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To think that being able to tie shoelaces does not equate to good parenting?

(77 Posts)
ElusiveMoose Wed 07-Sep-11 13:13:49

There was a debate on Radio 4 this morning relating to the headline about childcare costs, and one of the guests (don't know who she was) was using it as an opportunity to bemoan the lack of stay at home parents (surprise, surprise). As part of her argument, she suddenly exclaimed that 'the lack of one-to-one parenting has led to a situation where many children start school unable to even tie their own shoelaces!'.

Now, this is drivel in all sorts of ways that I won't dwell on (I didn't come on here for a debate about SAH vs. WOH), but it got me thinking about shoelaces. More specifically, I would be very interested to know how many of your starting-school-age children can tie shoelaces? I'm a gave-up-my-career-to-be-a-SAHM person of the sort that this woman would no doubt approve, but my nearly four year old son could no sooner tie a shoelace than fly to the moon (admittedly he's not actually starting school this year, but he would have been if he'd been born two weeks early instead of two weeks late). I haven't asked, but I imagine most of his little friends are the same.

It seems to me that the reason lots of (most?) 4 year olds can't tie laces is because a) it's actually quite a tricky skill, requiring considerable dexterity and practice, and b) very few shoes for young kids have laces these days. I was in Clarks today, and I noticed that they didn't have a single pair of school shoes with laces for young boys; the only laced ones were a couple of pairs of hiking-style boots.

So, in a nutshell I thought that this woman's assertion was the kind of lazy, thoughtless and baseless kneejerk criticism of working parents that we hear so much of. But then I got to worrying that maybe my son is unusual, and that other kids his age are busy tying endless Gordian knots with happy abandon. Opinions, please?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 07-Sep-11 13:16:27

YANBU..... the 'all working mothers are crap' brigade often trip themselves up... hopefully over their own shoe-laces, why not?

grubbalo Wed 07-Sep-11 13:17:51

No you're definitely absolutely NBU!! No doubt her children were also able to cook a 3 course meal by the age of 6 and were out making themselves useful (sweeping chimneys perhaps?) by a similar age.

In all seriousness my (only just) 4 year old wouldn't have a hope in hell of tying his shoelaces and - dare I admit it - can't even manage buttons. He can get dressed himself, and do up zips (i.e. on his coat) but his hands just aren't coordinated enough yet to do the rest. I am not about to start worrying that he is under developed just yet - most of his friends are exactly the same. Anyway, isn't that why velcro shoes were invented?

Must admit it hadn't occurred to me that it was all to do with the fact I work 3 days a week though, that is clearly letting us all down in ways I'd never imagined...!!

2BoysTooLoud Wed 07-Sep-11 13:18:03

Well my 6 year old still has his velcro do ups on his shoes.
Can you imagine PE if all 4-6 year olds had laces!!!

LiegeAndLief Wed 07-Sep-11 13:20:39

My ds started school at 4 and 3 weeks and could barely put his shoes on, never mind tie the laces. I don't know any of his friends who can.

He also couldn't hold a pencil properly, still can't really use a knife and fork properly (he's just 5 now), couldn't get himself dressed very well - I am utterly convinced (after much much effort trying to teach him to do these things) that this is nothing to do with my parenting and all to do with his motor skills development.

cantspel Wed 07-Sep-11 13:21:35

I never even tried to teach my boys to do laces before they started school. They had velco shoes until about year 5 as it was just easier. They are now teens and can do laces but i never actually taught them as such. It is just one of those life skills they picked up along the way.

itisnearlysummer Wed 07-Sep-11 13:22:39

Being able to tie laces is a stage of physical development, not an indicator of parenting skills!

School shoes have velcro so that the teacher doesn't spend all day doing undone laces back up after playtime, pe, itchy foot at carpet time and many other occasions. It means young children can develop independence and it's fine.

Soups Wed 07-Sep-11 13:23:46

I don't think many young children can tie shoe laces because they don't have to! There's not that many shoes for school starters with laces. It's only the last year or two that my eldest, 10 years, has been given the option of laces with his shoes. I've tried teaching him to tie laces on and off for ages but it's something he avoided at all costs.

He went to school yesterday wearing a pair of lace up shoes but they came undone and he could only find one child in his class who could do them up. Fair enough, I couldn't tie a bow tie because I've never had to. He came home and for the first time really concentrated and practised, at 10 1/4 he finally tied laces for the first time.

Graciescotland Wed 07-Sep-11 13:23:51

It's not a great example but I see her point. I've met school age children who can not tie their shoelaces, zip up their coat, effectively wipe their bottom, get changed for PE by themselves.

TBH they tend to come from homes with shared custody and working parents where quite a lot of molly coddling has gone on. I think if your DC's are only with you three/ four days a week it's easier to spoil.

