How do I get my 4 year old to stop walking on his toes?

Is there a way to get a 4 year old to walk normally and not on his toes?

40  Answers

10 20

while toe walking is a sign of autism, it is also a normal toddler behavior. My three year old does and I ask her to walk with flat feet and she does. You may try correcting the behavior this way (include a demonstration of yourself going from on your toes to flat feet as they may not completely understand what you mean). The concern is the shortening of the Achilles tendon which will affect how they walk later in life. The secondary concern attached to that is that they already have a shortened Achilles which would require medical attention. (IE physical therapy, braces and in extreme cases, surgery) If none of this is an issue and he can flatten his feet on his own then he may just be precocious :) and enjoy the view from the extra 3 inches. If autism is a concern, some symptoms you can look for are lack of eye contact, repetitive behaviors, anti social behavior (less and less talking, doesnt want to play with friends or go out in public) a deep lying need for a strict routine and if that routine is botched, an emotional meltdown. I wish you luck and hope you find the solution!

K.H. Child Development Specialist

16
1 7

I am a pediatric physical therapist. I see kids in my clinic all the time for toe walking and they do not have Autism. Toe walking along with many other signs maybe a sign of Autism spectrum and if you are concerned I would speak to your pediatrician. Otherwise, You may want to have you child evaluation by an orthopedist or physical therapist who specialize in kids. Often time it is a fun thing to do that turn into a habit. It causes shortening of the heel cords which then makes it difficult for kids to achieve flat foot position. Stretching heel cords, massage for the calf, playing in squatting with heels down, and doing the opposite (walking on heels) as a game often are the first steps to helping to break the habit. Hope this helps

13
0 30

AGREE 100% Right On Jessica!

View More
3 6

I'm sorry but I have to respond to this. The word autism is thrown around like it is a cold. Kids are kids, they walk on their toes, it most likely has nothing to do with autism. My 3 1/2 year old son does it at times and he has no signs of autism. He's a very active, talkative child. He is very social with people and has no behaviors outside of what a 3 1/2 year old does.
My suggestion, which is what I do with my son, is we work on walking flat footed. I walked on my toes till I was about 5 or so, and I am far from being autistic. It really irritates me when that word is thrown around, I believe it is used far too often as a well we can't handle your child's problems, this is what it is. My ex was told his son was autistic and ADHD and all kinds of crap, given tons of pills, but when he was with us, we never gave him the pills, I am not giving a child Clenadine, nor am I giving a child Prozac, he never needed it with us. We were active with him, went to parks and never had any problems with him.

10
0 13

I do think the autism label can be thrown around too easily and quickly, but something to think about.... One of the challenges of autism is sensory processing. A child can need more proprioceptive feedback and not necessarily be autistic (if there are no physical problems causing the toe walking) to give the brain what it needs to function properly. I applaud you for not jumping straight to drugs and keeping him very active. IF he indeed has a mild sensory processing issue, you have through activity probably eliminated the need for Occupational Therapy and given him a healthy way to stimulate his brain. I am not autistic, but my daughter is and my whole family struggles with a sensory processing disorder. Physical activity, weighted blankets, etc. are a must. Mine is bad enough that light is hard to process, much sound, my skin feels like it crawls, and I have to give pens, etc. a death grip to have good control (which caused severe carpal tunnel and tendinitis from a very young age). I stomped stairs to not fall over and swings felt like roller coasters. Oddly, what I needed was certain types of stimulation, but ironically, what my body experienced had me running from it. Anyway, kudos for moms who try altering diets (from whole foods to GAPS protocol or casein gluten free), supplementing with fish oils and probiotics, and/or adding various physical activity first and foremost. It sounds like your son was blessed by it.

View More
6 13

I don't know if you still need help with this but my daughter walked on her toes when she was younger and we saw a physical therapist who told us to go to Stride Rite and buy some hard soled tennis or walking shoes that would be harder for her to bend when she walked. I know they are expensive but within a couple of months it worked and now she walks just fine and can wear any kind of shoe.

