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Life's a Drag

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Are leashes for kids okay?

Brett Berk: 37-year-old Melissa Catherine Smith-Means created controversy when she dragged her child on a leash in a Verizon store, and someone got it on tape.

mom drags kid on leach play video

She was later arrested on child cruelty charges.

While I'm all in favor of leashes for vicious dogs, circus tigers, and between consenting adults, I'm not so into them for kids. Sure, it's an effective means to keep your child from running away from you while you're cruising the aisles of Target, or to prevent them from tearing into the street while you're gossiping with the neighbor on the sidewalk. But then again, so is handcuffing them to the shopping cart or chaining them to a post in the middle of the front yard. As with most things with young kids, simply because it "works" doesn't mean it's just, proper, or healthy.

My rejection of leashes is based mainly on the fact that they're solely an external mode of control, one that's implemented ON the child, and one with which they have no input or agency. It's my feeling that effective discipline -- and by this I mean behavior management tools that are actionable, functional, and operative in the long term -- defines clear boundaries and repercussions in advance, and puts the onus on the kid to figure out how to comply and find their own center. In other words, ways of implementing your authority that allow the child to rationally engage with your demands and figure things out, rather than just be told what to do. When kids are required to think, and develop an ownership stake in things, they tend to comprehend more and respond better.

But you might not agree. You might think your toddler tether is the only thing standing between you and rambunctiousness, or find it adorable and a great way to accessorize an outfit (pink dress; green harness; silver chain: voila!). Still, even those leash lovers in the audience would probably admit that if you're going to utilize this product, you should stick to doing so in a manner that demonstrates the modicum of respect you would provide to even the most reviled family pet -- a baseline that includes not using the living being attached to the far end like a ball-and-chain, a slingshot, or a Swiffer. And that if you're intentionally not going to conform to this rather low bar, you should probably consider doing so away from a phalanx of in-mall security cameras so that you don't end up looking like a self-centered, abusive harpy in front of the entire Internet.

Or maybe you just REALLY want that bedazzled cell phone case and you have to get over to the display before some other bitch steals it out from under you. In which case, drag away.

next: Push Presents are Tacky
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