Teaching a child to tie her shoes is an important developmental milestone – parents dream of the day that securing sneakers onto a squirming toddler is no longer a part of their morning routine. Any parent who’s been through it, however, knows that teaching this important lesson is easier said than done.
Tying shoelaces requires some serious fine-motors skills – skills that most children won’t begin to develop until at least the age of 4. Once your child has mastered dressing herself, it won’t be long before she’ll be ready to start tying her own shoes, too. When you feel like your preschooler is ready to make the leap, here are some tips to help ease the process (and help you keep your sanity):
- Don’t rush. Children develop fine-motor skills at different times, so it’s completely okay if your little one isn’t quite ready to tackle this task yet. If it seems like you aren’t getting anywhere, there’s no shame in putting a few more miles on those slip-on sneakers. And when your child is ready, remember to take it slow!
- Use a kid-friendly method. You may tie your shoes using the two-loop method (aka “Bunny Ears”), but this method can be tricky for young children. Try using the one-loop or “Around the Tree” method, which tends to be easier for children to master, according to Kathy Krohn, a child life specialist at Primrose School of Golf Village.
- Make it big. There are simple ways you can help your child practice the art of tying on a bigger scale. Have them practice tying a jump rope around a tree in the front yard. Make cardboard cutouts and lace them like real shoes (as an added bonus, use two different color shoe laces to help your child keep track of which lace goes where).
- Make it fun. Learning to tie his shoes can be frustrating for your child! Sometimes, more creative and imaginative approaches can help him grasp the concept more easily. Fun methods like singing songs, reciting poems and telling stories can help children remember the steps involved.
- Remember the big picture. We know – watching those little tiny hands fumble over and over again can test your patience. Try to keep in mind that these motions are likely brand new to your child. When it feels like it’s all too much, try thinking of it like Alicia, a mom of two:
“I try to imagine my son all grown up, at a professional job one day, with neat bows on his dress shoes!”
Check out more parenting tips for navigating preschool milestones.