September 30, 2006

Please Help! Teaching How to Tie Shoelaces

A Reader wrote:

Hi. I'm hoping this website is still active since last post date was in July. I came across this site during my ongoing search for ideas, articles, advice, etc. on how to help my left-handed 7 year old with everyday skills such as writing, tying shoelaces, etc,.

My son has mini-hissie fits whenever he has to wear shoes with laces to school. Understandably, he fears his classmates will see him getting his shoes re-tied by a teacher. This is one of a few tasks he hasn't been able to master. Unfortunately, another problematic task for him also involves getting dressed - buttoning/snapping shirts & jeans. I think it's due to the right vs. left positioning of the snaps/buttons and my own inability to teach him how to tie shoes the way a lefty does. I, like the rest of the family, am right-handed (for the most part), but it never once crossed my mind to try to force him to use his right hand. I witnessed my friend's husband doing this to their toddler. He did not want his child to experience "what it's like for left-handers growing up in a right-handed man's world". Backstory - he's right-handed and gets perturbed whenever left-handers are seated next to him because they "crowd and bump" him. For Pete's sake.

Because I don't agree with that kind of logic I would appreciate suggestions, tips and/or advice from all the gracious lefties out there!


P.S. Where can I find Rosemary's articles (other than 'back to school' & 'hot flashes') and illustrations? The links aren't working.


  1. Hi, LeAnn. The website is active. Sometimes people just don't post a lot.

    Which articles in particular are you looking for? I'm not aware of any links that aren't working. If you have a problem with a particular link, please be specific so I can test it.


  2. I don't know if there is really a difference between the way lefties and righties tie their shoes. I have seen people use different techniques for shoe-tying. Some children have a little more trouble than others learning it, no matter which hand is dominant.

    One suggestion for righties having trouble teaching lefties to do a manual task: Try using a mirror. Your actions will appear reversed and it may be easier for the learner to copy you.

    By the way, your friend's husband sounds like a bully. He is probably short-tempered and unreasonable in many other ways, not just with lefties.

  3. Oh, yes, another comment! I don't think the right-left positioning of snaps and buttons matters much. Traditionally, men's and women's clothing is designed with the buttons on the opposite side. Not all modern manufacturers follow this convention, but most still do. Compare your blouses, jackets, etc., to your husband's, and you will see what I mean. It doesn't seem to matter whether you are left or right handed, it's just what you are used to. Different children master these skills at different ages, and it can be frustrating for a child who is a little behind most of his friends, but patience and practice will eventually win.

  4. Hi LeAnn,

    My lefty daughter taught herself to tie shoes in Kindergarten by watching the other kids. BUT (and I think this is really important here) she had excellent fine motor skills from very early on. Your son's problems with shoe-tying and buttons may not be a left-right issue, but rather a fine motor issue instead. I've known several right-handed kids with just the kind of difficulties that you describe. You may want to have him evaluated by an occupational therapist who will be able to suggest effective ways to improve his fine motor abilities.

    Good Luck!

  5. To teach your child to tie shoe laces sit opposite him/her and tie your own. I'm sure I don't need to tell you to do it slowly and have him/her copy you. By sitting opposite your child you are doing everything like in a mirror image. They will be able to follow your example without getting confused.

    I had a school sewing teacher show me how to hand stitch a hem this way. Until then I just couldn't master it.

  6. I'm 36, so this was a few years ago, but my mother found a left handed lady at our church who showed me. We were friends witht eh lady and only after a few times I had it down pat. Strangely I still do it an odd way, like that lady, but hey my shoes stay tied.

  7. I've created a video that shows shoe tying from both a right-handed and a left-handed perspective. I've posted it as a message in this forum, or you can view it on YouTube at

  8. I've created a video on shoe-tying that can bee seen on this website, or on YouTube at

  9. Thanks for the video. My LH daughter was having troubles learning how to tie shoes. It never dawned on me that there was a LH way to do it. I'm going to try again, using my LH as the dominant hand.

    I have to say, it sure is eye-opening when you're RH and a child is LH.

    Thanks again !

  10. try the Over Under or the Straight Bar. Both are visually striking but inoffensive alternatives to the norm. Next, take it up a notch with the Diagonal method.


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