I don't think your DS is unusual, most parents leave it later to teach children to tie shoelaces as it isn't necessary IME

MadamDeathstare Wed 07-Sep-11 13:24:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lizcat Wed 07-Sep-11 13:26:12

I am a WOHM whose DD could tie a bow before she went to school. I still sent her with velcro shoes as it made life much easier for her.

mnistooaddictive Wed 07-Sep-11 13:28:24

I am SAHM and dd1 has just started school never having had shie laces. I doubt she can tie them. I am clearly a double failure. Don't care though!

Whatmeworry Wed 07-Sep-11 13:29:50

There was another point, just before the laces one, that impliesd increasingly kids are having to wear pull-ups to school as they are not yet toilet trained. Now that interested me more than shoelaces but it was sort of glossed over.

Nagoo Wed 07-Sep-11 13:29:51

Yep. As I'm not at work I stood over him when he was 3 and a half making him tie bows again and again until he could do it hmm

No. He can't tie shoelaces. He's never been near a shoelace. I actually took my laces out and replaced them with elastic as it's easier to put them on with a baby in your hand.

I've never even seen little boy's shoes with laces in.

Kayano Wed 07-Sep-11 13:34:50

Who ties shoelaces anyway?!

Stuff them in your shoes lol

piratecat Wed 07-Sep-11 13:35:17

dd is 9 and can't. or at least has never been faced with laces, since all her footwear up till now has had a buckle, a zip or a velcro thingy.

she has new trainers with laces, and i've done them for her the last two days.
till i teach her its the least i can do, so i consider myself a good parent actually!!

Marymaryalittlecontrary Wed 07-Sep-11 13:36:34

Even when I was little and most boys' shoes had laces I'm sure most didn't learn to tie them properly by themselves until they were about 6.

Whatmeworry Wed 07-Sep-11 13:38:15

Btw my Perfectly Reared Boys had velcro shoes until they got too big to have them grin

ElusiveMoose Wed 07-Sep-11 13:39:55

Hurrah, I'm not alone! And maybe not such a bad parent after all. Whatmeworry I missed the toilet-training comment, as I only switched on at the shoelaces bit.

The other thing I got to thinking is that DS1 developed much greater independence when he started nursery at 3 than when he was at home with me, and that a lot of his life skills have come at least as much from there as from home. I don't think that's because I'm a bad parent (although I confess, I do molly-coddle him a bit as he's my darling pfb grin), but simply because kids learn very effectively from watching other kids, and also that an interested but slightly detached authority figure (e.g. a teacher or nursery carer) can sometimes encourage the learning of new skills in a more neutral and less combative way than a hassled parent.

Sorry, I digress from shoelaces.............

canistartagainplease Wed 07-Sep-11 13:42:56

Its only tieing shoelaces , one hand eye activity , not brain surgery and nothing to get so upset about.
Spent some time with my 4 3/4 year old so make sure they could do it just before they went to school, and then gave them buckle /velcro shoes to be going on with,whilethey got settled into the school routine.
I do think its a good practical skill, to teach kids as a fun thing. We played dressing up at play school, and that kind of thing, and the eldest sat and taught the youngest.
You may think i'm being simplistic, but all things being equal, it was a nice little skill to pass on to prepare them for going to school.
And for me to feel they were a bit prepared, and being a child is made up of lots of little steps like these, whether you are taught by your parent or older sibling.
I still remember being taught how to do it by my brother,in 1967.
Sometimes even redundant skills can carry memories.

ineedabodytransplant Wed 07-Sep-11 13:43:05

Crikey, I'm 54 and still can't tie my shoelaces like 'normal' people.

Not because I'm thick, have no motor skills etc. I am an electrical engineer but cannot manage a proper shoe-lace tie.

What a failure(I blame my mum)..blush

Rowena8482 Wed 07-Sep-11 13:45:15

I have always been a SAHP (more or less, worked part time sometimes but when I did DH was SAH) and my 17 yr old STILL wilfully refuses to even attempt cannot tie his laces. He has just never seen the point somehow, even when he's had shoes with laces, he just sort of tucks them in and gets on with it. I gave up trying to MAKE him learn years ago, what's the point?

Bramshott Wed 07-Sep-11 13:46:42

Was this the same guest who was citing "so many children these days are starting school in nappies" hmm? I lost the will to take her seriously at that point TBH.

Rowena8482 Wed 07-Sep-11 13:47:58

And having missed point completely blush can I just add grin that my 9 yr old can tie a bow, and has been able to for a year or more, but my almost 7 and almost 5 yr olds can't. I'm not actually sure if pfb can or not now I come to think about it - I have a feeling he does a weird Thingy that ends up looking like a bow, but itsn't actually constructed like one.

Scholes34 Wed 07-Sep-11 13:48:52

Teaching the tie-ing of shoelaces was something for Granny to do when she visited. All my DCs had managed to do this competently by the age of about 8 - there being little need to do this before then as they had velcro fastening shoes.

I had learnt to tie laces by the age of 4, as my mother had a disability and couldn't do this herself.

Anway, the main reason my DSs finally did as Granny said was the ruling by me that they wouldn't have the particularly nice football boots there were after until they could tie their own laces. Worked both times.

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