How to Teach a Kid to Tie Shoes (VIDEO)

It is so, so, SO hard to teach kids to tie their shoes. And between all the Velcro and slip-on styles out there today, many kids are mastering this milestone later than the usual 5 to 6 age range, says Keri Wilmot, a pediatric occupational therapist at Yet while parents can put off teaching this skill, sooner or later, you've got to sit down with your kids and show them the ropes. Here's how.


Easy shoe tying tricks

Pace yourself. First off, don't try to teach your kid this task if you're rushing out the door! "Learning to tie shoes can take up to a month of consistency and dedication from the parents and child and a lot of patience," says Eileen Sloan, an elementary school teacher who's taught countless kids this task. To keep from getting frustrated, she advises that kids practice daily one minute per their age: For example, a 5-year-old would practice 5 minutes each day; a 6-year-old 6 minutes.

Practice with shoes off. Parents should have their kids practice with their shoes off because it's more comfortable, explains Anne Zachry, a pediatric occupational therapist whose website has a video on shoe tying.

Use colors and/or knots as visual cues. Using markers to color or mark the laces in various ways can help kids differentiate one lace from the other. For instance, to encourage kids to form a loop at the right spot, color the "tree trunk" portion of the laces brown and the "tree top" green. Or if your kid needs help remembering how to pull the other lace through, tie a knot at that point as a visual tip-off.

Break it down into smaller steps. One easy way to make this complicated task manageable is to do everything except the last step -- then hand the reigns over to your child. "Then work backward," says Wilmot. "This allows kids to demonstrate success and mastery without overwhelming them."

Experiment with different methods. There are several ways to teach a kid to tie their shoes -- rabbit ears, regular, even methods that profess they can be mastered in five minutes! So if one approach doesn't succeed, try another. You never know what will click for a particular child.

Get tools to help. To make learning shoe-tying easier, Sloan developed, a $5 cardboard device that holds laces in place as "pause points," giving kids extra time to practice each step, then can be popped right off.

Offer a reward once they get it right. "Children often need motivation and incentives to learn this," says Wilmot. "The promise of a new pair of shoes or something exciting is often a great motivator."

Bottom line: Shoe-tying is not to be rushed or learned overnight. Keep chipping away at it and eventually your child will get it down -- at which point it's time to celebrate!

For more information, check out this video where "Magical Molly" teaches parents how to teach kids to tie their shoes:

How did you teach your kids to tie their shoes?


Images © Corbis; ©

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