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Shoe tying can be a complicated and frustrating process for any child, especially if your child struggles with fine motor skills, attention, or has difficulty learning and remembering multi-step directions.


Never fear! Pediatric Therapy Center occupational therapy services are here! So, let’s tackle this challenge together!

There are different ways to approach shoe tying based on how your child learns. Some children benefit from visual aids, rhymes, or being taught in a particular order. Listed below are a few teaching methods and adaptations to assist with shoe tying at home.


There are multiple methods to use in shoe tying. Listed below are a few of our popular methods we like to use at Pediatric Therapy Center. Be sure to check out our videos on how to complete each technique!

· Single loop method: This is the most common method. Encourage your child to say “loop it, swoop it, pull” each time they attempt tying their shoes until it becomes second nature.

· Double X: This is an easier option to the single loop method. We recommend trying this method first if your child has difficulty with fine motor dexterity and strength. Encourage your child to say the steps or get creative and turn them into a song or rhyme! Check out this video for extra visual assistance. 

1. Go over and under (Optional: Go over and under a second time to keep the lace tight)

2. Pull tight

3. Make another X

4. Go over and under

5. Pull and leave a circle

6. Stick each shoe string through the hole. Make sure there is a loop and a tail!

7. Take both bunny ears

8. Pinch the loops and pull!

· Adapted Bunny Ears: This is an adaptation of the “Double X” or “bunny ear” method. By placing the laces in the shoe holes, this stabilizes the lace and allows the fingertips to have more control.

1. Make an X

2. Go over and under (Optional: Go over and under a second time to keep the lace tight)

3. Pull tight

4. Place both laces into the holes on each side of the shoe

5. Pinch the bunny ears

6. Make an X

7. Go over and under

8. Pull tight


· Try using different colored shoe laces so that your child can learn right from left

· Use longer laces

· To make the shoe laces longer, leave one less hole on the shoe

· Use elastic shoe laces for additional grip

· Practice on a shoe tie board or oversized shoe before having your child practice on themselves

· Use visual aids such as a book or written out steps

· Use auditory aids such as a rhyme or poem

· Add duct tape to show your child where to hold their shoe lace

Learning to tie shoes is an important achievement that your child will value. The journey of shoe tying may be a difficult path to travel for any child, but teaching children how to tie their own shoes raises self-esteem and promotes independence. Shoe tying can be fun and painless. Our hope is to make shoe tying a memorable and positive experience. If you have any additional questions about shoe tying or how to add a creative edge to your teaching approach at home, Pediatric Therapy Center occupational therapy staff are here to help!

Sara K. Welniak, MOT, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist

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