Toggle site contrast Toggle Contract

How to help a child tie their shoelaces

Some children may struggle when they learn how to tie their own shoelaces. We have put together a series of tips, activities and strategies which may help.

Activities and tips to help a child tie their own shoelaces

To start with, let the child practice with the shoe in their lap. You could also ask them to practice with the lace around their thigh before expecting them to tie laces with their shoe on their foot.

Use different colour laces

For example, one black lace and one yellow lace might makes things a bit easier. See our how to tie shoelaces visual guide for an example.

Demonstrate the activity

Do this from a position next to the child. They’ll find the actions easier to copy from this position. Sitting opposite to demonstrate may cause confusion.

Sit the child correctly

For example, on a stable, firm chair. Their hips, knees and ankles should be ideally at 90 degrees. Alternatively, you can sit the child in a supported way on the floor.

Elevate the foot

Put the shoe onto a low surface so your child can see what’s happening. This will also reduce the distance that the child must bend down to reach the laces.

Use shortened and flat laces

This will encourage the child to pull the laces tighter and make it easier for them to handle.

Break down the process into steps

Make sure the child achieves one step before moving on to the next.

Try a forward or backward chaining method

Allow the child to start the activity while you complete it and break it down into smaller steps. This will help your child gain more independence until they can tie their own shoelaces. See our guide on the backward chaining method for more details.

You could also:

  • practice doing up dolls ribbons
  • tie belts around the child’s waist
  • practice using a skipping rope as it will be thicker
  • break the task down into your child’s own words.