Shoe Guide: What to Do When Your 7-10 Year Old Can't Tie Their Shoes?


It's the first day of a new school year, and your kiddo is all ready to go! They have a brand new backpack, a hip new outfit, sharp pencils, and an awkward pair of velcro sneakers.

They're still missing one thing—self-esteem.

It's incredible how something as small as being unable to tie your shoes can impact a child's confidence. What's a parent to do?

There are many reasons why your 7-10 year old can't tie their shoes, but there is no reason why they shouldn't feel like a million bucks as they board the school bus each day. We've created this shoe guide to help parents navigate the shoelace struggle. Below, you'll learn our best tricks for tackling shoe laces with older kids. 

Read on to discover our top shoe tips for parents who are ready to help their big kids get their smiles back. 

Why Do Some Kids Struggle With Laces?

When do kids tie shoes? Most master this skill by the age of six or the end of first grade, whichever comes first.

Still, many children have trouble learning to tie their shoes because of an underlying developmental disorder. For most, the struggle boils down to executive dysfunction.

Executive functioning skills involve a child's ability to focus, plan ahead, follow steps in order, and coordinate their movements. Tying shoes requires a strict sequence of steps, varying amounts of pressure, cross-lateral motions, and coordinating both hands independently. That's a lot for anyone to keep track of!

Executive dysfunction is a symptom of many conditions, ranging from Autism Spectrum Disorder to ADHD. If you have a kid struggling to tie shoes, consider a developmental consultation. A therapist can help— and they may even make shoe-tying a therapy goal!

The Best Shoelace Tips for Kids (And Parents)

Our best tip for helping kids master shoe tying is to break the process down. Encourage your child to slow down and work on one tying-related skill at a time. That might mean spending a few weeks learning to tug on their laces to tighten them... yes, before you've tied a single knot!

Work on one skill until your child has achieved mastery, and be sure to provide positive support and encouragement each step of the way. Celebrate each success, whether it's a first knot or a successful bow.

If tying shoes the traditional way is taking a while, consider introducing an alternative method. Many children grasp onto the "bunny ears" method, as it has fewer steps. 

Our Lace-Free Shoe Guide

Most older kids don't want to rock velcro kicks in middle school, and we don't blame them. That's why we created U-Lace no-tie shoelaces, a convenient and stylish alternative.

U-Lace laces are bright, fashionable, and fun, turning any pair of sneakers into slip-ons. Best of all, they look just like traditional woven shoelaces, so your child won't feel self-conscious as they strut down the hallways or conquer gym class. No sneakers are off-limits, so kids can show off their unique style with nearly infinite options for customization.

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Kids Love Their U-Lace Kicks

Many adults take tying their shoelaces for granted. Take a moment and remember what it was like to learn those steps for the first time. Kids with executive dysfunction need a little more time, and your support and positive reinforcement are essential to the process.

In the meantime, we hope our shoe guide provides a confidence-boosting starting point for parents. Kiddos love our mix-and-match U-lace no-tie laces, which come in every color you can imagine. Browse our U-Lace Kiddos collection and discover what a confident kid looks like in action.