How To Tie a Shoe Step By Step Tutorial

My son still couldn’t tie his shoe as he entered 2nd grade, despite our best and most patient efforts. Here’s the trick of how we finally taught him to tie his own shoes and how you can get your child to do it, too!

Last month I was at a party for families. One of the moms was talking about how her son still can’t tie his shoes. Oh, I have a solution, I told her. As I was describing the steps, she said to me, “You should write a post!” And so, this tutorial on how to tie a shoe step by step is for her (you know who you are!) as well as all the other moms struggling to help their kiddos to learn this skill. This post contains affiliate links.

How to Tie a Shoe the OT Way - Step by Step Tutorial | The Jenny Evolution

How To Tie a Shoe Step By Step

My son Vman has always had poor fine motor skills. Working with scissors, grasping a pencil, zipping up his jacket — all of these activities take some considerable concentration from him to achieve thanks to his Sensory Processing Disorder. It’s not that we haven’t worked with him on his fine motor but it’s just not what his body wants to do.

So you can imagine how difficult it was for my son to learn how to tie his own shoes. For years, I’ve bought Geox shoes. One — they breathe and anyone with boys knows how unbelievably stinky their feet can get. Two, they have velro straps so Vman didn’t have to tie his shoes.

Learn my trick for getting rid of shoe odor! It’s a fabulous way to naturally get rid of those smelly shoes without throwing them out, and it works.

We had tried on multiple occasions to help Vman learn how to tie a shoe when he was in 1st grade. I thought back to when my dad taught me. I can still picture myself sitting in my room in an old blue armchair with my dad at my feet showing me how to tie the laces. I wasn’t an expert at the beginning by any means, but I was able to accomplish tying my shoes. Vman…. not so much.

When Would My Child Learn How to Tie a Shoe?

I had heard stories of kids teaching others on the playground. Wouldn’t that be a dream?!? But alas, that’s not how it worked in our case.

At some point, I said to my husband – perhaps we should just wait a year.

Then a year passed. And we were right where we started.

The only difference was I had an opportunity to try some kid shoes that had laces. Vman really wanted those shoes. But I had no intention of going back to putting on someone’s shoes like I had when my boys were toddlers. No thank you!

Thankfully, being so involved in the sensory community has its privileges. I reached out to some pediatric occupational therapists I know online for pointers on how to get Vman to tie his shoes.

Red Shoes Tied

How to Tie Shoes for Kids with Fine Motor Difficulties

There are a number of ways you can teach a child to tie their shoes. “Wait, what?” you’re asking me. Oh yes! You can teach them how to make the bunny ears to tie their shoes. Or you can teach them to make the one loop, wrap the second lace around and threw and pull (which I’m guessing is how most of us currently tie our shoes). But there’s another way — one that saves your kids from having to have mad fine motor skills.

  1. Cross over the laces and pull tight.
  2. Then do another cross over, but this time don’t pull it tight like a knot. Leave a loop in the middle.
  3. Take one end of a lace and thread it through partway through the open loop. Do the same with the other lace.
  4. Then pull the other edge of the rounded lace to close the loop. The shoe will be tied!

See my tutorial below on how to tie a shoe step by step below!

It is possible for your kiddo to tie their own shoe! It will take some practice, but because they don’t have to manipulate the laces as much as the traditional way of tying a shoe, it’s much easier to accomplish.

Be patient! Your kiddo will get it!

If your child is too young to tie their shoes or still need additional help, consider the following no-tie solutions: 


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  1. Hi there Jenny! I’m brand-spanking new to your blog (I found you last night:-)! I just wanted to tell you this is a genius post. Such a great topic. I don’t have kids yet, but I’m sure there are many parents out there who will appreciate this. It’s something so second nature to us older folk:-) that it can be overlooked. Fantastic post, Jenny.

    I’m also participating in your link party. I’m a relatively new health/fitness/lifestyle blogger and a complete newbie when it comes to this whole party thing.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to host. I have no doubt it’s a lot of work.

    • Welcome welcome welcome to The Jenny Evolution. So pleased you found me 🙂

      And so glad you’re joining my linky party. My regulars know that I do features every week — but even if you don’t get featured, I Pin A TON from the party, too 😀

  2. This is unbelievably brilliant! I work at a preschool and my little ones with no issues at all struggle with tying shoe laces. Will be teaching them this trick today itself… And the let the practice begin!!!

    Thanks a ton 🙂

  3. Hi Jenny! Awesome tutorial. I wanted to also suggest that from a visual motor standpoint, it would be easier if the lace within a single shoe had color contrast – half one color, half another. (Can use a sharpie on half the lace, or buy online….) But obviously your child learned without needing that contrast! Thanks again!

  4. Thank You!!!!
    My son is 9. Every year we try to learn how to tie laces. Each year it ends in tears and frustration. He prefers slip-on shoes…so that’s what we do.
    But cleats are embarrassing when the coach has to stop and tie his shoes for him… (I don’t think my son cares, it’s me who is embarrassed )
    But after five minutes of the method you shared -my son is so happy that he can tie his own shoes!

    • That puts such a HUGE smile on my face 😀 I can understand your son’s frustration. My kiddo has fine motor dexterity issues as well and we used to do slip on shoes or the ones with Velcro. But this year, after learning the technique, he was determined he wanted these cool shoes with shoelaces. He can tie them himself every day.

      It’s funny, but we don’t think about how much our kid’s self esteem can be connected to such a simple act but I know it made a huge difference to my kiddo. I’m thrilled to hear your son tried this method and that it worked well for him.

  5. I can’t access your video. Please help. I was really interested in helping my little one learn how before going into the first grade. F

  6. Hi Jenny!! I am a first grade teacher and this is one of the HARDEST thing I teach my students each year. I have to admit. I watched the video about 15 times before I got it!!! Now that I do, I can’t wait to teach my students and even my own kids!!!!!!!Thanks!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I love this! My son just turned 5 and this is something we are going to work on this summer for kindergarten. I’m so going to show this to him and try it this way. My 18 year old cousin still doesn’t tie his shoes! I wonder if he could get it this way too! I’ll post back if this works.

  8. Thank you so much for this Jenny! My SPD kiddo really needed a more direct method of instruction and you have one! Thanks so much for providing the help that I couldn’t.

  9. Hello!! I am reaching out because I saw your pin on Pinterest and I said, this!! My kid who is about to finish 1st grade is struggling with this as well other things, and I really believe that he has a fine motor issue. I had mentioned it to his speech therapist as well as the pediatrician, but non of them can point me to a good start. A what age do you take your child to an OT?? I need to find out more about this. Thanks so much for this post!!

    • My first question would be what does the school OT say about how the fine motor struggles are affecting your child’s handwriting? I had them assess my kid for hand strength and ability to manipulate a pencil first.

  10. Hello there! I am an outpatient pediatric OT! I do like this method and use it for a few of my kiddos but there is one drawback that I’ve noticed through my experiences. Oftentimes, if the kid does not untie them appropriately or tries to untie by pulling the end of the string, it ends up in a nice little knot. Just be aware of this when teaching your kids! I have actually had much better success with my fine motor kiddos by using the traditional method (loop and wrap around) while practicing with a color contrast shoe lace (ex. yellow on one side and red on the other) and by telling them a cute little pirate story to help them remember the steps! Just offering some other thoughts, but very glad this was successful for your child! Good luck everyone else!