Practical Tips for Teaching Your Child How to Wear Socks and Shoes
Wearing socks and shoes is almost instinctual for adults; you can put them on and take them off without having to think about it. For small kids, however, learning and completing the task can be challenging because their fine motor skills, finger and core strength, and other physical faculties are still developing.
Perhaps your little one is already trying to put their shoes and socks on without your help. If so, you probably see them struggle and get frustrated with the process. Before they lose interest or stop trying altogether, you may want to help lay the groundwork for success. From giving them the right products to demonstrating the correct sequence of the process, here are practical tips you may want to consider to train your child how to wear socks and shoes:
Practice Using the Right Items
As with other tasks, you’ll want your child to start easy and slowly progress until they master the art of putting socks and shoes on. That said, you may want to shop kid’s antimicrobial socks in a slightly bigger size for better grip and easier manipulation during practice. One of the best things about opting for antimicrobial socks is that they prevent the growth of odour-causing bacteria on the fabric, helping keep the feet clean and fresh-smelling as well—perfect for your precious baby!
Besides using upsized socks, also consider getting them Velcro or pump shoes initially as these are less troublesome to handle than pairs with laces or buckles. Also, try looking for socks and shoes with appealing designs and colours to entice your child to practice repeatedly.
Set the Stage
Consider designating a specific area close to the front door where your little one can practice the task conveniently. Set up a small chair beside a wall, so your child can lean on it while wearing their socks and shoes for better stability. You can also put a shoe rack here where your kid can see and access all their favourite shoes. When you have such a “getting-ready area,” you can readily teach your child the habit of wearing their footwear before heading out the door.
Develop Necessary Skills Needed to Do the Task
Perhaps one of the best ways to teach your kid to get the hang of wearing their socks and shoes is by helping them develop the skills needed to do the task successfully. You can do so by introducing activities that mimic the positioning and movements related to putting on socks and shoes. For example, you can let your child practice using rubber bands. Show your kid how to stretch and pull the rubber band over the toes and above the ankles. Afterwards, ask your child to sit and repeat the same movements a couple of times on both legs.
This rubber band activity may seem simple, but it offers multiple benefits. Your child will be able to practice basic skills required to wear socks and shoes with ease, from postural control and executing new movements to enhancing hand skills and concentration. Try to make the activity more engaging by turning it into a game. You can roll a dice and the resulting number will determine how many rubber bands your child should put on as a challenge. Or maybe you can set a timer to see how fast your kid can put the rubber band on and off.
Demonstrate How to Wear Socks and Shoes
Once you have enough practice with rubber bands, you may want to move on to the real thing. Teach your kid how to wear socks and shoes by modelling. Narrate and demonstrate every little step with enthusiasm and a smile. For instance, you can say, “Now we are going to learn how to put on our socks. First, let us get our favourite pair.” Afterwards, show how you bunch up the socks, slide your toes right in, and pull them up. Make eye contact and ensure that your child is paying attention to what you are doing.
After demonstrating once, let your child do the movements with you. If your kid finds it hard to bunch up the socks themselves, you can do this step for them and let them do the rest. You can also remind them about the rubber band game to give them confidence and encouragement.
Try the same approach when teaching your child how to wear shoes. Break down the steps as you show your child how to slide their foot inside the shoe. Consider practising with slippers first if your kid can’t put on their shoes correctly, even after several attempts.
Be Patient and Trust Your Child
Learning a new skill takes time. As such, try to be patient, especially if your child is not progressing at your desired pace. Offer encouragement using words and actions when your kid feels frustrated, and be generous with your praise when your child does something well. Most of all, learn to trust your child.
Although it may be tempting to offer assistance every time you see your child struggling, it is best to let them try to overcome the challenges as often as possible. When your help is absolutely necessary, consider guiding your kid’s hands instead of taking over completely. That way, your child is still exerting effort and included in the learning process.
Mastering the art of wearing socks and shoes is an essential developmental milestone. It is one of the signs that your child is growing well and learning to become more independent. As your little one tries to navigate this challenging journey, be ready to offer support and a helping hand. If you don’t know where to begin, consider the tips above and continue discovering new ways to make the learning process more fun and engaging.