Life is busy, and having young children can often slow down our adult schedules. Especially during transitions (leaving the house, leaving a restaurant, leaving the playground…leaving anywhere). One way to support your child’s budding independence and make up a few minutes in the process is to allow your child to do as much for himself as possible. I know, it sounds counter intuitive, however, young children are often more inclined to be a part of the transition if they can be active in the goal. They do not like to be passive members of the family, and they enjoy knowing what their role is. They feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
How might you prepare? The first thing I recommend is to show your child how to put on his own shoes, as soon as he starts walking. It is amazing how young children can do this with just the right set up. There are 3 key pieces to preparing for success:
- A place for the shoes – Place your child’s shoes always in a consistent spot, so they know just where to find them; on a rug by the door, in a basket in their room…do what works for your home and keep it consistent.
- A place to sit – A child needs a low bench or chair, proportioned just right for his top-heavy body, having a place to sit by the door can help him to balance and focus on one foot at a time.
- The right shoes - The right shoes make all the difference. There are so many cute options out there, however this is the time to think of function first!
Shoes for new walkers:
- have a flexible sole
- should not have a moulded arch
- do not cover the ankles
In addition to all of that, the part that is going to make this process work is the closure. Velcro is the answer. Slip-ons, buckles, and laces are not useful until later. The shoes should have a single velcro strap the is easy to pull back to get the toes in and then easy to close tightly enough with one hand. Many shoe styles have a velcro strap that crosses over and back across the top of the foot. This will not work, and here is your remedy: Cut the strap, stitch it together as in the picture and then you are good to go!
You can do this with your sewing machine or have a shoe repair shop help you. The next step is to show your child where every thing is, how to use the space, and Tada!…you are out of the house!