Harnesses/Leash for 7 year olds?

Allie1348

Earning My Ears
Joined
Sep 19, 2019
Hi, i was recommended that this might be a better place to post my thread so sorry for the repeat, but just after advice!

Name changed for this one as I know this can cause alot of strong feelings amongst members, but just looking for advice.

Going to disney with DH and our 4 kids soon. Our two older DS’s are 9 and 11 are generally well behaved and no problem. However we’ve got 7 yo twins (boy and girl) who I’m really worried about on the trip. Our DD has aspergers and whilst she presents as very ’normal’ in a lot of ways has a tendency to get fixated on things, wandering away or even running away when she sees exciting things or is overstimulated. In crowds she also has a tendency to bolt. Her twin brother whilst not diagnosed on the spectrum also likes to runaway from DH and I when out and will not listen to instructions or hold hands.
I have been thinking for sometime about using reins/harnesses with both twins when at disney, just to keep them close to us and safe, whilst not constantly having to shout at them for wandering but not confining them to a stroller. I actually bought a set for them each last week, but im still abit nervous about the judgement. Do people think this could work?
 

Allie1348

Earning My Ears
Joined
Sep 19, 2019
Just looking for advice really or particularly anybody who can tell me what its like using a harness/leash type device with an older child in the parks? Thanks
 
  • ladyjubilee

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 11, 2012
    I haven't used it for the Parks, but did try when my son as younger at smaller venues....I prefer stroller as wheelchair. It solves the wander problem, the slow movement problem..the could tip over problem, the meltdown problem and the had a seizure and is totally out problem. The leash just fix the wandering problem.
     

    gap2368

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2015
    I have seen them used in the parks too. I saw a YouTube with an older child ( 5-6) I think at the time thst used them for there child on the spectrum if I can find it I will share it with you

    But do what is best for you and your family
     

    Bjkandma

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2019
    Do what you feel is best for your family. Don't worry about what others think. The odds of you meeting any of these people again is minimal. Enjoy making many magical memories with your family.
     

    theluckyrabbit

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    I agree with the other posters that you must do what you know is best, safest, and what will work with your family. And what works best at home isn't always what works best at Disney where there is so much more stimulus and just more of everything all around all the time. As suggested above, a stroller as a wheelchair may work well. I know a family that uses weighted backpacks, too, for times when their child really needs to be out of the stroller. The backpack is heavier than normal, but not "heavy" -- just enough for the child to feel the weight and to slow the child down. And the parent has a harness/leash attached to the backpack. It was a homemade device, so I'm not sure if anyone sells something like it now. But it worked very well for them at Disney, at the mall, and in airports.
     
  • Bete

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 14, 1999
    Be prepared. Even if you want to use the harness, when the twins realize what's happening they may not be happy. You could experience tantrums or whatever with them. If you have used them before with success then maybe it will be okay. If you haven't used them before you may want to practice at home with other activities; so, they get use to the idea.

    I would be equally concerned about the twins getting out of the place you are staying at, too. There are motion sensors you can use for the doors.

    We use wrist bands with our cell phone numbers on it for our 5 year old twins. I'll continue to do this for a while. We take current pictures of them just in case, too.

    There are GPS trackers you can get that are built into shoes just in case.

    Ultimately, you have to do what will work and give you peace of mind.
     

    theluckyrabbit

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    Be prepared...

    We use wrist bands with our cell phone numbers on it for our 5 year old twins. I'll continue to do this for a while. We take current pictures of them just in case, too.

    There are GPS trackers you can get that are built into shoes just in case.

    Ultimately, you have to do what will work and give you peace of mind.
    Excellent advice in general for anyone bringing kids to a Disney park. We continue to advise DISers to take a full length photo every morning of their kids so that they will be able to show/describe what the kids look like/are wearing at a moment's notice. I will never forget my friend's losing her child at DLR, then being so upset that she could not remember what her own child was wearing and not being able to give a detailed description to security. It delayed her child's return by over half an hour because none of the CMs knew exactly what they should be looking for. And we have had good reports from DISers who use GPS trackers like Tile in their strollers and on their kids (and on the grandparents, too, if need be) to make sure that no one wanders off.
     

