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Please, people — teach your kids to tie their shoes

Take a look around the elementary school playground these days, and laces are almost nonexistent on kids younger than fifth grade. Why are people so reluctant to teach their kids how to tie their shoes? Last time I checked, this was a life skill.
When we were kids, if we didn’t learn how to tie our shoes sometime in the first grade we ran the risk of tripping on the laces at recess. Or, if you were one of my husband’s little sisters, you risked having him tie your shoelaces together and hang you upside down from the doorknob. And there might have been a wee bit of peer pressure, making you most certainly not willing to be the only kid in second grade who couldn’t tie shoelaces.

But we are parenting in a new era now — the era of making things easier for kids. An era where everyone gets a trophy, all clocks are digital and Velcro shoes rule. So rather than taking the time (and patience) it takes to teach their children to tie shoelaces, many parents are opting to buy lace-free shoes instead. While this is a great solution for kids who are too young to have the fine motor skills necessary to tie shoelaces, it’s a problem when kids old enough to wear deodorant are still unable to tie their shoes.

So when should you start teaching them to tie? Most kids don’t have the fine motor skills to tie shoelaces until they are at least 4 or 5 years old — maybe even 6. Try for the first time when your kid is ready for kindergarten. You can teach him on a pair of your shoes if you don’t want to invest in shoes with actual laces for him just yet. There are also several shoelace tying games and practice aids that make it more fun to learn, like this wooden lacing sneaker from Melissa & Doug. Remember the old rabbit ears method? Tried and true, but there are tons of variations on how to tie laces now. Take advantage of YouTube how-to videos to help you find the method that works best for your kid.

Extra bonus points to the smart moms who take their kids to Nordstrom for their free shoe-tying classes. Who wouldn’t love to sit back in Nordies with Starbucks in hand and watch young 20-somethings teach your kid to tie? Add a balloon and a certificate and it’s a win-win.

Still having trouble with the whole thing? You’re the parent, you know your kid. Another year in Velcro shoes won’t cost you too much more in therapy bills. Just make sure to keep trying again on a regular basis, so you don’t wind up dropping him off at college wearing Velcro shoes.

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