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A Guide to Teaching Kids How to Put on Shoes

A Guide to Teaching Kids How to Put on Shoes

It takes some time for little hands to learn the intricate moves required to successfully tie shoes. And that learning curve usually olny begins once they’ve figured out which shoe goes on which foot. Some kids master these tasks quickly and other struggle, for years.

“My 6-year-old is still learning...slowly but surely,” posts Circle of Moms member Sharon H. “My 8-year-old can't [tie his shoes yet] either. He's had Velcro, or z-straps his whole life.” writes Theresa K. And Marjorie G.'s 6-year-old daughter "doesn't want me to teach her how...She says it's too complicated and cries. So I give up."

I can relate to Marjorie. It took my now 14-year-old son until he was in the third grade to really master this task. Even now, he would much rather just shove his feet into pre-tied shoes and wing it. I regularly find myself reminding him that he needs to get his whole foot – heel included – into the shoe. It took years of practice, with me showing him over and over again, before he got it. But it turns out that there plenty of good tricks for teaching your kids to get their shoes on and tied, by themselves.


1. Locate the Outsides (or Inner Sides)

Several moms suggest strategies for figuring out which side of each shoe should line up with the inner foot and which with the outer foot. Amanda R. says, “Try locating something on the shoe that is only on the outside or inside sides. Most kids' shoes have some sort of design that is the same on each shoe and is only on either the inside side or outside side. My daughter almost never gets her shoes wrong and she's only three and a half. We just look for the word (brand name) or the design (princesses, etc) and tell her where it goes." Marnie C. "simply drew small smiley faces on the inside of each shoe and tell my dd (child) to have the shoes smile at each other,” shares

And here’s the trick I used that finally worked for my son to get that the right shoe goes on the right foot and the left shoe goes on the left foot. As Stephanie P. describes it, “Shoes make a circle. ( ) and curve inward, not out )(."

2. Mark the "Dominant" Shoe

I put a star in the right foot for my children that are right handed. I remind them that the star is in the shoe of the same side that they right with or hold their fork. Works pretty good at my daycare/preschool,” writes Carrie M.

3. Teach "The Butterfly"

“Have you ever heard of the butterfly? Pretend her strings are a butterfly. When you make the loop those are the wings and then you tie them together. It always works for my Kindergarten class.” says Kesha.

4. Provide Incentives and Rewards

“My husband made it into a game for my four-year-old. He rewarded her with a small cookie after she learned each step. Needless to say, she learned in one hour how to tie her shoes. Make it fun for them so they don't think it's a chore. But when they figure it out, definitely make a big deal out of it then,” writes Deana M.

5. Have A Child Show the Way Instead of You

Tanya Y. suggests enlist the help of an older child. “Does your daughter have a close cousin or friend she hangs with a lot? You could pull the friend/cousin aside and ask him/her to nudge your daughter into learning,” she advises.

Several moms note that peer influence can go a long way as well. “My son was seven-and-a-half years old before he actually got it down. When he got into second grade he noticed all the kids could do it and he wasn't going to be the only one who couldn't. So he made himself learn finally. Don’t worry too much about it, it will come,” says Heather S.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice

Or, as Mary W. shares, persistence can help: “Don't give up. My son who is now nine didn't learn to tie his shoes until last year. He purposely kept wanting the velcro shoes because he didn't want to learn how to tie shoes. But right before school started, I bought him shoes that laced up and spent the entire week with him learning how. I took one of his shoes while he had the other and I walked him through each step, singing the over and under song. By the time school started he was lacing his own shoes. Just be patient, they will learn when they are ready.”

7. Stop Helping

For kids who insist on help or velcro, Linda T. suggests tough love: “Sounds like they just like it when you do it. Try not tying them and explain [that] they need to tie them or they go untied."

What tricks helped your kids learn to put on their shoes independently?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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