By: Laura Bueche MOT OTR/L
Teaching your child how to tie shoes can be frustrating for parent and child. This tricky dressing task relies on a variety of different components to work together such as: fine motor skills, bilateral hand skills, visual perceptual skills, sequencing, and attention.
Here are some easy tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years to help your child be more successful with this tricky self-help task.
SET UP FOR SUCCESS
Practice Off the Foot
It is much easier to learn how to tie a shoe when the shoe isn’t on your foot. You can lace up an old shoe for your child to practice on, or you can make a “learning shoe” with cardboard or an egg carton.
Different Color Laces
Buy two pairs of laces of two different colors. This will help your child with the visual perception piece. She or he will be better able to see the laces and differentiate, and avoid a tangled mess.
Visual Check List
Print out the sequence pictures from this blog to make a flip-book and follow along as you teach. This can help your child sequence through the steps.
One or Two Steps at a Time
Learning all the steps at once can be overwhelming. Read your child’s motivation and/or frustration levels to know when to push forward and when to call it a day.
Set aside time to practice. Rushing out the door is NOT the time for learning. Set aside a time to work on shoe tying when you can go at a slow and stress free pace.
Ok great! Now you are set up and ready to learn the magic formula to teach your child how to tie their shoes…
MISS LAURA’S MAGIC FORMULA
- Hold the laces
2. Make an “X”
3. What lace is on top? (blue)
4. Top Lace (blue) goes through the tunnel
5. Pull Tight
6. Make a loop
Not too big… Not too small…Not too far away
7. Blue lace goes aroouuund town
8. Drop it!
9. Thumb pushes bunny through the hole
10. Grab both bunny ears
11. Pull tight
Elastic shoelaces are great because they look just like regular laces and allow your child to slip on their sneakers without untying. This can be used as a great compensatory strategy or a temporary substitute while your child is in the process of leaning to tie shoes.
Here’s a resource for kids who need a one handed alternative.
Still having trouble?
Despite your best efforts, if your child is still having difficulty, perhaps it’s worth an occupational therapy screening or evaluation to determine if there is an underlying fine motor, visual motor, bilateral coordination, or visual perceptual problem. An occupational therapist will be able to adapt this shoe tying task to better fit your individual child’s needs.
Learn more about occupational therapy and other programs at eastersealsdfvr.org.