Little fingers need enough coordination to make those laces into a bow.

How to Teach Children to Tie Their Shoe Laces

by Kathryn Hatter

Although it might be tempting to keep your kid in strap shoes until she starts high school, eventually, you'll have to swallow hard and give a shoe-tying lesson. Yes, both you and your child will probably become frustrated during the learning process, but think of the benefits after your kid learns to tie shoe laces. The days of stooping to tie shoes over and over again will be long gone. She'll be tying her own shoes like a pro and finding other ways to keep you busy.

Cut the shoe laces in half with the scissors. Make two bicolored shoe laces using half of one shoe lace color and half of the other shoe lace color. For example, if you've got pink and green shoe laces, tie half of the pink lace to half of the green lace.

Get the old shoes ready for a shoe-tying lesson. Remove the old laces and insert the new bicolored ones. One shoe is for your child to practice and the other shoe is for you to use as a teaching tool.

Sit in a comfy spot with your kid to practice tying. Sit side-by-side on the couch, each of you with a prepared shoe on your laps with the toes of the shoes pointing toward your knees.

Tell your child to hold one lace color in his left hand and one lace color in his right hand. Show your kid how to cross one lace over the other lace (it doesn't matter which one). Demonstrate how to take the end of the crossed lace under the other lace and pull it through to make the first half of the knot. Make sure your kid pulls both laces tight to tighten the foundation of the knot.

Show your child how to make a loop with the right lace. Some people call this a "bunny ear" or a "tree" while teaching a kid. Try saying to your little one, "See how this looks like a bunny ear when you make a big loop like this?" The loop should be about 3 inches high and make sure your child is holding it tightly at the base of the knot with her fingers.

Demonstrate slowly how to grab the other lace and wrap it carefully around the base of the loop from the right and then behind the loop. Make sure your child keeps wrapping the lace until it comes back around to the front. You might say, "Watch me wrap the lace around the bunny ear until it comes all the way around. Now you try it."

Point out the little hole that your child just made when she wrapped the left lace around the right lace.

Show your child how to take the wrapped lace and push it through the hole. As he pushes the lace through, say, "Grab the lace on the other side while you hold onto the first loop at the same time."

Demonstrate just the right touch while pulling out the second loop. Careful -- pull too much and the loop becomes an untidy lace. By holding the first loop and pulling slowly and gently on the second loop, your child can tighten the bow and make the loops the same size.

Practice tying shoes as often as your kid wants to keep working on it. Don't ever make this a negative or unpleasant experience. Your child needs to feel your encouragement and approval as she works to master this skill. If she becomes frustrated, reassure her that it is indeed very difficult."Don't worry. We all had to learn. You will learn how to tie your shoes. As hard as it is now, in a few months you'll say, 'It's easy!'"

Do a cartwheel or stand on your head when your kid ties his shoes independently for the first time. This is a major accomplishment and needs a huge round of applause. You could even give out a little prize to reward the accomplishment if you desire.You could say, "Great job! Do you want a ... treat?"

Items you will need

  • Shoe laces (two different colors)
  • Scissors
  • Old pair of adult-size lace-up shoes
  • Small prizes (optional)


  • Choose a time when your kid is happy and content and when you have the time to be a patient teacher.
  • Using bicolored laces enables your child to see the different parts of the bow as she works on tying.
  • Don't push a preschooler too hard to achieve tying success. The Village Charter School cautions that kids aren't ready to learn to tie shoes until sometime between the ages of 4 and 6. Girls generally reach this milestone before boys.
  • If tension and frustration are rising to unpleasant levels, set aside the shoes and go burn off some energy together having fun.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images