My Kid Has More Important Things to Do Than Learn to Tie His Shoes

Mom Moment 115

shoesThe other day I was with one of my son's second grade friends. I told him his shoe was untied, and bent down to tie it for him. He looked up at me strangely, said, "I can tie my own shoe," and bent down and did so. 

I was impressed, though I know an 8-year-old doing so should probably be a given. So I vowed once again that I'd finally get around to teaching my 8-year-old how to tie his own shoe. Only I still haven't, and apparently I'm not the only slacker parent when it comes to shoelaces. 

Among other skills our kids are lacking today, a survey from a British energy company recently found that 45 percent of kids ages 5-13 can't tie their shoes. While that might be alarming to some -- and certainly was to the survey authors who used this and other findings to bemoan that "youths have lost their sense of adventure and lack skills, which older generations take for granted" -- I found it reassuring. 

Lisa Belkin at The New York Times does a nice job of rebutting these accusations against our kids and their lack of skills with the host and new impressive things they CAN do these days, calling it "Darwinism at work. The march of time." I couldn't agree more. 

Between Uggs, Keens, and Velcro shoes, the only real shoes with laces my son has ever owned have been cleats for sports. His daily routine is the rip and zip and ease of Velcro. Even when it comes to his cleats, there are ways to cheat and avoid that whole dreaded bunny ear business with things like lace locks

While I suppose he needs to know how to tie shoe laces eventually, it just hasn't been a priority. I'd rather lace him up with double knots myself then send him out to work on his skills at shortstop than sit on the sidelines trying to get him to perfect the perfect knot. Both would be ideal, of course, but sometimes something just has to give. In kindergarten when they worked on it, his little fingers weren't quite dexterous enough, and he quickly grew frustrated. Then they moved on and so did we ... with our life. Call me lazy, but shoe laces have never tied us up, so to speak.

Do I want him to go to college and have to ask someone to tie his shoe? No, but I know one of these days he'll get sick of letting me tie his shoes, and he'll conquer it. I don't think his life will be of any lesser quality in the meantime, and he has plenty of other more impressive skills anyway, like some killer moves he's learned in Brazilian Jujitsu ... where they don't wear shoes at all.

At what age did your child learn to tie his or her shoes? Does this study surprise you?

Image via Jeanne Sager

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dirti... dirtiekittie

i guess i'm one of those folks who is in the 'surprised' camp at this study. REALLY? all the way up to 13!?! i can't even begin to imagine not knowing how to tie my own shoes at that age. in fact, i'm surprised people would say "oh i'm so busy, i'll teach them later". with my kids, it was one of the basic building blocks of teaching them self responsibility. my 3 yo dd needs help, but will at least try. i haven't had to tie my 8 yo dd's shoes in years (except when she had a recent surgery).

and for the record, it's all fine and well that slide ons, velcro and uggs have made kids' lives so much easier. because we all know that learning how to tie a knot wouldn't come in handy in any other real life situation... :o/

nonmember avatar Cee

Well tying shoes is a fine motor skill, and if he doesn't have that "dexterity" its probably because mommy does all these things for him. You need to help him develop fine motor skills to be able to tie his shoe. Tying shoes may not be important but he should have fine motor skills.

Also just because there are things that make it easier, doesn't mean he cant learn to do something, there aren't short cuts to everything.


My kids were taught to tie their shoes in Kindergarten like I was and those before me. I still have their little shoes tied with yarn they got when this was accomplished. What about tying other things like sweatpants and sweatshirts? What about tying a fishing line or a kite? Kids should know how to tie as well as tell time on a real clock. It's such an easy thing to do. Why would someone have such a hard time teaching their kids this simple task? 

hanna... hannahsmom238

I agree with JAFE as soon as my daughter started kindergarten I stopped buying her Velcro shoes. It took about a week to learn. She's getting a watch for her birthday.

Desir... Desireesmom2011

Wow really its not like you have to sit there for hours at a time trying to get them to tie there shoes. Every Time they put their shoes on let them try it once or twice if they don't get it tie it for them and leave. ans just repeat every time they need shoes on. I was tying my own shoes at age 4 (not very tight but I still did it). I think its kind of irresponible not to teach your children such and easy and extreamly usful skill.


nonmember avatar ZoesMom

More important things? Then learning to tie a SIMPLE KNOT at 8 years old? Geez, that a pretty laize faire attitude towards parenting. Easy way out alternatives and 'cheats' yeh I really hope that's NOT Darwinism at work!!!

nonmember avatar ZoesMom

""youths have lost their sense of adventure and lack skills, which older generations take for granted" -- I found it reassuring."

REALLY?!?! Call me old school, but I find that alarming not reassuring!!!

nonmember avatar Littlelady

@ladytradition the kid may be a "dumbass" at the fault of this parent. However, I am sure this kid will be just fine - after all he can watch a YouTube video about it lol. You, on the other hand, will most likely remain a bitter and judgemental woman.

Alison Carabajal

My older boyos learned to tie their own shoes around 4 or 5. Well before they started school for sure. They can't go through their whole life wearing slip ons and velcro.

zandh... zandhmom2

I taught both of my kids the summer before they started kindergarten.  I also taught both my kids to tell time on a clock.  My daughter had a harder time with tying her shoes...I don't think she got it really tight until sometime in 1st grade but I still made her do it herself and if they came lose, she would have to redo it herself.  Both my kids also do their own laundry now. They are 16 and 12 and more than capable of doing it themselves. It's important to teach our child how to be self sufficient or they grow up thinking they never have to do anything for themselves because someone will to do for them.

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