9
3 0

I did the same thing, only not the Stride Right Brand because we do have one here, but Wal-mart carries a very similar style with a very firm sole. They are boot style and I bought 2 pairs so that I would have one pair when she out grew the other. I also discovered that Squeaky shoes (shoes that squeaked when she put her heel down) caught her attention. So I bought her some and every time she wears them you can see it in her eyes that she is thinking really hard to put her foot flat each time she wake so that she hears the squeak. I also rub her legs, knew and thighs often as they seem to hurt her quite a bit. Especially after she has been a sleep for a couple of hours. Nighttime is the worst, she will usually way up once or twice from her sleep with her legs hurting. The muscles seem to tighten up and this causes a lot of pain and she will arch her back and straighten her legs. It is hard to watch but once it passes she completely calms down again.

0 30

Wow, all these diagnosis for what could just be a small habit. I walked on my tip toes as a child all the time for many years. My muscles are fine, and my walking is fine and all my functioning is fine. I think for me I just wanted to see a wee bit higher, and that I also loved to dance. Maybe he could be the next dancing star! But if it were me and i was worried, i would just Ask your doctor to make you feel assured that it's not as drastic as it sounds with all the other comments.
:)

6
23 11

yes it would be a good idea to bring it up with your child's pediatrician. i have worked with children with special needs for over 8 years and it is sometimes a sign of autism. the doctor may say its nothing to worry about, sometimes they just stop on their own. remind him to use his flat feet :) autistic children toe walk to avoid sensory sensation on their feet but many toddlers do it for the same reason and do not have autism. i hope this helps! if you have other questions feel free to email me at jessishroyer@yahoo.com :)

6
10 20

Jessi I have been working with kids for years and never new knew the sensory sensation avoidance. Not something they teach where I went I guess! Thank you!

1 6

I too, would check out the prospects of asperger's or autism or sensory processing disorder. My oldest son walked on his toes and he's now 16. When I would chat online to other moms they all said he'll grow out of it, and at age 8 i mentioned it to the pediatrician and he recommended getting him evaluated by a pediatric occupational therapist. He was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder...look that up....as he got older it was clear had aspergers. And to this day, i still catch him on his toes, and i have 2 other kids on the autism spectrum that have it as well. They are all high-functioning.

5
2 6

I have 3 kiddos..all of them do/did it..My oldest is now 12 and she grew out of it bu the time she started school, I remember that because I had asked her teacher if she did it at school and she said no, it was around that time I noticed it started to fade away...no autism in any of my kiddos (no disrespect to Siobhán Weldon ) My 4 and 5 year old still do it sometimes...and let me tell you they all have calves to die for ;) And yes they even run like that sometimes..so honestly I wouldn't let it bother you...

5
5 29

I walked on tiptoes for years - but it was from doing ballet. I still sometimes do now as my husband spots me doing it and laughs at me and I am 36. One of my girls randomly does but for no reason at all - and she has no problems at all. If your boy is fine I wouldnt worry to much about it :)

4
0 13

In my case, my son has been diagnosed with mild integrated sensory disorder. He has always walked on his toes since he started walking and is 4 years old now. I notice that the types of shoes/socks he is wearing (or if he is bare footed) seems to make a difference. If you think your child may have some sensory issues it is worth some simple observation to see if certain situations are prompting it.

