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1, 2, Tie Those Shoes!

Your child has mastered his buttons and zippers; now it's time to tackle shoelaces. Most 5- or 6-year-olds have the fine motor capabilities and depth perception needed to learn the skill, says Joseph Hagan, M.D., a pediatrician in South Burlington, VT. To get him started:

  • Using a string, show him how to tie a half-knot. He can carry a string with him to practice on.

  • Next, have him try tying a big shoe, off his foot. A man's shoe with long, fat, bright laces will do nicely. Face it away from him, on the correct side of his body.

  • Use imagery: Teach him to make the first loop, then tell him that it's a tree and the thumb holding it in place is a rabbit. The other hand wraps the remaining lace, a fox, around the tree, then pushes the rabbit farther into its hole.

  • If this gives him too much trouble, for the time being teach him to make two loops (one from each end of the lace) and use his half-knot to tie them together. Have him add a second half-knot for security.