Walking with kids; Hand Holding or Harness? Or Neither?

My wife said to me one day ‘I know you never wanted to get him a harness to wear, but look what I found’

She showed me a little strap that you can wear so the kid doesn’t need to hold his arm up so high while walking.

‘I don’t even plan on holding his hand while we walk places’

She didn’t think I was being serious, and didn’t think it was a good idea when she found out I was. As a stay at home dad I felt I only had one response; ‘Good thing mat leave is almost up’
The tree I help him sit in
It seemed like a better and better idea every time I saw a parents dragging their kids around everywhere. (Doing exactly what people with harness do, minus the harness)

The answer is not walking to walmart, but to the tree on the hill. Then to the tree where we can reach the branches. Then to the rock we can take big steps on. Then to the fire hydrant. Yadda Yadda Yadda, now lets go inside walmart! (previously ‘the blue store’)

You can start this process before you can trust them near roads, by just pointing to something and saying lets go see that thing…and start incorporating ‘STOP’ along the way.

He was too young to know what getting hit by a car was, so why even mention anything about that to him yet? Why should he spend his time right now learning ‘to not walk in parking lots’ when I’m there and I can see if cars are coming or not? I already know he’ll stop exactly when I say stop. (And daddy learned not to say STOP when he was running!)
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Looking DownStop at every intersection. Wait for every light. ‘OK let’s wait here for our little white guy, or wait for that light to turn what colour?’

What I also noticed is the farther ahead I let him go, the easier I could predict his movement. His shoulders shifted well before his feet changed direction.

It’s like looking down vs. looking at the horizon while driving

Sometimes I make him keep up to me, sometimes I just keep up to him. I’ve been able to trust him on the sidewalks along busy roadways since he was two. A nice bonus from this experience was that ever since, no matter what he’s doing, or what just caught his eye, he’ll simply stop when I say stop.

I’ve never wanted him to stay beside me or to keep up because I’m holding his hand. I wanted him to stay beside me (give or take)
because that’s just the way we get places.

Do I ever hold his hand? Well, there was that time when he learned to walk and kept tripping over any obstacle in his way…until I showed him what I mean by ‘look where your feet go’