4
1 12

My daughter was diagnosed with "idiopathic toe walking" and it was corrected with casts and braces...she could not physically walk "normal footed", as her achilles was not stretched enough. They're not sure if she trained her achilles from the tippy toe walking or an original bad achilles forced her to tippy toe walk. Either way...she still does walk on her tippys, but atleast now she can physically walk correctly...it's a "mind thing" now. At age 4 Im surprised your pediatrician hasn't noticed yet? This is not something to be ignored or to say it will simply go away... I suggest a visit to the pediatrician probably followed by an orthopedic :)
All the best :)

4
1 4

My son is 3.5 years old and has walked on his tippy toes since I can remember. We had an orthopedic evaluation done this year and since ortho. needs were ruled out, we were sent to PT. They have worked with my son for 3 months now and we are seeing progress. They said he does not have sensory issues and they feel it is a habit. Our goal now is to keep his Achilles stretched and flexible, and to strengthen his hip flexors. He over pronates so we bought him a great pair of sneakers that were recommended by the therapist. We just gently remind him to walk flat and make a game of it, "let's walk like a giant". We have also explained to him that if we forget to do stretches and walk on our toes too much we COULD get a "boo- boo" on our legs (we show him where). He goes right down on his heels and that's the end of the conversation. I think the right thing to do is go through your pediatrician and follow through with the recommendations from the specialists.

3
0 24

I agree that you should speak to your pediatrician about it. But if he can walk on his flat feet normally, it's probably just a habit he's gotten into. My son does it. We just remind him to walk on his heels or "feet flat" a lot. But to help ensure his Achilles don't get too tight, we duck walk (i.e. walk on our heels) to stretch them out, and also lean up against the wall to stretch his calves (just like an adult would to stretch their own calves).

3
12 39

There are various sensory processing disorders. I think the one where they walk on toes it a tactile disorder. There are other symptoms that go along with it. It may not be autism but alot of children with autism display syptoms of various sensory disorders.

3
59 20

I agree that you should bring it up with your child's pediatrician. There are other conditions that would manifest in him walking on his toes. For my nephew, it was muscular and required physical therapy. You never know until you ask.

3
36 2

My oldest son, now 22, walked on his toes from the time he took his first steps until he was around 11 or 12. His pediatrician found nothing wrong with him physically and he was able to walk & stand flat footed with no pain. We always encouraged him to walk "with his whole foot" but tried not to make a real big deal out of it. He could run like the wind on those tippy toes and has rock hard calf muscles to this day.

I have heard that this is a common trait in preemies....but remember, that was 20 years ago so opinions could have changed by now. My son was 3 1/2 months premature. We really weren't so concerned with how he walked, just grateful that he was alive and healthy!

2
0 0

My daughter is 41/2, walks on her toes, and was also a preemie born over 2 months early and has no signs of autism so maybe it is still a common trait!

View More
0 5

Sometimes it is caused by development sometimes it is preference of the child but also I know someone who has a child that had to have surgery on his legs because his tendons or muscle or something was to short and it forced him to have to walk on his tip toes so if they can walk on there flat feet then you just have to reinforce it and keep reminding them to walk on the flat part of there feet if they don't act like they understand what the flat part is then show them what you are talking about

2
0 1

My son(6) is a toe walker and has walked on them since he was walking along furniture. He could not walk flat foot and were referred to a specialist. His tendons were too short but we opted away from surgery and had him casted for 6 weeks to stretch the tendons. It helped. He still goes up on his toes but not as often as he did. I think as he gets older and grows bigger he will stop altogether. I wish we would have started the process sooner. I suggest speaking to your pediatrician about it. My son is not autistic and this is the first time I have heard of the coorelation.

2
12 7

Our twins were evaluated at 6 months by a developmental pediatrician. They had started walking on their tip toes and the reason, they were spending way too much time in their walkers. They suggested no more than 1 hour a day which was nearly impossible since I would have to hold both of them most of the day. The habit did go away on it's own from getting them out of the walker.

2 10

I would definitely have it checked out, even if just for your own peace of mind. Walking on tippy toes in boys at this age can be a sign of muscular dystrophy.

2
2 48

Agree. With my oldest we were so worried about toe walking and autism, we missed that it could be something else. Unfortunately, his is caused by Muscular Dystrophy. We started doing braces at night to help stretch the muscle and hope to avoid casting him this summer.

