Knot Interested…

The Hubs and I recently took our son out to buy some new sneakers and he protested the entire way. It’s not that he didn’t want new kicks, but rather he was unhappy with the type we told him he was going to get. For the first time in his six years of shoe-wearing, he would have laces instead of Velcro.

THM_KnotInterestedWhy was he protesting?  See, my kid is a whiz at figuring out video games and building intricate structures out of tiny LEGO pieces.  He can also operate complex technology like our home computer, my iPhone and iPad better than his dad or I, but for some reason he thinks that tying his own shoes is a skill that is way too complicated and impossible for him to master.

The Hubs and I promised him that we’d help him with tying his shoes until he learned to do it himself and reassured him that his teacher would do the same should shoes come untied at school.

After just a few days of instruction, I thought things were going pretty well. My boy was already putting his sneakers on all by himself, without having to ask mom or dad for help. Well, that was until I actually watched him one morning putting his sneakers on. A-ha, what a clever boy!   Apparently he was just slipping his feet in and out his already tied sneakers.  He realized if he didn’t untie his already tied shoes (by mom, dad or teacher), he wouldn’t need to re-tie them the next day. But if he could figure out a solution to that complex problem, why can’t he tie his shoes?! I guess I’m partly to blame. I was the one who always got him Velcro sneakers – because I didn’t want to be tying his shoes all the time!

Now I remember when I was in kindergarten — way back when, 35 years ago to be exact – that in addition to knowing your letters, numbers, colors, days of the week, there were several motor skills you needed to have in order to “graduate” to 1st grade including tying a shoe, buttoning a shirt and using scissors. I guess schools don’t do that anymore, they  focus more on academics and a student’s overall self-esteem and not everyday life skills.

I was both glad and horrified to discover though that we’re not the only ones left untied. I came across a British news story from 2012 that reported a study that showed fewer and fewer school children (aged 5-13) could tie their shoes before the age of six and that some even had difficulty tying their laces by age ten!

I can’t imagine my son being 10 and not knowing how to tie his own shoes! It just sounds lazy to me, so this week I’m putting my foot down, pun totally intended. It’s my mission to teach my son how to tie his own shoes in five days.  Since bunny ears and loop it swoop it tying techniques didn’t work, I turned to the almighty Internet for suggestions.

Have you ever heard of “Magic Fingers?” No, we’re not talking vibrating beds from the 70s. This is a technique that claims to be able to teach kids in five minutes how to tie their shoes. Luckily there’s a video that actually shows you how to do it (and an actual six-year old girl doing it afterwards):

Here are the actual steps:

Step 1 – Cross the laces like normal

Step 2(Right Hand) Put your thumb and first finger in front of lace – fingers facing toward you (Left Hand) Put your thumb and first finger behind lace – fingers facing away from you

Step 3 – Pull your fingers forwards so you feel some tension and twist a little so that your fingers are facing each other.

Step 4 – Pinch the laces in between the opposite fingers

Step 5 – Pull through

Step 6 – You’re all tied!

Seems pretty easy right? It was for me until Step 2. I had a little trouble positioning my hands like the woman in the video, but that’s my own spastic problem. The other tricky part is knowing when to let go of the pinch and pull through.

Sneaker tying boot camp officially starts today. I showed the video to my son last night as a sneak peek and he was genuinely interested in it. He liked that it only had a few steps and said “oh, that looks easy.” I’m confident that he’ll be able to get the hang of it in no time, at least if this mom can accurately remember these steps!

Now it’s your turn to share. What technique did/will you use to show your child how to tie their shoes?

Now it’s your turn to share. What’s your favorite type of soup to make?



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    • TheHarriedMom says

      I have to say, that while mom mastered the Magic Fingers technique, my son didn’t. But his dad gave him another primer in bunny ears and within a 1/2 hour he could tie his own shoes!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      It was super helpful for me, but not for my son. He could get all the way until you had to grab, pull and let go. He wound up trying bunny ears again and now he can tie his shoes.

    • TheHarriedMom says

      My son DID NOT want to learn. He said to me “if they make velcro shoes, why can’t I just keep on using those, I don’t have to tie them at all!” Luckily after a half hour of this video/technique, his dad taught him bunny ears again and now he can tie his own shoes!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      I know what you mean. My son complained the whole way to get his new sneakers and then in the store tried to negotiate with me….if you let me get velcro ones I’ll clean my room everyday! Luckily boot camp worked and in one hour he learned how to do it! He still doesn’t like it, but at least he can do it!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      That’s a great idea, a shoe tying club. His hand motor skills aren’t all that great – we’ve been working with jacks, dice to strengthen his wrists – and tying falls into that category. After a very intense hour on Monday – a 1/2 hour with this video/technique and then going back to the bunny ears method for 1/2 hour – he now can tie his shoes!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      I’m using this technique for myself now, so easy to do. As for my son, not so much, he went back to bunny ears and can totally tie them now!

