Helpful Options for Tying Shoes

Shoe tying can be a stressful and discouraging motor planning activity for many children. There can be a number of reasons for it to be so difficult. A child may not be able to distinguish between the same colored laces or perhaps they have trouble motor planning how to move the laces in and around one another. As promised, here are a few options to try. Each child is different with their abilities and their patience when it comes to being able to tie their own shoes, so allow them the chance to try different ways and see which way might work best for them.

The Loop method:

This method involves making 2 different loops with the laces. The first loop is the traditional one we start with when tying our shoes. The second one is a loop that the child will put their laces through and then pull.

Top Hole method:

This method uses the lace holes at the top of the shoe and has the child tying 2 "knots/loops" and ~wah-lah~ the shoe is tied. I have found this method to be successful with the children who have a hard time forming "bunny ear loops" and moving them in/out/around to tie the knot.

Bunny Ears method:

The tried and true old school way of tying one's shoes.

Quick Finger Play method:

This last one may be more difficult for some children as it requires a good deal of motor planning and visual processing in order to get the finger placement right but once mastered, it is a very quick way to get those shoes tied.

With most things, practice, practice, practice. Try your best to make it fun and above all else, encouraging, as many children have trouble with the motor planning involved with tying shoes and get frustrated and give up. Even if you try one method each session or try a method, add a fun activity for trying, and then try another one. Once a child realizes they can do it, they will keep trying. And each time they try and succeed, they will gain more confidence and be more willing to do it themselves.

Keep in mind that if a child continues to struggle, even after trying each method a couple of times, it may be time to wait another couple months and work on activities requiring finger dexterity, fine motor planning activities, and even some visual motor activities, before trying again.

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