46 20

Start with changing your thought pattern. Stop trying to make him change and just observe what he does, looking for clues why.

1
0 12

My daughter turns 5 next week and she walks both on her toes and flat footed. I think that her toe walking has alot to do with the fact that she walked around in a walker and when she did she was on her toes. I know from the time we got rid of the walker she has done both types of walking. My daughter is too active and too social to be autistic. We tried Stride Rite shoes and she wore them till she was 3 and she still walked on her toes. I think it becomes a habit, and like other habits you just have to work with them to break that habit.

1
1 22

I think before we make assumptions on any type of diagnosis for this 4-year old, why don't you try this first. When I was a toddler, my mom said I would walk on my toes and all she had to do was buy me those shoes or sandals that makes a sound on every step that I make. And because I enjoyed the sound, I figured that I have to walk the proper way to enjoy it more. Because the heel triggers the sound, he might be encouraged to use his heel when he walks. Also, there are shoes that lights up when both toes and heels are used. Try that first and see if that works. It might not even be as bad as we all think.

1
0 0

Thanks , where can one buy such shoes that make sounds Amina

4 6

I used to tip toe all the time at that age as well. In fact that's how I was given my "Tip-Tip" nickname as a baby. My 3 year old son also does that, he started from the when he was starting to walk, every so often you'll see him walking on his tip toes. I don't think it's anything to be alarmed of.

1
0 11

I don't usually respond to these, but there is a possiblity it may be neuromuscular.. Our kids both walk on their toes and have been diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition called CMT. It's hereditary so we knew about it and were armed with information, and now they both wear braces to stretch those muscles. They're young and it was very important for us to have them diagnosed at a young age so we could be proactive as possible. Definitely talk to your pediatrician. The more you do now the better off he'll be.

1
2 61

My oldest daughter did that for a long time. She is not autistic. Our doctor said it is a normal toddler behavior and as she got older, it became a habit. We just had to remind her to walk on her feet instead of her toes and she eventually outgrew it. Now my 3 1/2 year old son is doing something similar so we are beginning to remind him also.

1
1 17

My son did this for a brief period of time when he was a toddler and we were told by his development specialist to put him in Converse All star high tops. Worked like a charm and he was not walking on his toes anymore within a few months.

1
12 0

Find some light up shoes, and show your little boy that when he puts his heel flat on the floor the lights will go off! :) sometimes the soulution is simple just don't over think it! I have done this with all of my kids and it worked like a charm!

1
12 35

There are a lot of reasons that he may be walking on his toes. It could be anything from signs of autism to signs of epilepsy. Or it could be as simple as he just wants to walk that way at this point. Remember when kids first start walking with our help, they are holding our hands as we keep them up and they tend to be on their toes at that point. While he will probably just outgrow this naturally, I would say that if you are really worried about ti to talk to your pediatrician.

1
0 22

I have a friend whose son started doing this, I guess around that time--he's not autistic for sure, but they just let it go, thinking it was a phase; by the time he got into Kindergarten, though, his tendon had shortened so much that he COULDN'T stand on his feet flat, and he is now having to do physical therapy to lengthen the tendon (and is coming along well)...still, if they had mentioned it to their doctor earlier, maybe it could have been avoided--better safe than sorry :)!

1
5 34

Toe walking can be a symptom of all sorts of things. And, it can also be normal. The best thing to do would be to bring it up to your pediatrician and they can assess if it's something that needs to be addressed or not.

1
1 24

we had same problem. my son always walked on his toes. at age 5 we took to orthopedic dr who put him in casts for 6 weeks then he was fitted for braces. dont wait! see an orthopedic specialist right away. toe walking will result in scoleosis later in life.

