Teaching your child to tie their laces

Learning to tie your own shoe laces is a tricky fine motor skill for children, but with patience and practice parents can teach their child to tie their own laces.

Velcro school shoes may make parenting easier, but they also threaten to destroy a childhood rite of passage – learning to tie your own shoe laces. Tying your own shoe laces requires a level of dexterity most kids don’t possess until they’re between five and seven, so take it slow.

Teach them how to tie shoe laces by practicing on a shoe with soft laces. It helps to actually colour in one half of the lace with a marker to make it a different colour and allow you child to distinguish between the two sides of the lace.

Sit side by side so you have exactly the same perspective and can help your child mimic your actions. Hold an untied shoe between your upper legs or knees. The shoe should be facing away from you so that it is in the position that your own shoe would be in if you bent to tie it.

Instruct your child to hold one end of the shoestring in each hand. Everything you tell them to do, you should also do so that they can copy you.

Cross the laces so that they form an “X” in the air. Wrap the bottom lace of the X over and through the top lace of the X. When it is pulled tight, this will form the base of the shoelace bow.

The easy bunny ears method of tying laces

Two bunny ears help the child tie a square knot, one of the easiest knots to learn. Try teaching this:

  • Fold each end of the lace into a single “bunny ear.” You can hold the “ears” in place between your thumb and pointer finger on each hand.
  • Cross the bunny ears so that they form an “X” in the air.
  • Loop the bottom bunny ear over and through the top bunny ear. This will create a second knot.
  • Pull the bunny ears out to the side away from the shoe. This will create a square knot that will not easily come undone and will hold the shoe in place.

How to tie a shoe lace the more complicated way

Take one lace in each hand and make an X. Draw the top lace through the bottom of the X and pull the two laces tight. Then make a loop out of each lace.

Step 2: Cross the bunny ears over each other

Cross one “ear” over the other, in the opposite order of your overhand knot.

Step 3: Run the bunny ears over each other

Explain how “the bunny runs around the tree” by bending one loop over the other.

Step 4: See the bunny jump in a hole

Now “the bunny sees a dog and jumps in the hole”: Pass the tip of the bent ear through the hole.

Step 5: Pull loops tight

For extra security, you can double the knot by making another overhand knot with the loops.

Practise tying laces with your child until he can do it himself. Using a homemade practise board can be helpful. Then have him practise tying knots while wearing the shoes. Before you know it, you can throw out the Velcro shoes and your child will have mastered some fine motor skills that will help in other areas of learning. They might even like to graduate to some funky advanced shoe lace tying techniques!

Make your own shoe lace practice board

Video tutorials on lacing styles

How to lace your shoes criss-cross style

How to lace your shoes over-under style


  1. Alezandra 02/01/2020 at 11:12 am

    I’d wait for my son to show interest in learning to tie shoes and then we will try some of these tips on learning and see which will work for him. I can recall that I myself took sometime to really get it right when I was younger. But like what the other moms have commented, patience is required!

  2. SarahBlair 01/01/2020 at 9:32 pm

    This is great Nicholas (5) is avoiding wearing his new shoes as they have laces and is opting instead for his old, badly worn, velcro shoes. He has to take his shoes at school when he enters the class so putting them back on with no help is easier for him. Before he returns to school I will teach him to tie his laces using this method

  3. Jen_Wiig 27/12/2019 at 12:14 pm

    I don’t even remember how or who taught me to do laces weirdly… Just feels like something I’ve always known. My 3 boys taught themselves.. I asked a few times if they wanted me to show them but always said no and then the next thing I know they’re tying them by themselves.
    We don’t wear alot of lace up shoes in this family but figured was srill important to know and this article shows a very simple way to teach kids how to too which super handy

  4. MuddledUpMolly 21/12/2019 at 9:23 am

    Tying shoelaces is definitely a tricky thing to overcome for small children! As a teacher,I am all about kids learning how to tie their own shoelaces when age appropriate and for our own son we taught him through the use of a youtube video as it was less confusing with my husband and I both trying to teach him in our own different ways.

  5. dawnblyth 20/12/2019 at 6:59 pm

    Tying shoes is a real tricky thing to grasp! It took my eldest son, who is 11 now, a while to master it and he still occasionally asks for help to ‘make it tighter’ especially for his football boots. With anything though practice makes perfect. And I agree with the statement in the article, go easy on your little one learning. This is a big deal!

  6. Micht 20/12/2019 at 6:21 pm

    I taught my daughter the same way…2 bunny ears etc… best way to learn is by practice and perseverance..they can do more than they know…

    • Shorrty4life1 27/12/2019 at 5:23 pm

      This is awesome. Showing step by step to tie shoe laces the easy way. Definitely need to go over this over and over again with my son. He got criticized by his teacher last year for not being able to tie his shoe laces by himself hes 6 but they think he may have dyslexia so he struggles learning anything as it let alone adding to the stress. I might try focus on this before school though as it makes him hate school if he gets told off for not being able to do something.

Leave A Comment