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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Miranda Gualtieri

Im not surprised at all that kids cant tie their shoes. Most parents work at least 10 hours a day kids spend their time in after school programs or with some alternitve care option...they are learning lots of things but basic skills generally isnt one of them and when parents do get time with their kids they just want to enjoy them and or have to work on undoing some new piss poor habit they have picked up from these programs that you pay ludacrisly for that is suppose to be so great fo them. Allot is expected of children these days at earlier and earlier ages skills like tying shoes are def overlooked in such a busy life style. Also some kids just dont have the attention span or motivation to learn a skill they see no use for....or they are just have other skills and this is a weakness im sure those of you with early shoe tying kids realize they lack in some department....being negative never helped anyone though. I have a newly turned 6 yr old who can tye a knot but still cant tie her shoes, it's not because we havent taught her and gone over it repeatedly it because its hard for her and shed rather put on her flip flops and spend her free time exploring nature. She will learn when its important for her just like everyone elses

nonmember avatar 2girlz4me

Our Kindgergarten preparedness list includes being able to tie shoes, so I took my daughter to a free shoe tying class at Nordstrom. By the end of the half hour she had the basic skills down. I was surprised yesterday when she tied the ribbon on her Easter basket by herself because she had not tied anything in several weeks... but she keeps asking for shoes with laces now... because she is so proud of the accomplishment of the task... so think of it as a boost to their self-confidence, too!

Cafe... Cafe Sheri

I love this post, Julie! And totally agree. Who cares!

nonmember avatar guest

wow guys! no one is saying your kid is dumb if they can't tie their shoes... they're saying the parents should stop being so lazy. we all know kids' dexterity & abilities develop at different rates... but as long as you [the parent] are trying. Thats what matters! my 6 yr old knows the steps to tie her shoes and we make her do it every time, even though they're never tight enough and we end up having to redo it at some point... at least we TRY.

Jennifer Liddington

I am a teacher of Kindergarten. I am amazed every year at how few children know how to tie their shoes. I send notes home every month encouraging parents to spend some time with their kids practicing. I show and teach them at school and then expect them to practice. I feel like some parents just don't want to do it? With my own daughter, I will be teaching her by Kindergarten at least!!! It is so important as a life skill and for that fine motor dexterity!

Paula Perry

Children learn at different rates, but I think 3 or 5 is about right for learning to tie one's shoes.

The point is not that you can tie them for him or put him in velcro shoes.

The point is that he needs to learn this fine motor skill and he is really going to be embarassed in gym class when someone has to retie his shoes.

By 8, I had my Cub Scouts learning Square Knots, Bosuns and Half-hitches.

nonmember avatar Aspen

I guess this only concerns me if my kid wants to wear some tie shoes and he'll realize that it's just one of those things to learn. But I have to laugh in fond memory of Erma Bombeck describing how she was, in amongst many other multi-tasking things, using her teeth to loosen the knots of her child's soggy shoelaces (soggy from what was not clear though). I love and miss Erma, she really knew how to find humor in all kinds of life ; ) R.I.P.

msdeg... msdegas13

my 1st learned to tie her shoes at 3 because she wanted velcro sneakers and I figured she would never learn to tie them if I got velcro shoes. I told her I would buy velcro sneakers once she learned to tie her shoes, so she did. My son is lefthanded so I had his preschool teacher (also a lefty) show him and he learned before he was 4. My baby had to do everything her older sibs did so she learned also at 3. It wasn't difficult to teach them.

Charlene Connell

It's not that hard to learn to tie shoes.  If your kid gets to a certain age and cannot, you can make sure to have them fall in love with a pair of tie shoes.  Suddenly, there is motivation, and soon the kids will be tying shoes.  I don't think they all have to be pushed at 4 to learn this, we do have velcro and I love it (six kids leaving the house makes me a big fan), but at some point, this is a useful skill.  Other things besides shoes require knots and bows.  Just saying.

nonmember avatar Kristin M

As a lefty, I didn't learn how to tie my shoes until 1st grade because all the people teaching me were right handed and they were using the traditional single bunny ear method. I couldn't get it right. Once someone finally showed me the double bunny ear method, it all finally made sense! That's the easiest way in my opinion. The 2 steps are basically the same except the 2nd step, the laces are doubled over.

Good luck, and don't let other parents discourage you or tell you that you're wrong!

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