1
1

I have a friend whose 4.5 year old walks that way.. she recently had casts on her legs to help get her feet and legs more accustomed to the flat footed position, but she still out of habit walks on her toes most of the time.. my friend has to remind her and reward her for walking flat footed and they will have to put some braces in her shoes now too I guess. Her daughter is just a regular kid who walks on her toes (no neurological problems or anything), but they know that it can actually wreck your achilles tendon and legs (and I bet toes!) down the road. It is not my child, but I would personally suggest making a big deal to praise and reward a kid (who can physically do it anyway) for each time you see them walking flat footed.

0
    Edit  |   Delete  |   Get Your Widget
0 0

Have your pediatrician check to make sure that the child does not have shortened tendons. Walking on the toes is often a symptom. It will not get better on its own.

0
2 0

First things first in my opinion, always get it checked out by a doctor if it is a prolonged issue. If there is nothing wrong medically, I agree with many others in that he will grow out of it.

0
8 0

My daughter walked on her toes as a toddler. She was autistic so that was blown off by everyone. She walked on a weird way, but oh well. probably sensory issues.
One day ,mom was sitting my daughter on the kitchen counter, and noticed one leg was shorter than the other. It ended up the toe walking was only on one side and that was the way she developed to even out the difference in her leg lengh.I feel so sorry I never noticed before. That foot posture will shoten the aquilles tendons and it can only get worse. MY daughter was evaluated for pt and they said her foot was on the way to become the ballerina foot. Stuck in one position. I hope your case is not similar but it doesnt hurt to check.
Good luck!

0
0 0

While toe walking doesn't mean your child is autistic, my 2 year old "toe walker" has been diagnosed with autism. Simply telling her to stop is not an option because she doesn't understand. Her therapists have suggested using a weighted vest which you can find online.. some are kind of pricey but they are really easy to make as well. They say continuous toe walking can damage her heel cords and also hurt/make sores on her feet. We have only been using this for a couple weeks, but I see less toe walking already!! Good luck!

0
353 0

You know you could sit and try to guess as to why or is there something wrong? I suggest just asking your pediatrician and ask to see a specialist in this area if you are not satisfied with the answer. It could be something or it could just be normal. Most of the time it is just a habit that can often be broken by wearing shoes.

0
2 0

Hi, there can be a perfectly simple explanation for children walking on their toes, sometimes if they have been in walkers with wheels when they were younger they may have walked on their toes, this causes the tendon on the back of the leg to tighten and when they are put walking without the aid, they remain in a tip toe position as the tendon is too tight. This is a very simple operation if it needs to be done and is very successful. I hope that may help you.

0
6 0

I did not read through all respsones but there are "squeakers" shoes that squeak when the heel touches ground. The squeakers are removable too. he may waalk heel toe with these, Ive seen them work with other kids.

0
4 14

First thing, have him evaluated by a physical therapist/orthopedist to make sure that there isn't any permanent lasting damage from an extended period of toe walking. Next, also have him evaluated for sensory dysfunction of any kind. His toe walking may be a result of not feeling his feet when he is barefoot and so he toe walks to compensate. If the toe walking only happens when he is barefoot, maybe have him wear shoes until he gets ready to get into bed. To help with this problem for my son, dx autism, we put weights on his shoes with velcro to give him more input. In 6 months he stopped toe walking. Hunter usually does these odd behaviors to get the type of input that he craves. Jumps into a head stand to get deep pressure on his head or gets on the floor and drags all the pillows and blankets on top of him to get deep pressure all over his body. We take our cues from his behavior and can help him calm down with the appropriate kind of sensory input. My nephew had an extended period of toe walking and with physical therapy now is very much a regular teen driving his Mom crazy. Most importantly, you know your child better than anyone else does. If you think or feel that something isn't quite right or not what it should be, make a lot of noise, make a medical professional listen to you. You are the advocate for him. Good luck.

0
1 4

My friends daughter is 5 and always walks on her toes. Its so bad she cant walk flat. They just put casts on both legs from her toes to her knees. It should work..then aggressive PT.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms