One of the biggest milestones in a child’s journey to independence is the ability to put on shoes and socks by themselves. It may seem silly, but this is major step in a child’s capabilities to perform ADLs or “Activities of Daily Living.” It gives a child the opportunity to allow a sense of control of their own lives. When your child is first beginning to learn this skill, it can feel like they will never be able to get a grasp on the concept. Figuring out which way the socks go, maneuvering their foot into the right position, or getting their toes to the very tip can be very overwhelming. This increases body awareness, balance, coordination, fine motor skills, hand strength, and improves grasp. Our Occupational Therapy Department has written a few helpful tips and tricks for you and your child to work together on this goal!
Before You Get Started
Although this seems like a simple task, putting your shoes on has many complex aspects to it. Firstly, it is important to remember the type of shoe you provide your child with. Slip on shoes with large heel openings are easiest, followed by Velcro shoes, then laced shoes. Additional fasteners like zippers or very fitted shoes may make things more challenging. There are also a few questions you should ask yourself before you begin working. Is your child able to sit on the floor or in a chair unsupported (i.e., without using hands)? Can your child physically touch their toes or attempt to? Can they shift their weight from side to side without losing balance while sitting? Can they identify body parts (i.e., pointing at their feet)? If the answer is not yes to all of these questions, it may not be the time to start working on these skills just yet, or it may be appropriate to contact our occupational office for an occupational therapy evaluation.
It is incredibly important to set your child up for success before attempting a new goal. Picking an appropriate time to begin working on this is an example of just that. If you are rushing out the door (i.e., running late for school or daycare), this will only cause stress to both yourself and your child. Lastly, a small but incredibly important tip is to make sure they are sitting down first. Having your child sit on the floor, chair, or step stool provides external support allowing the child to focus less on keeping their balance and more attention on the fine motor elements of the task.
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