tell you what I would have done. Talking would be my first tactic. Empathize with his disappointment. Brainstorm other solutions (another time to get ice cream, a special treat to have at home, etc). Invite him to help you come up with a solution. If you're still having difficulty a call to mom or announcing that you'll need to call mom might do the trick. Harness is basically equivalent to putting him in diapers or a stroller. Really humiliating.

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#13 of 87 Old 02-17-2010, 07:37 PM
 
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OP: You came here asking a question, and for help. Ok, so next time, you know what to do. We ALL make mistakes, I don't think he'll be damaged, or hate you forever. And if he does show some dislike towards you, it's an easy fix: Sit him down and explain to him that you didn't know what to do, you wanted to keep him safe, and you acted quickly. Next time you expect him to behave so Aunti won't get scared. Period. I dont' think you are a bad person, or committed child abuse by any means. You didn't beat him into submission ya know.. You acted on impulse, and used a harness you already were instructed to use on the 3 year old, and put in in place for the 9 year old that you were afraid you were losing control with. Next time, let him run. Lesson learned. Next time, I bet he wont run off, so lesson learned for him too. If you were babysitting my kids, and this happened, I wouldn't be mad at you, NO. You clearly didn't know what to do..you kept my child safe. I would have just told you that when he acts like this, you are allowed to let him run off. I can just really sympathize with you.. We dont' use harness' of any kind, but I've also never been in a situation where an older child was running away from me out in public. Please don't beat yourself up.

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#14 of 87 Old 02-17-2010, 09:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies everyone, and thank you for your rather uplifting reply Kailey's Mom.

I'll be sure to talk it out with him next time I visit them.
Also, thanks for pointing out other solutions; I'm not a parent myself, I simply mind the kids from time to time as a favor to my sister... sometimes it's a little scarier than I'd like. With that said, though, I'll heed the given advice in future.
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#15 of 87 Old 02-17-2010, 09:59 PM
 
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Interesting. I see this as a safety issue. If my oldest (7 y.o. DD) runs from me on an unfamiliar, darkening street where there might be traffic and refuses to listen to me requests to walk with me, then I will use whatever is at my disposal to keep her safe. Dusk is the most dangerous time to be walking - it is hard for pedestrians to be seen by drivers. I would rather my (uncooperative) child be humiliated than hit by a car. I wouldn't trust an angry 9 year old to make the best choices about his own safety. He lost his aunt's trust by running away.

I don't think the OP overreacted. I think she made the best possible choice under the circumstances.

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#16 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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I don't think the OP overreacted. I think she made the best possible choice under the circumstances.
I agree. I also see this as a safety issue. It only takes two seconds for a car to hit a child or a stranger to drag him or her off. Yes, not likely to happen, but after dark, I'd be a bit apprehensive too. I can see how it would be humiliating, but I have a nine year old and she knows under no circumstances will running away from me be allowed, and if she does, appropriate consequences will be employed. Safety is just not something you can mess around with. I see the OP as being in a situation where she made the best choice she could at the time. Yes, maybe in retrospect there are things she could have done differently, but at the time, I probably would have done the same thing, honestly.

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#17 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 02:39 PM
 
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I don't think the OP overreacted. I think she made the best possible choice under the circumstances.


OP i would probably have done what you did if i thought of it. Some things are non-negotiable with me, and safety is one of them. 9 is old enough to recognise that it is dangerous to run off in the dark in protest of not getting ice-cream! Even my not-yet-4-year-old gets that is NOT ok. And if i was in charge of a 9 year old who was going to run off in the dark and not willing to negotiate i would do what you did. The choices in that situation are really limited. I think there is a big difference between a 9yo who is adventurous and wants to be a little ahead of the group and a 9yo who is running ahead KNOWING it is a dangerous thing to do in order to antagonise their carer as a punishment for not buying him ice cream. One of those kids is still likely to be thinking about his safety and in a rational mood, the other is not at all.

As to a child i did that to being potentially humiliated and never wanting to come to the park with me again....oh well is all i can say to that. Ideally i'd like to give a warning before i did something like that, but if i didn't have time...again, oh well. We all know i'm incredibly harsh by some standards here, but i am not unthinkingly so, i give out such consequences with a complete willingness to accept my own if there should be any.
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#18 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 02:50 PM
 
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I have a nine year old and she knows under no circumstances will running away from me be allowed, and if she does, appropriate consequences will be employed.
Yes, but you are her mother. The OP is not a parent and thus I think has less leeway in imposing consequences. Honestly, I would be really upset if any caregiver for my elementary-school-aged child than a discussion, an end to an activity or a request for them to remove themselves for the situation until they could be calm and rational.

