43 answers

Shoe Tying

Help! My daughter just turned six, and still cannot tie her shoes. I need creative suggestions because my approach is just not working. She gets easily frustrated and either I end up tying them or she puts on her slip ons. First grade is just around the corner, and I would like to have her master this skill before she gets there.


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Featured Answers

I teach 2nd grade and I always get a few kids who cannot tie their shoes. The best thing I have ever found to help them is an older student. Find a neighbor kid who is really nice and patient or a cousin and ask them to help them tie their shoes. Really it works everytime. 10 years are really good at this.

When I was eight I could not learn to tie my shoes. My dad repeatedly showed me how to tie my shoes. But both of my dad and mom are left handed. I am right handed. Then my mom and dad asked my mom's mom to come and visit us, to teach me to tie my shoes. My grandma was right handed. I am so happy that she flew by airplane to where we lived to teach me to tie my shoes! Have you ever thought of this before? I hope that you find the help that you need, and that maybe my true story is helpful to you.

Mrs. T. L.

Try starting with the tie on a bathrobe. It's the same movement with out the fine motor requirement.

More Answers

Is there an older child who can assist with this skill? Sometimes it is more fun and less stressful when another child is helping, even a teenager or a babysitter or something. We live in Hawaii, and I don't think ANY Hawaiian kids know how to tie their shoes, because we always wear rubber slippers!! With all of the alternatives to laces, I don't think it is uncommon for kids to acquire this skill later in life than we did.

Buy a doll for shoe tying!!! It was my only hope and in 4 days my 6 year old daughter was an expert. Just buy the doll show her a few times what to do and let her have at it!!!

I'm pretty sure its a 7-year-old average on that, but just make it fun, not a stressful thing. I would make a chart and give her a sticker on it every time she makes a good effort with a good attitude.

I love Caty S's idea with the marker. That's great to know when I cross that shoe-tying stage. I don't have any tips, but your question reminded me of a blog I read that was giving away a shoe-tying "training board" type thing. Here's the blog: http://www.5minutesformom.com/3141/laces/. I also found these that seem like they would help a child's small hands be able to hold on better: http://www.tiebuddies.com/ Good luck!

Gosh, I barely thought about shoe tying, with all the velcro & elastic closures out there! Your daughter may just not have the dexterity yet. I recall having a very hard time with it myself and I know I was well into 1st grade before I could do it by myself (and I recall feeling bad about it and a bit panicky, so do be compassionate with her please).

Everyone's different -- my daughter wore mostly velcro sneakers & sandals, or had her laces tied for her until into 1st or maybe 2nd grade. I couldn't really figure out how to TEACH her what to do, so I just kept asking her to watch me closely while I tied her shoes, or I'd set the loop up and have her push the end through (and it wasn't even every day). After a bit of fumbling she got it and she's fine now. I marvelled at how easy it was for her, but one thing I know I did differently from my folks -- I didn't pressure her and I didn't allow anyone else to say one word to her about it either. I am not saying I think you are pressuring your daughter, please don't think I am!

I'm a big advocate for allowing kids to do things when they are ready. Maybe some dexterity developing toys -- does your daughter like to string beads? I know it's past time for shape sorters, but how was she with those? how about puzzles? Things like that will tell you how she is with hand-eye coordination and dexterity. If she's not there yet, she'll have a hard time tying her shoes. But once she gets it, just think how wonderful she'll feel.

If she's not ready by 1st grade, my suggestion is shrug it off, send her to school in velcro sneakers or tie them (slowly & with big movements that she can follow -- and double knot them so they won't come undone).

All the best,
(who at this very moment is wearing velcro closing Tevas)

Hi C.,

I know it can be frustrating when we think our kids should have gotten something by the age they are at but, sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. Hang in there! My suggestion is to try working with her on other shoes than her own. Such as yours - or maybe a dolly. Yours or a larger shoe will have larger shoe laces and all that extra length can help her get the idea of pulling through. Have you tried the bunny ears or the traditional one loop, wrap-around and pull through?? Being consistent is important, but I have noticed a lot of kids do better with the bunny ears (probably because of the bunny reference). Once she can do it on the larger laces, she will feel more confident to do her own, & it will be less stressful/frustrating as well. Good luck & God Bless!

All the others have great suggestions. Some children do not have the fine motor skills mastered as early as some others. My son did not learn to tie his shoes until almost high school. He still has fine motor issues today and never mastered handwriting but prints miserably. Thank heavens for computers and word processors. He can type very quickly, but write or tie shoes? He prefers slipons to this day, but will tie athelic shoes once and then uses them as slipons. If your daughter shows other signs of fine motor skills problems such as using each hand to write with, poor grasping ability, unable to throw a ball accurately, etc, then have the school test her. My son had three years of occupational therapy that really helped. Also, if your daughter has trouble with buttons, zippers, hair and tooth brush control that is another sign. Just thought I'd put in my two cents with a child that had multiple issues with fine motor skills as one of them.

Hi C.!
I just found this cute animated video showing how to tie a shoe at:

Hope that helps!
R. E (the one with 7 kids)

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