Putting on Shoes: Encouraging Independence

This post was first published Aug 2011.

how to get your kids to put on their shoes

How To Get Your Kids Putting On Shoes

When a child learns how to put on their own shoes, it is like a small weight has been lifted. It’s one thing you can remove from your “to do” list prior to leaving the house. It is wonderful!

Here are just a few ways we encouraged Big Brother to put his own shoes on:

Buy Velcro Shoes (for now)

Velcro shoes are so much easier for children to learn how to put shoes on . You also don’t have to worry about tying their shoelaces! There will be a time and place for children to learn how to tie shoes, but wait until they have the fine motor control to manipulate the laces. That can be anywhere between 4 and 6 years old. I still had first graders in school who couldn’t tie their shoes.

Velcro sandals are a lot easier to put on than Velcro tennis shoes. I’m really hoping Big Brother can manage to put his own shoes on even as the weather gets colder because I’ve really gotten used to his increasing independence!

velcro sandals

Encourage, Encourage, Encourage!

Children need lots of encouragement! They’ll enjoy feeling “big” when they can do things themselves, but we also need to heap on the praise… especially when their intrinsic motivation is lagging.

Use Happy Face Shoes

Put happy face stickers on the inside of the left and right shoes. This will help your child to know how to put shoes on the right feet. When the happy faces are smiling at each other, the shoes are on the right feet!

The stickers will wear off pretty quickly, so you could use permanent marker (if you don’t mind the fact that it is permanent)… or just keep a stockpile of smiley face stickers.

putting on shoes

What strategies have you used to teach your child to put shoes on?



  1. I always tell my kids (40 mos., 25 mos.) when the shoes are on the correct feet, they look round on top like a circle, if that makes sense. (I had to show them the curve with my hand the first few times.) I like the smiley face idea for the younger one.

    For kids familiar with their alphabet, this is a great time to teach left and right. Somehow, that slipped through the cracks with me until I was in first grade, so I was determined not to let this happen with my kids! :) They can correlate the “feeling” of left shoe, left foot with an L marking, and it just doesn’t feel right if the letter isn’t!

  2. Hey there, while I do not have a child of my own, I have a long history of babysitting and nannying during high school and some college. The company I work with, Rhodes Invention Design & Development, LLC, has a product, Shoezooz (www.shoezooz.com) that was created to help children with the Right-foot, Left-foot dilemma. These adorable stickers are long lasting and make it easy for children to know which shoes to put on which feet. They were even featured in Oprah’s “O List” as one of her favorite things! I wish I had them years ago when I was helping children to learn their right-shoe from the left-shoe!

    Have a wonderful day!

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