I recently watched this episode of Modern Family and have to say the most hilarious part was when they show Lily on a leash. I'm going to go ahead and be judgmental Mom for once because I think parents who put their kids on leashes like they are pets are absolutely ridiculous. It's lazy. I have three small children (ages 4, 3, and 1) and am perfectly capable of taking them to crowded places and neither losing them or chasing after them. It's something called discipline. Can parents like this honestly think of no other way to keep their kids by them?
Here are some solutions that don't involve treating your child like a domesticated house pet:
1) If you have more than one, and are using a stroller, have the older, walking children hold onto the sides of the stroller or let them help push. I give my children lots of freedom to walk ahead of me on their own. If they can't manage to stay at a safe distance, they are required to hold onto the stroller for the duration of the outing or until I feel they've earned a second shot.
2) Set physical boundaries. Say, you're walking to the park. "You can walk ahead but you must not go past the fire hydrant." Update the physical boundaries along the way. Oh, yeah, you actually have to enforce these boundaries. What happens if they don't listen? Check #1, if you can't jive with that there's always some good ole' time out for not listening.
3) HOLD HANDS. Nothing like a good hand-hold to keep your kid close by while making them feel loved at the same time (OK, sometimes they hate it because they want to run away, but we do it because they are humans, not dogs).
4) Always in front. Never let your child walk behind you, unless you want to lose them. No matter what your mother told you, we all know that Moms don't really have eyes in the back of their heads.
5) Practice. And then practice some more, and don't forget to be consistent. If you expect your child to stay by you because they just love you so much more than a butterfly that just flew across the street, you're sadly mistaken. You'll be there long after the butterfly disappears into the sky- and your kid knows that. So, take some time to purposely go on walks to practice walking ahead at a safe distance. It definitely takes practice to keep your kid by your side, or at least in your sight.
There's a part in the episode where they run into another Mom with her two sons on leashes. The kids get all tangled up and the parents say things like, "Don't worry, she's friendly," or "He's just excited," and it totally makes you think of a couple of dogs getting to know each other. When I see a kid on a leash, I honestly do think, "What a nice pet child."
I mean, seriously, a leash? Yes, even the guy with socks and sandals on is going to be giving you looks.