Insights from Dr. Dan Brennan on the twenty-first of August, 2022

Every parent has tried to teach their child to tie their shoes without success. Most parents underestimate how difficult it can be to teach a child how to tie their shoes. But if you're patient and use straightforward methods, you'll have your child learning in no time. What you need to know is below.  

Among the many responsibilities of parenthood is teaching your child basic life skills, such as how to tie their shoes. This not only gives them independence by letting them dress themselves, but also boosts early motor development, which is especially important for things like walking and talking. Although there is no universally agreed-upon "shoe-tying age," the vast majority of kids pick up the skill sometime around the first year of elementary school.

Even though it may be difficult, staying calm and patient when teaching your child to tie their shoes will go a long way. If your child is having trouble learning how to tie their shoes, having some background knowledge on the common issues kids face in this area can help you help them. Children typically struggle with:

  • Learning by heart the procedure
  • Consistently giving one's undivided attention
  • I stooped down and grabbed my shoes.
  • The ability to coordinate the precise actions

A variety of solutions exist, though, including the purchase of a few ancillary items and/or the adoption of simplified tying techniques. Keep in mind that every kid is different and that it's important to be patient if your kid seems to be taking a little longer than the rest to grasp a concept.

If you're teaching your child to tie their shoes, keep in mind that many of us had to figure it out the hard way. There isn't a magic bullet to fix all of these problems, but here are a few possibilities to consider.

Display for tying laces Your child's development of the fine motor skills required to tie shoelaces can be aided by using a lacing board. They are not only a great DIY project for parents and kids, but they will also aid in the child's education.

Variegated coloured lace Shoelaces of varying colors may help some children understand their function. This way, rather than simply memorizing a set of instructions, they can grasp the underlying principles at work.

Placing Footwear on the Surface Learning how to tie shoes is made easier for most kids if they aren't forced to spend too much time crouching or bending over. It's possible that putting a shoe on a table will help ease your child's and your own frustrations.

When taught how to tie their shoes, the vast majority of people are taught the standard method, which entails making a knot and then the now-iconic "bunny ears." This is one of the quickest ways to tie shoes, and it's easy enough for even young children to master.

  1. Snatch a lace from each shoe and cross them over about halfway.  
  2. Wrap the lace's end that's closer to you around the one that's further away. The first lace's end should now dangle between the two, forming a tiny arc.
  3. Pull tightly from both ends of the laces after threading the dangling end of the first lace through the arc. The laces are held together loosely by this first knot.
  4. Ears are made by forming a small loop with the first lace to resemble a bunny's ear. "Hold it in one hand and make a loop with the other lace that is just like it.
  5. When you're finished, you should cross the middle of one ear over the middle of the other. When you're satisfied with the first knot, move on to the second ear and repeat the process with its top.
  6. A second ear can be inserted through the arc, and both ears can be pulled from the tips or the middles. If you've done this right, you should see two bunny ears protruding from the top of your shoes.

If your child is resistant to the bunny ears technique, you can always look into other options. For instance, this one leans more heavily on the standard knots, eliminating the potential for misunderstanding introduced by the bunny ears.

  1. Like the bunny ears technique, cross the shoelaces halfway up the shoe.
  2. In order to create a small arc with a hanging lace in the middle, cross the end of the lace in front of you over the end of the lace behind you.
  3. Tighten the knot by pulling the dangling lace through the arch.
  4. When you're finished, you can make another knot the same way. Instead of squeezing the final step, leave a small circle of space between the knots.
  5. Insert the tip of one shoelace into the hole in the middle of the circle. Don't yank too hard, but the lace should now resemble a bunny ear.  
  6. Put the other lace through the same process again.
  7. At last, firmly tug on both ears.

Kids typically struggle with learning how to tie their shoes. Although this is natural, you may want to move more quickly to avoid unnecessary stress. To demonstrate the proper method to a child, one might use an adult-sized shoe.

But keep in mind that repetition is the key, so prompt your kid to tie their shoes whenever you can. Provide practice opportunities during otherwise unproductive situations, such as long car rides or waits in the doctor's office.

If your child is struggling to tie their shoes, you may want to try some activities aimed at developing fine motor control. They'll have less trouble tying their shoes in the future thanks to the improved fine motor skills they'll acquire from participating in these entertaining exercises. The following are examples of such pursuits:

  • Painting
  • Gardening
  • Activities involving putty and playdough
  • Racing rice

Children often need help from an adult if they are taking an unusually long time to master a new skill, and shoe-tying is no exception. Contact your child's pediatrician if you have any concerns; they will know what to do.

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