For the OP -- if you care for these children regularly, do you have guidelines from the mother about what you should do when a child disregards your instructions? If not, you should definitely make sure you have a meeting of minds before you care for them again. What did she say about this situation? I think that will tell you a lot about what you should do the next time something goes wrong.
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#19 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 03:13 PM
 
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My oldest child is 7 and has high-functioning autism, SPD, and probably ADHD. He's very impulsive for his age. I still deal with his tantrums and running away.

I'm not the perfect parent. Not by a long shot. And I'm not anti-punishment. But, forcing a child even older than my own into a harness seems overly punitive. It also seems like something one would to do purposely humiliate a child. There are other options.

I can understand someone who doesn't have experience with kids in that age group making such a mistake. But I can't understand why parents of a child that age would defend that choice as reasonable or appropriate. Even when defending it out of fear of (arguably unlikely) possibilities. There are more age-appropriate responses.

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#20 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 03:33 PM
 
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Yes, but you are her mother. The OP is not a parent and thus I think has less leeway in imposing consequences. Honestly, I would be really upset if any caregiver for my elementary-school-aged child than a discussion, an end to an activity or a request for them to remove themselves for the situation until they could be calm and rational.
I disagree. The child's mother allowed her to take the children to the park with the expectation that she'd keep them safe. Putting him the harness accomplished that. Was it a consequence? Yes. But being hit by a car could also have been a consequence, and a far less desirable one. The OP asked the child to stop running away and he said NO. He chose to not act responsibly, so she stepped up to the plate. I would absolutely support her decision if she were my sister or caregiver. And it would be a long time before I'd allow my son to go on an outing like that again.

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#21 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 03:38 PM
 
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My oldest child is 7 and has high-functioning autism, SPD, and probably ADHD. He's very impulsive for his age. I still deal with his tantrums and running away.

I'm not the perfect parent. Not by a long shot. And I'm not anti-punishment. But, forcing a child even older than my own into a harness seems overly punitive. It also seems like something one would to do purposely humiliate a child. There are other options.

I can understand someone who doesn't have experience with kids in that age group making such a mistake. But I can't understand why parents of a child that age would defend that choice as reasonable or appropriate. Even when defending it out of fear of (arguably unlikely) possibilities. There are more age-appropriate responses.
She asked the child to walk with her and he refused and ran away on a darkening street the OP was unfamiliar with. At 9 years old he's too big to pick up and carry home, and she had a younger child with her so she couldn't chase him.

What, exactly, were those "other options" in this situation?

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#22 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 03:58 PM
 
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I guess I see a couple of assumptions here that I don't see data to support. Was this a traffic-hazard type of street? I guess I am picturing a suburban street with a sidewalk, in which case I really don't see the "hit by a car" danger. And if the OP cares for these kids regularly and this is sort of a routine, wouldn't she know the street at least somewhat? I guess I just don't see this as all that "dangerous". Unless this is really different that what I'm imagining, I think the best option was to let him go. This child is 9, not 2. That's old enough to rely on not to run in front of a car. In my neighborhood, I would allow my 10 YO to go to a within-walking-distance park on his own, so I don't see the big deal with letting him run away. Of course I would express my frustration to him and my disappointment in his rudeness and unreliability at the point where we came together again.

ETA: I'm guessing that those who see this as a major safety issue have much younger children and/or are visioning either a very dangerous urban street or a no-sidewalk-no-streetlight sort of rural sort of situation. We all come at these sorts of scenarios with our own situations in our heads.
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#23 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 04:00 PM
 
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She asked the child to walk with her and he refused and ran away on a darkening street the OP was unfamiliar with. At 9 years old he's too big to pick up and carry home, and she had a younger child with her so she couldn't chase him.

What, exactly, were those "other options" in this situation?
Let's see- if she was able to get the reins on him in the first place, then obviously she caught up with him. So, she could have spoken with him about his feelings, her expectations of how close he should stay to her, and what the consequences would be if he didn't. She could have helped redirect his anger and frustration by coming up with a game, song, or other silliness for the rest of the walk home. They could have come up with a compromise that would allow him some space from her while he was angry, but still allowed her to keep him within view so that she didn't worry. I didn't get that the street was one the OP was unfamiliar with - they walked to the park, right? So, she was familiar enough to get to the park and make the return trip. Unless this child has been completely stifled, he should have the knowledge and experience by now to know how to safely navigate both a street and a sidewalk without the assistance of an adult. Kids can have tantrums, run off, and even do it all in the dark and still be safe. Especially 9 year old kids.

I have a harness that I used with my toddler. As difficult as my older son is, I can't imagine ever using it on him. I have had to get creative when dealing with both of them having tantrums away from home before, and even when both of them ran off in different directions before. There are ways of handling such occasions that don't involve a harness. Really. Though, I don't agree that you can't chase another child when you have a 3 year old. My almost-3 year old and I chase his older brother down the street all the time - just for fun!

