9-year old son can't tie shoes

[deleted account] ( 7 moms have responded )

My 9-year old son can be a quandary at times. He is very smart (gifted program), he's funny and likes to tell jokes, he's witty and can come back with great one-liners, he's musically inclined and picked up the guitar quite easily, etc. However, he can't do a lot of simple things, such as tie his shoes or buttons jeans on his pants, or ride his bike well (he falls easily). He might be able to do these things if he really tried, but he gets so completely frustrated that within 2 minutes he practically screams and gives up, mad. I have been letting it go because we can avoid these things, but in the grand scheme, these are little things that he does need to learn. They are some foundations for the rest of his life. I don't know what to do when he freaks out - I don't know how to handle it. Any suggestions?


[deleted account]

Jennifer, I have researched autism and asperger's, but never dyspraxia... wow, those symptoms sound very much like my son. Well, a lot of them, but not all. I would like to get an expert's opinion to see if perhaps that what it is, though the article I just read said there really is no cure, just working through it. Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Kelly - posted on 11/03/2010




Well the important thing to do is teach him how to better handle his frustration because next year it will be something different. Some of the basics like doing his own clothes and shoes needs to not be delayed anymore. Say bye bye to the velcro shoes and find a weekend to practice. Frustrated or not he needs to learn. Riding a bike? Well things like that can wait until they are ready. When he is tell him to try it in small bites and then take a break. Teach him to walk away and calm himself before he tries again. Don't make a big fuss or give him any added attention. Praise the smallest of success's. If he has a temper tantrum for your benefit. Say "I am walking away now but when you are ready to try it again calmly i will help you". Then ignore him completely until he is calm. Make sure you are not trying to eliminate stress from his life becasue he reacts poorly to them but just plug on only perhaps in smaller steps.

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[deleted account]

@ Julie, I go back and forth wondering if tying his shoes is something we need to worry about... there are days when I feel like he needs to learn, but others that let me think he will learn when he is ready and for the moment he has other alternatives. We get into frustrated battles when we try to tackle it, so I admit that I avoid the confrontation when it isn't all that necessary. I do think I will try again soon when I know he might be able to handle it well or I can reward him with something.

Julie - posted on 11/03/2010




thanks to velcro we have a whole generation of kids who can't tie their shoes.. did he have tie shoes when he was a kid? most likely not...
My twelve year old still has a hard time tying hers... she grew up in Austin wearing Tevas and barefoot most her life.. so just isn't a skill she practiced a lot...
like anything if not exposed to it you wont pick it up...
my grandmother didn't drive!!
a kid I knew couldnt ride a bike at age 15 because he never had tried.

[deleted account]

It sounds like he's showing some of the sign of autism or dispraxia. I had a friend at school who was very gifted and was very musical but he had dispraxia and had bad co-ordination.

[deleted account]

I have to do this with my stepdaughter (age 9). She gets so MAD when she can't dress Barbie herself! Clothes get stuck...they don't want to go over her tiny waist....you know.
I whisper. I've learned from her FATHER that when someone is mad...furious...out of control....if you WHISPER when you speak to them...they HAVE to calm down in order to HEAR your words. If THEY are yelling...and YOU are yelling..so YOU can be heard over them...they aren't hearing a WORD of what you say. It has become a screaming match. Try a whisper...see if he calms down and turn his intensity towards trying to hear you.

There's also a easy trick for tying shoes. Once the boy can do a simple knot...one lace over the other, pull.....Show him that he can hold both laces in a loop (one loop in each hand)...then make a simple knot and those two loops tie together and make a perfect bow. Of course smother him in praise when he takes the TIME and PATIENCE to try! (that's a given, I'm sure you are already doing this)

Last thing I can think of to help him would be hand eye coordination exercises. Video games...crafts...or learning a musical instrument...just like you are already doing.

Becky - posted on 11/02/2010




Hi Jill,
Have you tried googling these traits?
As a childcare worker a few different things come to mind.
It could be gross motor or fine motor co-ordination.
It could be a form of autism as this would explain the frustration as well as being musically gifted, etc.
It could also be something much simpler like concentration or an emotional issue.
Doing things like jigsaw puzzles can help with developing patience, concentration, fine motor skills, etc.
There are several possibilities so it's definately worth exploring further. Once you understand the reasons behind it, knowing how to handle it will hopefully become easier.
Good luck

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