On the Horizon – 07/23/13

Welcome to "On the Horizon"

Issue 226: Promoting Safe and Appropriate Behavior in Public: The Developmental Downside of Using Leashes with Children – Part 1

On the Horizon is an award winning weekly ezine for parents of children with developmental disabilities who want simple, effective strategies to reduce stress, support their child’s development, and improve quality of life for the whole family.

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  • A Note from Dr. Beurkens
  • Feature Article: Promoting Safe and Appropriate Behavior in Public: The Developmental Downside of Using Leashes with Children – Part 1
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

July is speeding along and the kids here at camp are working hard and having fun! We’ve got some new pictures of our older guys and their woodworking projects on Facebook (click here to check them out and "like" our page). It’s awesome to see their skills improve from one summer to the next as they tackle various projects. They are enjoying the new workshop space that was part of our recent clinic addition. It allows them to work on projects in a space designed for tools and construction; and they like that it is air conditioned!

My feature article this week is part 1 in a series about helping children develop safe and appropriate behaviors when out in the community. Today’s article focuses on the use of "leashes" for children, and why I think we need to explore other options. Next week we will run the second part in the series, which will focus on specific strategies for working on safe behaviors in public. The Q&A this week provides book suggestions for those of you interested in learning more about the role food and environmental intolerances can play in behavior challenges.

I hope your week is fantastic!

Looking to the horizon,

Promoting Safe and Appropriate Behavior in Public: The Developmental Downside of Using Leashes with Children – Part 1

By Nicole Beurkens, PhD

iStock_000015665625XSmallIt happened again recently while I was at the local shopping mall. I looked across the store to see a child with a long leash attached, and at the other end of the leash was an adult holding on for dear life as the child attempted to race through the store. I encounter this same scene fairly regularly as I’m out and about, and it gives me the same sinking feeling in my stomach every time. As a child development specialist, it is painful to see parents who feel they must resort to this type of approach with their child because they have run out of tools for managing their child’s behavior; and equally painful to see these children who are being denied the experiences and opportunities they desperately need to develop to their fullest potential. Whether the child is typically developing or has some special needs, parents must devote serious thought to the negative implications of using tools such as these.

Click here to read the rest of this article…


My daughter is four years old and has a history of behavior issues that go beyond what is typical for toddlers and preschoolers. We have seen various professionals and have received recommendations ranging from therapy to parenting classes to waiting for her to grow out of it. Recently I’ve seen some information about food intolerances and behavior that make me wonder if she doesn’t have some of those issues. Are there any books or resources you recommend that would give me more information about this?

Thank you,
Sherry in Green Bay, WI


Hi Sherry,

I’m sure it’s been frustrating to get so many different opinions about how to help your daughter. While therapy and parenting education can be very beneficial in some cases, you are correct that food intolerances/sensitivities can be a core problem that needs to be addressed. There are two books I would recommend: What’s Eating Your Child by Kelly Dorfman and Is This Your Child by Doris Rapp. Either of these books will provide you with practical information you can use to determine if foods, or other triggers, are impacting your daughter’s behavior.

Best wishes as you seek solutions,
Dr. Beurkens

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