    Betty Rohrer

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 19, 2010
    Excellent advice in general for anyone bringing kids to a Disney park. We continue to advise DISers to take a full length photo every morning of their kids so that they will be able to show/describe what the kids look like/are wearing at a moment's notice. I will never forget my friend's losing her child at DLR, then being so upset that she could not remember what her own child was wearing and not being able to give a detailed description to security. It delayed her child's return by over half an hour because none of the CMs knew exactly what they should be looking for. And we have had good reports from DISers who use GPS trackers like Tile in their strollers and on their kids (and on the grandparents, too, if need be) to make sure that no one wanders off.
    I would add to take another picture of child if outfit is changed during the day as can happen
     

    Lauren in NC

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2010
    My kid doesn't usually have problems with elopement, but he tends to need to be in constant motion and can wander off if distracted. We've had a pretty good experience with filling up a well-fitting backpack with water bottles until it's "heavy enough". As the day goes on and he gets more tired, we need to readjust the weight, but we're naturally drinking the water anyway. The sensory input seems to help with the need for movement.

    The harness backpacks never worked for us, personally. He would tend to pull as hard as possible and basically go stiff as a board (not necessarily trying to get away - he liked the way it felt). So, I would definitely try it out at a grocery store, etc, before the trip. One thing we've found that works for our DD who doesn't like holding hands - we get a large stuffed animal, and a parent will hold one of the stuffed animal's hands and the child the other. Not sure if your kids will find that too baby-ish, but my 6yo son will still do that occasionally.
     
  • Allie1348

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 19, 2019
    We tried out the harnesses today. The harneses i had already bought were the chest reins type with buckles to tighten the straps to the child’s chest with a lead attached to the back. Someone told me these were the most babyish of the harnesses available but the backpack ones looked very easy for either of the twins to get out of.

    We went to the a shopping centre today, and told both DD and DS that we would be trying their harnesses out. They were put on after we got out of the car and came off as we returned to the car. DD made quite a fuss and it was quite a hassle to get the reins on her. Both whined a fair bit at first but got used to them after an hour or so. They both enjoyed not having to hold hands actually! The harnesses proved useful a couple of times when they tried to run in the direction of shiny toy display etc.
    Wore them for about 3 hours in all and would probably say it was a success. Did get a couple of nasty comments about why 7 year olds were in reins 😡, and tbh they have bothered me a bit.
     

    Allison Joy

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 25, 2015
    As others have said, don't worry about the comments. I know it's hard not to, but try not to let them get to you. YOU know what is best for your kids. I have no children, but I'll tell you right now, if I did, I would likely need to use a harness at some point., espeically if I wanted them to walk around and not be in a stroller all the time. I have some physical limitations. I can easily see how a child could get away from my grasp and start running, and I would not be able to run after them and catch them. And if anyone said anything, I'd likely even tell them that. And then ask them, "Which would you prefer; that I use a harness or that my child runs away from me and I can't catch them, and they have to lock down the store to find him so he doesn't escape and run into the street?" (okay... that last part may be a bit much...) Even if you don't have any physical limitations, I would think that last question would (hopefully) cause them to think twice.
     

    Tallis

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 1, 2019
    I'm glad you are planning to do what is best for your family. I don't think anyone will give them a second glance at Disney. Everyone is busy dealing with their own families. It's much different from a shopping center. Almost everyone knows at least one family with a child on the spectrum, and I would think if people gave it any thought at all, they would just assume they were on the spectrum. Don't let it worry you, just keep your kids safe and have a great vacation!
     

    mamabunny

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 11, 2012
    We tried out the harnesses today. The harneses i had already bought were the chest reins type with buckles to tighten the straps to the child’s chest with a lead attached to the back. Someone told me these were the most babyish of the harnesses available but the backpack ones looked very easy for either of the twins to get out of.