  1. says

    My husband is 30 and he loves video games, all things technological, and can do complex math problems in his head but he can’t tie his own shoes to save his life…well he can but they come untied five seconds later. And I also remember when they use to teach this in schools but according to my niece they don’t require it anymore.
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    • TheHarriedMom says

      My Hubs is the same way – he’s always re-tying his shoes. But I give him props. After a half hour of showing my son this video and trying this technique, The Hubs spent about the same amount of time trying bunny ears with him again and now my son can tie his shoes.

    • TheHarriedMom says

      That’s so great and so encouraging for kids. My son got a Skylander for learning how to tie his own. He had to do it 5 times on his own before getting the toy….a little carrot on a stick isn’t it?

  2. says

    My boy is only 2. I haven’t even thought of how we’re going to approach lace shoes, but I will definitely consider them well before he starts school – just so he isn’t so thrown off by laces (because he gets thrown off things easily.)
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    • TheHarriedMom says

      You’ve got plenty of time. I wish I would have at least introduced laces or started earlier with him, but now after 1 day of boot camp, he can do it all by himself!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      That’s great! My son didn’t actually learn from Magic Fingers, he was getting frustrated at the pinch, pull & release part. The hubs sat down with him and went over bunny ears with him again and he got it!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      I think we’d all prefer velcro! My son had a difficult time with the pinch, pull and release part. Only have a knot would be there. We eventually went back to showing him bunny ears and after a 1/2 hour he got the hang of it and now can do it all himself!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      My son is 6 1/2 – he had no desire to learn. why should he when he knows velcro will do the job just as well. We tried Magic Fingers in bootcamp and he had difficulty with the pinch, pull and release part – so The Hubs spent a 1/2 hour going over bunny ears again and now he can tie his shoes on his own!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      He gave us such a hard time when we were teaching him. He even cried. But the look on his face when he finally did it himself was amazing. He felt great about accomplishing it!

  3. says

    Good for you for putting your foot down! My oldest was too lazy to learn and I didn’t have the patience to make her. Finally when she was about 8 years old I taught her. I think she was embarrassed enough to zip it and learn. These kids, I tell ya. #SITStribe
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    • TheHarriedMom says

      I took a survey of his classmates – it was about half that could and half that couldn’t. The half that could were mostly girls!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      My son has the same issue. we use dice and jacks to try to build up his coordination in his hands/wrists and eyes.

  4. victoria says

    I showed my two older sons how to tie their shoes but all the pairs of shoes they likes since had a fake lacing look so they haven’t had to do anything at school.

  5. says

    My ex husband taught my daughter to tie her shoes so I am just hoping he will do the same for our sons who are now 5 & 7 but have zero interest in tying shows. Sadly our 7 yr old has a mood disorder combined with an anxiety disorder sooo he isn’t too easy to teach especially since medication is off. Fingers crossed my sons learn soon! I can’t teach this lesson, I have tried and I just don’t “get” how to show them .. I am not good at showing people how to do things like this.
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    • TheHarriedMom says

      Just try to have patience. I couldn’t do it after a 1/2 hour so The Hubs stepped in and now our son can tie his shoes!

  6. says

    The other morning while getting my daughter ready for school I placed her clothing, shoes, and socks on the bed next to her. I went to the bathroom to get her hair brush and when I came back the shocks and shoes were on… and TIED! She is only four and I was shocked she did it all on her own without any help or guidance. She said she learned at school and I was so thankful that her teacher helped her accomplish this!
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    • TheHarriedMom says

      Wow, that’s awesome. I remember learning in school…but it was by necessity. There were no velcro sneakers when I was in kindergarten!

  7. says

    My boys all learned really quickly. Do the first step you normally do when tying shoes. Then make two loops (maybe this is the instructions you posted above, I’m not sure) and cross those two loops over like you did in the first step and your shoes are tied! It’s the same step, only the second time you are doing it with loops. Good luck—he’ll get it! :)
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    • TheHarriedMom says

      My son had the biggest grin and high-fives all around when he finally tied his own shoes. We’re now a few days in and he’s a pro!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      I agree, boys are sloppy and untied. You don’t know how many times I have to tell The Hubs to tie his shoes!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      I’ll be honest, my son had difficulty with Magic Fingers. He couldn’t get the whole pinch, pull and let go part together correctly. We went back to showing him bunny ears – and after a 1/2 hour he got it. Lots of patience….at one point I had to just hand it over to The Hubs to show him!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      For some reason even double knots don’t stay tied on my boy…it makes me wonder what he does all day to keep making them come untied!

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