My toddler is fiercely independent but how do I help him to put his shoes on the right feet? It can be so tricky... I don't have all the answers. He puts his own shoes on 100% of the time (at 25 months). But he has no way of telling which shoe is for which foot, except for those with a side closure like his slippers and sandals. If he put his shoes on the wrong feet I don't correct him, but with some shoes it causes him to trip up more and it looks uncomfortable. First I want to address how important independence and autonomy is at this age.
"It is easy for adults to simply see that the “shoe is on the wrong foot,” as opposed to the immense learning process that went into the outcome. This is often why parents step in to “correct” the mistake, and put their child’s shoes on for them. In effect, deflating their child’s new-found sense of accomplishment.
By taking away a child’s ability to “help me to do it myself,” parents are infantilising their children, and failing to acknowledge their budding self-care and problem-solving skills. While this is a simple example, it establishes a pattern, where parents take on responsibilities for their child." - Why are my child's shoes on the wrong feet? at Montessori Academy.
I've found a few tips that may be useful in helping children put their shoes on the correct feet. Which tip works best depends on the child's age (can they read, do the know left from right) and also the types of shoes that they have.
7. Try Shoes Stickers. These are pre-made stickers that we can put inside the child's shoe that match when the shoes are put together. The toddler can recognise the bird coming together!
There are many types of shoe stickers available, our picks include:
- Shoezooz Educational Shoe Stickers for Kids - this is what we use, works well, very cute!
- Personalised Waterproof Scuff-Proof Match-Up Shoe Labels - these stickers are personalised so it saves you from naming your child's shoes if taking them to daycare, or school.
- Mom Invented Shoe Clues.
- Sole Stickers.
- Shoe Matchup Name Labels by Sticky Monkey Labels - these are also personalised.
- Laufkleber Shoe Stickers (EU) - my toddler would love this set!
8. Peg the shoes together. Shoe stickers are fantastic but what about for slippers (with soft/fuzzy soles), boots or rain boots where the child cannot see the inside sole, or for shoes with wool insoles?
We use clothes pegs. This isn't so helpful when out and about or at school, but at home we can re-set the shoes once the child takes them off, and peg them together so the left shoe is on the left and the right on the right. It makes it much easier for the child to get them on the correct feet! This peg tip is from How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way.
It also takes time and consistency. A young toddler needs to learn to put the stickers together or learn to unpeg the shoes and still get them on the right feet. They will still make mistakes. We need to remember that children make mistakes so that they can learn for themselves. We hope that when they wear their shoes on the wrong feet they will feel a little different and perhaps as the child ages they can self correct.
I'd love to hear if you have any other tips that have worked for your children or students!
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