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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Todd Vrancic

I don't know the issues your son has with coordination, but I, too, think you should be a little more diligent in attempting to get him to tie his own shoes.  Sooner than you think, it will be an issue for him.

mlber... mlberry4172

Whoa ladies!!! R we all having a bad day??? My 9 year old still has problems with tying his shoes, not the mechanics, but finger dexterity. Thanks for calling him a dumbass. Is this site just an opportunity to rip on other mom's to make urself feel better? Cuz it's really feeling like it. And no I do not buy my ds velcro shoes. He has tie shoes and we give him as much time as he needs in the a.m. To get them tied. But I'm sure calling him a dumbass is just as effective, geesh!

nonmember avatar Cynthia

Basic life skills people! Tying a knot, balance-like skating, how to use a knife safely, swimming-or at least how to float and not drown, printing, telling time and reading as well as many others. Not things we should be looking for shortcuts for. Sure there are places for slip on shoes and such, but proper running shoes should tie on for safety!

nonmember avatar Cyn

I actually find it a bit shocking that a 8 years old can't tie their own shoe lace sorry!
Granted tehre are less shoes with laces around than when I was a kid, and that yeah it might not be something I would urge a 3-4 years old to master, 8 years old is definitely too old to still have mommy tiet the shoes on! At age 8 I was knoting my own friendship bracelet in intricate patterns!
I have a 2.5 year old girl, no shoe lace yet, we live in a tropical climate where flip flops and crocs rule year round, but I ask her to try putting them on by herself, been doing it for over a year, she doesn't always get whcih foot is right or left, but she is trying. With the logic of saying wasting time on learning to tie shoelaces where are we going? In a few year will it boil down to "why waste time teaching your toddler to put his flip flops on?"

nonmember avatar Cynthia

mlberry4172, I think what people are saying is not that your son who has dexterity issues is a dumbass, but that those who do not even understand the skill may be. Good for you for teaching him and giving him the time to learn and use this skill instead of being the parent who just steps in and does it for them all the time! Sure, we all step in sometimes, but when we do everything, including basic life skills for our kids we are not benefiting them at all!

nonmember avatar Brooke

Omg! Please teach your poor kid to tie his shoes! Really, I'm in the camp of my mother did it until I was like 10...15 years later and I still don't tie the "correct" way...and I blame my mother lol. My husband is already teaching our son, who just turned 4. Seriously, take 10 minutes a day to teach your kid.

KenneMaw KenneMaw

OMG - that article is distrurbing!!!   I am glad my kid isn't the normal British kid - GO USA!   Yesterday,  my 10 yo and I were in the backyard making rope ladders and plafforms so she could play in the trees.  this was 100x more fun than playing a video game!   She learned to tie her shoes at 7 yo while we were sitting in the hospital ER.  A neighbor kid had hit her in the head with a tree branch and she needed stitches.  She had been wearing her beloved new pink hightops so to keep her occupied and not worried about the doctor, we taught her to tie her shoes.

Andi Walker Brunett-Libecap

I'm with the author on this one. My daughter is 7 & while she knows how to tie her own shoes, it is a sloppy mess at best, because... stay with me now... she's SEVEN. Her motor skills are NOT underdeveloped, & they are not stalled because (as one snide parent stated above) "Mommy does it for her". While it's great that your "wonderful" children are adept at tying their shoes, how are their writing & reading skills? My 1st grader reads on a 5th grade level & write letters to pen pals well above her age whose responses are atrocious. If you can say the same of your knot-tying cretin, I'll back down. Otherwise, get off your horse & go teach your babies something that actually matters in today's world.

PonyC... PonyChaser

My son is tiny for his age (8.5) and has little bitty feet. I cannot FIND tie shoes for him!! Everything is velcro, and it is very frustrating. I haven't really had the opportunity to teach him to tie his shoes because of it.

But... he can (usually) tie his own fishing line, and he's working on knots that he learned in his Cub Scout Den meetings. And he's working on tying a tie, which is kind of hard for him, but he's trying. I'm not really worried about the shoe tying thing. Once his feet are big enough for "regular" shoes, he'll have had enough experience with other knots, that they shouldn't be a big deal


Loonah Loonah

Seriously? You think that Brazilian Jujitsu is more important than learning to tie his shoes? Well, maybe it is...then he can kick the a** of the other child that teases him for not being able to tie his shoes. Quit writing articles about how your child can't tie his shoes and teach him to do it! It will probably take less time.

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