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#24 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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At 9 years old he's too big to pick up and carry home, and she had a younger child with her so she couldn't chase him
She DID chase him though otherwise how did she get the harness on him?

No 9yo I know would have sat still long enough to get a harness on them. If she could catch up to him(while still providing care for the younger child) then he really wasn't that far ahead to begin with. A threat of using the harness should have been enough.

If my sister did this to my kids it'd be the last time in a long time that she took care of them. I would have trusted my sister to be able to handle my kids in an appropriate manner or she wouldn't have taken them in the first place.

If I could still see the child I would have let them run a little ahead. They were mad & from what I read most likely going home. Unless there were known issues of safety with the 9yo the 9yo would have known to NOT run out into the street.
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#25 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 04:18 PM
 
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What, exactly, were those "other options" in this situation?
I totally agree, according to the OP:

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For the return trip though, the brother was unhappy because we didn't stop off to get ice cream. He started chucking a tantrum and ran far ahead. I asked him to stop, but he said no.
Because it was getting dark, I took the reins off his sister and put them on him instead for the remainder of the walk home.
It's awfully difficult (if not impossible) to reason with a child who is running away from you. As he was also mid-tantrum, it seems pretty fair to assume that his ability to act rationally and listen to reason was further diminished in this situation.

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This child is 9, not 2. That's old enough to rely on not to run in front of a car.
Perhaps that age is generally old enough for a parent to make this assumption. But, it sounds as though this particular child may very well have been so caught up in the moment that one could no longer rely on him to act responsibly and avoid running in front of a moving vehicle.

I think the OP did the best she could in a difficult situation to avoid a far more dangerous outcome, especially something like him getting hit by a car. As others have also pointed out, the OP was also responsible for the care of the boy's 3yo little sister, who is likely no longer all that easy to pick up and run with if she had to continue trying to chase her nephew. As it was also getting dark, the likelihood of him eluding her (or being obscured by a someone operating a vehicle down that street) was even greater than it would have been in full daylight.

I really think some of the harsher criticism is unwarranted. Sometimes caregivers and parents alike have to take the less than ideal solution when confronted with such a tough set of circumstances. It sure beats the guilt she would have to deal with if something bad had in fact happened to her nephew. Personally, I would rather my child's caregiver physically restrain my kid if it meant preventing him from harming himself, but then again I'm the meany mom who had no compunction with strapping my tantrum throwing, trying to run away kiddo into the stroller instead of trying to reason with him.

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#26 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 04:27 PM
 
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I wouldn't have used a harness on a 9 year old.

He was disappointed. Let him be disappointed and talk him through it. And explain that being disappointed is ok and showing that is ok, but running away is not.

Am I the only one who wants to know why they didn't get ice cream?
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#27 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by beanma View Post
Overreaction big time unless he's got some special needs. I have a 9 yr old and there is no reason in the world to put a harness on a developmentally neuro-typical 9 yr old child. I hope you apologized to both the child and his mom.

If you could give some more particulars I can tell you what I would have done. Talking would be my first tactic. Empathize with his disappointment. Brainstorm other solutions (another time to get ice cream, a special treat to have at home, etc). Invite him to help you come up with a solution. If you're still having difficulty a call to mom or announcing that you'll need to call mom might do the trick. Harness is basically equivalent to putting him in diapers or a stroller. Really humiliating.
:

I think you may need to stop taking the kids places alone until you have a better understanding of your nephew.
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#28 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 05:45 PM
 
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Come on: I don't think it was the OP's intention to humiliate him. It seems she was scared, the child was out of control, and she used what resources she had to keep him safe. She didn't kick him in the leg, or trip him to get him to stop.. she used a harness she already had with her, that was supposed to be used for the 3 y/o. The child was not listening obviously. I'm SURE there could have been other ways to handle it, but the OP handled it the best way she knew how, and it wasnt' abuse.

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#29 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 05:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Kailey's mom View Post
Come on: I don't think it was the OP's intention to humiliate him. It seems she was scared, the child was out of control, and she used what resources she had to keep him safe. She didn't kick him in the leg, or trip him to get him to stop.. she used a harness she already had with her, that was supposed to be used for the 3 y/o. The child was not listening obviously. I'm SURE there could have been other ways to handle it, but the OP handled it the best way she knew how, and it wasnt' abuse.
Yes, that is all true. But she is asking for feedback.
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#30 of 87 Old 02-18-2010, 05:59 PM
 
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Kailey's mom: My 9 year old is starting puberty. I shudder to think what the effect of being bound by an adult would be.

9 years old is far too old, short of special needs, to be harnessed by an adult for any reason short of violent actions that cannot be handled any other way.

So, yes, it was an overreaction. The OP asked for information. Now she has it. It was an entirely inappropriate way to handle the situation.

She's going to need more tools in her toolbox before heading out with the children again for everyone's safety.

So what did happen around the ice cream?
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