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He can tie his shoes! (Finally)

I'm not sure if it's a 21st-century thing or connected to my oldest's anxiety, but he went most of his nine years without learning how to tie his shoes. Every once in a while I'd sit with him and try to get him to put the pieces together, but he always gave up in frustration when he couldn't get it. He wore slip-ons or asked for help with his running shoes.

And then he went away to camp with brand-new shoes. We instantly fell in love with the shoes when I picked them off the shelf at Clogs-N-More Kids; "but you're going to have to tie them," I said, "by yourself, by tomorrow."

"I can do it," he said, and sure enough! After a few practices with me, he did. When he came home he demonstrated his technique to me; perfect. And only a month past his 10th birthday.

Have any of you struggled with older kids who never learned to tie their shoes? Have you waited them out, like I did; or put in some intensive skills development? If you haven't yet reached the "finally!" point, take heart. Maybe your kid will be next.


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My baby brother was 10 years younger and he had difficulty learning. I would sit down and show him and he would give up in tears and frustrated. He would tuck in his shoelaces when he was embarrassed to ask someone to help him. We would sit down every couple months and work on it but same outcomes of tears and frustration. A couple weeks before I left for college, we sat down and he got it. No tears. No frustration. I took it as a sign that he was ready for me to go to college and would be okay without big sis around everyday to help him.

Both of my kids could tie their shoes at five since it was part of the Montessori curriculum at their pre-school. One child had a teacher who required children to remove their street shoes and wear slippers in the classroom and so all the children were expected to handle their own shoe tying straight away.

One of mine didn't catch on until at age 8, he was shown a "shortcut" by one of our math geek friends. Sometimes, other adult friends and mentors are needed in a child's life even for the little things.

My daughter picked it up at age 7, my son at age 5. I thought both of those were a bit late since I remember clearly being able to tie mine at age 3. With my son, one day he was just ready. I broke it down into steps, he repeated each step 3 times before we moved onto the next step and that was it. With my daughter, I tried repeatedly and she'd get frustrated and walk away, even though she really wanted to be able to do it. I think that was a situation where she would have learned better from someone besides her mom.

I bet it's like most skills--a combo of motivation, practice, and readiness. All those pieces have to fall into place at the same time AND when there's someone available to teach. Since so many shoes now are velcro or slipons, there's way less motivation.

My 8 yr old just learned in time for soccer to start. If YouTube can teach knitting stitches, I thought it might work for shoe tying. Of course it was the simpler way. But at least he can do it himself on the field, now. Whew.

Congrats to your son!

At 12 my daughter STILL can't tie hers and I never progressed past the "baby way" of tying. For all of you snickering, it's very, very common among dyslexics---which we both are.

Actually, it's considered one of the most classic tell tale signs!

No snickering here. I always thought the way I tied my shoes was a cultural thing - my mother from East Coast tied hers with two bunny ears and my dad from West Coast tied his in the rabbit-around-the-tree method. I took to the bunny ear method, as did both of my boys, in the same year at around ages 10 and 8. My husband ties his "around the tree" and hasn't tried to change the boys' ways.

I suppose mine will learn when he has shoes with laces... he is 7/2nd grade. He wears crocs all summer and boots much of winter. he does have a pair of other shoes but at his size (12/13), they are still without laces, so he has nothing to tie.
I also tie my bunny-ears sytle, haveing never learned any other way!

My 8 year old was having trouble with his shoes coming off and on during class last year (slip-ons) and his teacher asked us to try tie shoes. He had refused to learn up to that point, but when he had no choice, he learned it in about 3 days. My little one is in first grade but has never owned a pair with ties and has feet still in the toddler-sizes where I can't find any with ties. I guess he'll wait until he has to do it as well!

The bunny ears and the bunny around the tree methods both come out exactly the same way. I guess it really doesn't matter which way you do it as long as it's done! I never really thought of that before. I keep assuming my daughter (7) will go from the ear to the tree as she gets older, but what is the motivation? I think when I was a kid, people would make fun and say that was the "baby" way to do it. I wonder if that is still an issue.

Does anyone know why there are all these foreign language posts, that when translated, make no sense, or are repeats of what people already posted? I don't get it.

@Debby, believe it or not, it's a marketing thing on their part. Much of it is to move their SEO rankings up.

My girl is 9 and is not so hot at it - soccer cleats she says are tough because the laces are short, so we double knot those for her. I think it is all the slip on shoes available. I feel kind of embarrassed we aren't so good at it - it's a matter of practice believe.

@jess---or again, dyslexia, not practice.

I'll add that it also has nothing to do with fine motor skill developement, either: I sew, embroider, needlepoint and knit (though I never progressed to cables)--as well as being pretty crafty. My daughter's a gifted artist.

Your brain just works a little differently and some stuff that's hard for others is super easy, while other stuff that's very basic is overwhelming.

Oh thank goodness my son isn't the only one! I totally remember learning to tie my shoes before 5. My son just turned 6 and has owned 2 pairs of tie shoes (both which I regretted buying due to frustrations on both sides). I blame slip-ons and velcro! I have to admit, when I buy my kids shoes, I pick the ones that are fast to put on and know that they can do it themselves.

I had a problem tying my shoes for a while. In fact I eventually decided to stop wasting time with it and I just tied them well and then pushed my feet in and out. Never bothered me. Tying shoe laces takes time when you're in a hurry. When I learned to do it properly I was happy with myself since I didn't have to push my feet in and out if I didn't want to.

My problem then was that I am left handed and I make the tie in a different direction from most right handed people. For that reason it was hard for me to get the way they did it.

Please add more good information that would help others in such good way.

I am 30 and i still cant tie my shoe Strings
I struggle with spellings & I am a dyslexic
I cant tell Left from right
I have poor hand & eye coordination

I dont wear shoes with strings
I am a Sr. Manager with a Reputed firms
I use a computer to do my spellings
The GPS tells me right from left
People around me hardly notice my struggle with simple things ...

Point is: Let that Kid Live , Don't Judge him by what he can not do, But what he is good at.....

Thanks for the nice blog. It was very useful for me.

Love this post. I wonder what you think of when people say "irregardless." That one gets me EVERY time. Snoring Doctor

If you will definitely shed weight as well as keep the item away, there is absolutely no level denying your self the actual foods you enjoy, candy by way of example. Just don't try to eat the item typically and try to eat just as much.

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