Trying to break a cycle... ideas welcome

When I at my worst, and I was sure kidnappers were after my kid sis, I would handcuff her by her left wrist, to the belt loops of my jeans so she wouldn’t get snatched… or wander off and get snatched. I would tell her it was for her own safety, and that I was worried about her and this would keep her safe in large crowds.

By the time she was 8 she could get out of handcuffs and she would raise such a fuss about being handcuffed it was hard to get her to give me her wrist.

By the time she was 9, she could run away a bit and I couldn’t catch her and it was easier not to hand cuff her any more.

We’ve been kid sitting our nephew this weekend… he’s 7 and a half and he does wander off… We went to a farmers market yesterday… my sis gave him a few warnings and then she hand cuffed him to the belt loops of her jeans.

I HATED seeing that. It’s like… it all came rushing back. She told him is was too keep him safe in large crowds. That hit my heart very hard. I am trying to find a way to break a cycle that I had started.

My past sure does like to come back to the present for me.

Putting leashes on kids seems to be common in the U.S., although I guess there has been some debate about its propriety:

I don’t want to comment on leash-to-one-hand-cuffed equivalency.


Seems to border on abuse? :frowning:

My daughter went through a wandering stage, but it was nothing that a hand resting on her shoulder couldn’t fix. No need to embarrass or traumatize her.


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I’m not sure how exactly I would have reacted had I been leashed or handcuffed by my parents…

I know I’ve always been a little perturbed at the sight of parents with kids on one of those leashes (haven’t seen this in ages though)

All I know is that my niece is growing up so far to not need physical restraint to be kept around. This girl is far more well behaved than I ever was but she was raised by all of us after having learned lessons from all our mistakes in being raised as well as parenting. It really does take a village and not two clueless however well meaning parents to raise a human being I’ve found.


I admit… my brain was scrambled when I was 16 to 20. It was the most logical thing I could think of to help thwart kidnappers.

My sis is now 18 and she and I have been in therapy together to sort of heal from that strange past of ours. I know NOW it was a horrid thing to do to her. But at the time… it made perfect sense… because the entire world was full of kidnappers… I even accused our neighbor and our own Dad of being one.

The end result is my sis now thinks that it’s how you handle the situation. You will parent as your were parented unless you break the cycle. I’m trying to come up with other ideas.

What ugs me most…why on Earth do you have handcuffs around the house? Both you and your sister.

Anyway. It’s her own decision to handcuff the kid, but you could talk to her and explain it’s not something you are proud of havig done to her, and that it’s pretty much at the limit of abuse. I mean it’s not like she wouldn’t understand, she seems to be a very smart, emphatetic young woman.

For some reason knowing that she is on the forum and that she is your go-to caregiver all the time, I find it hard to imagine that you really have a communication problem with your kid sis.

Handcuffing a kid to your belt seems like someting traumatic and humiliating for the kid. Even if you did it, you can still tell her it was not wise decision. However, you cannot break the cycle yourself, you have to take her own decision into account. She’s the one who will or will not break the cycle, unfortunately you cannot do it yourself. It’s out of your hands.


You didn’t quite start a cycle- people do this sort of stuff to kids all of the time. The problem was that you did it out of psychosis. Your sister is a young adult now, I think she has good judgment. I think it just triggered some trauma in you.

Trauma…we could talk about trauma all day. We all have it. My dreams last night involved trauma, I wasnt too happy about that. I had some trauma last semester in finals week, now I am anxious about school. I have to fight through it. I seriously freaked out and did something stupid last finals week, I took more xanax than prescribed and drank two beers with it at 230am before an 8am final. I realized what I had done and threw the beer up, but the xanax still hit and I woke up feeling like a zombie, made three mugs of coffee, knocked one over like I was mentally handicapped (I mean drugs do that) and my mom just told me she would clean it up, she noticed I was not in good condition that morning.

That is just something that makes me dread school, I have tons more.

Don’t let it get to you. Just be awesome and let the past kiss your ass because it’s behind you.


You know… I never thought to get rid of them. That is a good idea. Get rid of them.

My sis and I do communicate pretty well… but this one threw me a lot. I hadn’t really talked to her about it. I wasn’t sure how to approach it. My first reaction was to run away. Just one more thing I did back then that carried over to now.

It’s also pretty hard for me to bring up some of our shared past… I did some really horrid things to her childhood. But for the things I’ve had a courage to address… she has forgiven me.

@mortimermouse your right, it was very jarring… it was hitting me pretty bad.

I am just getting some new ideas to try. Plus… if I ever become a parent… it would be nice to know how to handle a bolting kid without the use of my old habits.

Finding a way to get that communication started… that is also a big step. I hate starting serious conversations. I’m always afraid I’ll end up in a argument… even though I usually don’t. It’s hard for me to start serious conversations… so I guess it’s letter time again.

I’ve never had kids, but if I did I’m sure I would be very worried about all the bad things that could happen to them. I think part of being a parent is realizing that you can’t protect them from every possibility. You just have to trust in god and in luck.


A safety whistle from Cabela’s would be better than handcuffs.

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@BakedBeans This is a good idea. I like this better.


Kid Sis has already gotten the point by reading all the comments…

well as you say ‘the kid seems to wander off’ so i guess she is well within her right to do that,
something she learned from you and not necessarily a bad thing trying to keep him safe just like you did for her, ok it was a bit more extreme for you but your heart was in the right place, you were genuinely trying to protect her and thats what she is doing


Don’t be so hard on kidsis. I know a lot are against child harnesses and such but the reality is that it doesn’t take long for a kid to wonder off. I never did the harness. I did try the velcro wrist to wrist. My son would simply undo it so I gave up on that one. It’s been so long that I don’t really recall how I kept them close other then I didn’t go out alone I guess so that there was usually more then one set of eyes on them. If they didn’t want to hold my hand then I held on to the back of their cloths or they had to hold on to a piece of my clothing.


We we’re able to talk about this one a bit yesterday… It didn’t get heated, but right now we agree to disagree.

She says she only does this at this one specific outdoor market because of the park across the wide alley, and cars speed through that alley for a short cut and our nephew loves to run to the park.

So… in her mind… 10 minutes of being handcuffed to her is better then 7 year old vs. speeding car. I still don’t like it… but at the same time… I don’t know how to argue it.

So the compromise is to not take him to that market any more until he can stay close.

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I have to admit that when I’ve seen parents using these leashes on kids I laughed and found it funny. I would never use one but I don’t fault them too much.

There is a pre-school or daycare somewhere around my neighborhood. In the mornings I sometimes see a big group of really little kids out for a walk with two adults leading them. They’re all tied together in a line with some sort of rope-like contraption. It’s funny.

It’s cool too that a couple of times when I was sitting on the porch as they walked by they would all say “Hi!”, like all of them at the same time. A chorus of “hi’s” from a bunch of cool little kids brightens the day. Beats the stares and side glances of a lot of the people I encounter when I’m out.


There is a day care on our campus and I see the toddler rope gang being led around a lot. It’s sort of funny seeing them all try to get up the stairs… little mountain climbers. But I guess if you have 10 tiny kids and you have to keep them together on a college campus…

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Yeah, it would be hard with so many kids on a walk to keep them from running off or darting into traffic. A kid can get into the street pretty fast, well before someone watching 10 of them could react.