Learning to Tie Shoes & Ways to Help a Kid Who is Struggling!

Shoe tying can be hard for kids to learn. Some kids will pick it up quickly and others will simply struggle. For my first two kids shoe tying was a cinch. They picked it up within the first five tries.

My third kid was a totally different story.

He struggled and certainly let us know that he didn’t want to do it. He threw fits, cried, avoided doing it, and had “friends” who would tie his shoes for him. The funny thing is that in second and third grade he had his “girls” that would help him tie his shoes when he needed help.

What a little lady’s man right?

We thought he was being lazy, we thought he was being stubborn, and we thought he was being difficult just because. Well, because of him, I learned a lot about this shoe tying business, and had a little bit o’humble pie thrown at my hubby and I!

He didn’t get the shoe tying thing down until he turned 10 years old. 5 YEARS later than my other two kids! Really I’m not comparing here, but it certainly left us wondering why? The average age to learn how to tie the shoes is age 6.

Let’s start from what we tried to do to teach him how to tie his shoes…

  1. We gave him a shoe with two different colored shoe laces for each side so when he was tying he could distinctly know which shoe lace he was working with similar to a product like Easy Tie Shoes Laces.
  2. We showed him DIFFERENT WAYS to tie his shoes like these two ways: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5b0PiWo5rC4  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsydRalh0ow
  3. We practiced on real shoes, and I bought him cardboard foam shoes made for the purpose of  having shoes to practice on.
  4. We practiced, and practiced, and practiced. ALL. THE. TIME.

Over time, as we worked on tying shoes, I started noticing other types of situations that he struggled with.

He struggled with buttoning his shirts, zipping pants, and simply putting his socks on the correct way. I always noticed it, but didn’t make the connection.

And wait for it….

This is where the whole o’humble parent pie thing happened.

My kid wasn’t being lazy, nor stubborn, nor difficult.

We found out that he had something called Dispraxia.

Dispraxia is when a child struggles with fine motor skills or gross motor skills. It can also affect other things, but for my child it was his fine motor skills a.k.a. that whole tying shoes thing was really hard for him because he struggled with his fingers and hands. He struggled with buttons, zippers, and typing. His fingers seemed awkward and fumbled doing those activities. I had no idea that it was a developmental issue. That same year we switched schools and he landed in the class of a teacher who admired the art form of origami.  He had significant improvement practicing a full year of doing fine motor activities including origami repetitively.

Bless his teacher who did origami with her class every day because she enjoyed it, and by fate it was a secret blessing to my son who struggled with using his fingers.  It helped him enough so that now he’s doing much better with all those skills. Since it took longer than most to learn to tie his shoes, we did things to make it easier to put shoes on, without the need to approach his peers for help. We bought him slip-on shoes and Velcro shoes, and when he got a little older, we found brands like Xpand lacing system, Hickies, and lock lacesAll of these products are great to transform the regular shoe into an “easier to put on” version of itself. They come in different colors too making it fun for kids to wear and to not stand out to their peers.

Doing these things worked for us.

Now after an intense year of working on his fine motor skills, with some patience, he ties his own shoes, buttons his own buttons, and zips without a thought.

That’s our story.

So while no two kids are the same, a tad bit o’patience and  consistency goes a long way when trying to teach children the skill of tying shoes!

And sometimes, just sometimes, tying shoes is more complicated then just a stubborn kid! Maybe you can learn from our mistake to judge so quickly.

Wishing you All The Luck of a Magpie!

Thoughts?