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

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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nonmember avatar SMH82

Sad. Learning things shouldn't be so "whatever." How about the satisfaction the child gets from learning and doing things!? By age four, tying shoes, making their own bed, "washing" their own dish (sure, you'll probably have to re-do it, but hey), and telling time should be in their daily routines. They're on their way to eventually be adults. Foundations like these shouldn't be so strange.

nonmember avatar SkepticalMiss

I could read, write AND tie my shoes at age 4 (and for the 'lady' who suggests that shoe-tiers must be mindless, I was never below the 97th percentile in tests). Can't imagine what this 8-year-old has going on that's more important than learning basic skills. And how does the author expect him to learn when he never has the opportunity or incentive to practise?

nonmember avatar Prof Shoelace

It's sad, really. Shoelace tying is a skill on which other skills are builts. Sure, it's difficult, but with success comes accomplishment. The child learns that some things are difficult.

Anyone having difficulty, try teaching the "Ian Knot", the world's fastest shoelace knot. There's some incentive!

Lynda Elaine

The writer of this article is a bonehead..Teach your child some basic skills because you really DON'T have better things to do. Lazy parents make lazy children. Lazy children grow up to aggrevate the other hard working, responsible people in the work force that have to put up with the product of your laziness. or pay for them because they have no ambition except to collect welfare. Thanks for contributing to the next generation of slackers.  

nonmember avatar anon

Sorry, but tying shoelaces is not that complicated. This just comes across as poor parenting -- kids need to be taught to be self-sufficient, not to always try to find the easy and most convenient way around things.

nonmember avatar nursemel

What a disservice you are doing to your child! This is disheartening. As a parent you should be fostering your child's independence and confidence by allowing him to perform simple tasks on his own, not encouraging dependence on his mother for something so simple!

nonmember avatar Tat2

My son is 9 and still isn't able to tie his shoes, despite instruction. To be fair though, he has dyspraxia and his fine motor skills are lacking.

nonmember avatar Rei

To the person who commented on Einstein, check the link here:

Einstein most likely had Asperger's. If your kid is developmentally disabled in some way or has motor skill deficiencies due to another condition, fine. But occupational and physical therapists will tell you that making them do fine motor skill exercises as often as you can is the ONLY WAY THEY WILL GET BETTER AT IT. I thought this was common sense, but apparently it is not. x.x'

nonmember avatar Scott

Funny but my wife and I took the exact opposite approach. We actually started a company that helps kids learn to tie on their own. That stat shocked us into helping to reduce it. You can check out our product at

Mark Kielbasa

I guess you stated it yourself...Your a "slacker" mom. and that my dear is nothing to be proud of.

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