    We went to the a shopping centre today, and told both DD and DS that we would be trying their harnesses out. They were put on after we got out of the car and came off as we returned to the car. DD made quite a fuss and it was quite a hassle to get the reins on her. Both whined a fair bit at first but got used to them after an hour or so. They both enjoyed not having to hold hands actually! The harnesses proved useful a couple of times when they tried to run in the direction of shiny toy display etc.
    Wore them for about 3 hours in all and would probably say it was a success. Did get a couple of nasty comments about why 7 year olds were in reins 😡, and tbh they have bothered me a bit.
    Whenever someone here has to use a personal mobility device for the first time, one of the things they seem to worry about the most is getting "dirty looks" at the bus stop.

    And so, we remind them: It's often not that they are giving you a "dirty look". But humans are wired to stare at the unknown - after all, that's how we learn and figure things out.

    So, here comes the bus, and it beeps, and it "kneels", and then the back doors fly open, and it barfs out a ramp... and to add to the spectacle, here goes this old Rabbit Woman on her weird little scooter up the ramp!!! So, a lot of times, the people who are giving me a weird look while I board the bus are just seeing this process for the first time - they have never been to WDW, and it's quite the show for them before they ever even get to a theme park. It's not just me. It's not just my personal mobility device. It's not even just the bus - it's the whole thing.

    And that's why you will have some people give you a "look". Let them look - you never know who is watching! It could be that another mother will feel validated to use a similar system with one (or more) of her children who could benefit. It could be simply the novelty of seeing kids using that technology; you have to remember that a lot of people who come to WDW are not routinely around people with visible or invisible disabilities.

    And yes, you may hear some remarks. You will have to make like Elsa, and Let It Go - because those people make their little comments from a place of fear and ignorance. Karma will "educate" them; you don't have to worry about that. Just do like all of us Southern Girls, and give them a smile, and say "Bless your heart!" and go on.

    And have a great trip with your beautiful family!
     

    tsumgirl

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 27, 2019
    I'm so glad your kids responded well to the harnesses! As with any disability, we have to take the positives wherever we can get them.

    It is hard to hear comments about your situation when you're doing what you feel you need to do for your kids and their safety. Just let it roll off your back and be proud of the fact that you're allowing your kids the freedom to walk and explore, while keeping them safe in the crowds. You're being proactive about your situation, and your family will have a much better vacation because of it.

    As mamabunny said, there will be other mothers that recognize your situation and will feel empowered to follow your example to help their own kids. It's always a bit intimidating trying something new, but I'm sure you'll be glad at the end of every park day that you did it, no matter what anyone says.
     

    DisneyOma

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 27, 2015
    Have you tried or looked at the wrist strap versions? Or would they wiggle out of them?
     

    sunflowerblooms

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 6, 2013
    All kids are different. And I truly believe parents raising kids that have never wandered off, bolted, flopped then bolted, zigged when you wanted to zag have no clue what's its like when the child is there one second and gone the next. So you harness those kids, stand tall and practice the mantra "this is what's best for my family, it's my vacation, happy parents, happy children". Your practice session sounds like a success! Enjoy your vacation.
     

    Allie1348

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 19, 2019
    Thanks for all the postive support, it’s fantastic to feel as though im doing the right thing for our family- makes me wish that we had been using them years ago! Its very easy for people to judge, especially as both twins would appear ‘normal’ to a stranger if they spoke to them.

    @DisneyOma we haven’t tried wrist straps with DD 7 and DS 7, only the chest harnesses. Yeah I think they’d be too easy to wriggle out of and the same with the backpack ones. These ones have buckles at the back so netiher DD or DS can touch them once they are on. I did buy a wrist strap though with the chest ones, but intended more for DS 9 who was teasing the twins about them. Don’t really plan on using it on him, but more as a deterrent (if he knows its there) during park days.

    Had another successful trial run today, getting on the bus to town for an appointment, near busy roads etc. Both tried to tug on the reins a bit but hopefully will get used to them. Got a few looks again but remembered what some of you here have said.
     

    seashoreCM

    All around nice guy.
    Joined
    Aug 25, 2001
    Reasons for dirty looks:

    Wheelchair -- Extra minutes of delay for others while bus driver scurries around to load and strap in the wheelchair rider. (more, omitted here for the sake of brevity)

    Child leash -- Extra congestion and then delay for others as the leash stretches across some of the scarce open space between persons that is now not available for quick walking through. Today's vocabulary: clothesline, (as a verb)
     


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