top of page
  • Writer's pictureAnnika Brindley

"Understanding the Toddler Shoe Battle: Tips for Getting Your Little One to Wear Their Shoes"

Welcome to the intriguing world of toddler development, where each day is a journey of discovery and growth!

Today, we delve into a topic likely to resonate with many of you- the challenge of getting your little ones to wear their shoes. 

As toddlers, children are not just learning to walk and talk but also beginning to assert their independence in various ways. This stage is crucial for building their sense of self and autonomy as they start making choices and expressing preferences more clearly. 

One of the most fascinating ways toddlers assert their independence is through their resistance to wearing shoes. It's a scenario that many parents find themselves in, a common yet challenging part of the toddler journey. 

In this blog, we'll explore the reasons behind toddlers' resistance to wearing shoes. I provide practical strategies for turning this daily struggle into a more enjoyable experience for both you and your child. From understanding their need for control to creating a consistent routine, we've got you covered.

Unlocking the mystery of why toddlers resist putting on their shoes:

Seeking Control: Toddlers are at a pivotal stage in their development, beginning to explore and assert their own will and preferences. This exploration is a healthy part of becoming independent, thinking individuals. When it comes to wearing shoes, toddlers might see this as an opportunity to decide independently. Whether it's a flat refusal or a preference for one pair over another, these moments are when toddlers test their boundaries and express their growing autonomy.

Discomfort: Sometimes, toddlers' refusal to wear shoes stems from fundamental comfort issues. They might not have the words to express that a shoe pinches, feels too stiff, or rubs their heels incorrectly. 

Distraction and Prioritization: For a toddler, the world is a vivid tapestry of wonders, and putting on shoes can seem like an unnecessary interruption to more exciting activities. Whether absorbed in play, fascinated by a bug on the ground, or eager to explore a new toy, toddlers live in the moment and prioritize what captures their attention right then and there. Putting on shoes doesn't hold their interest in the face of more engaging activities.

Lack of Routine: Consistency is key in a toddler's life. Regular routines provide a sense of security and help them understand what to expect next, which can significantly reduce resistance to everyday tasks. If putting on shoes is not consistently integrated into their daily routine—perhaps only happening when leaving the house—it can become a point of contention. Establishing a consistent routine where shoes are put on at the same time or in sequence each day can help toddlers accept this as just another part of their day.

Getting a toddler to put on their shoes can often feel daunting, but with some creative strategies and patience, it can become a smoother, more enjoyable process for you and your child.

Here are some practical tips to help ease the shoe-wearing battles:

Offer Choices: Toddlers love feeling in control. Offer them a choice between two pairs of shoes. By letting them choose, you empower them, and they feel more involved in the process. Make sure both options are acceptable to you—this way, no matter which pair they pick, it's a win-win situation.

Make it Fun: Turn shoe time into a game or a playful activity. You could sing a particular song about putting on shoes or create a little story where the shoes are magical items that empower them to go on adventures; this can make the process more appealing and something they look forward to.

Use Positive Reinforcement: Celebrate when they successfully put their shoes on. Clap, cheer, or even do a little "shoe dance" to show how pleased you are. Positive reinforcement can significantly impact them, encouraging them to repeat the behavior.

Create a Routine: Consistency is key in toddlerhood. Try to incorporate shoe-wearing into your daily routine at the same time and in the same way each day. Whether before leaving the house or as part of getting dressed in the morning, a consistent routine eliminates confusion and helps your toddler know what to expect.

Lead by Example: Toddlers often like to mimic their parents. If they see you putting on your shoes every time you go out, they might be more inclined to do the same. You can even make a show of it. Show your toddler how you choose your shoes and put them on to model the behavior you want to see.

Things to think about in advance before delving into your new toddler shoe project:

Leave extra time: Give yourself more time than you think you need to put your toddler's shoes on in the morning. It can help reduce stress and create a more peaceful start to the day for several reasons:

Unexpected Delays: Toddlers are unpredictable. Some mornings, they might be cooperative; other mornings, they might resist every step of getting ready. The extra time allows for these fluctuations in mood and cooperation without throwing off the rest of your morning schedule.

Learning Opportunity: Putting on shoes is not just a chore; it's a learning opportunity for toddlers. They are developing fine motor skills and learning to solve problems (like figuring out which shoe goes on which foot). Rushing this process can deprive them of the chance to learn at their own pace.

Reduces Frustration: Rushing to put on shoes will likely frustrate both you and your toddler. This frustration can lead to a power struggle and even a meltdown, delaying things further. Allowing more time helps keep the atmosphere calm and positive.

Encourages Independence: Giving toddlers extra time means they can try putting their shoes on alone; this promotes independence and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It might be quicker to do it for them, but encouraging their independence is beneficial for their development.

Quality Time: Those extra minutes can become a special part of your routine, providing bonding opportunities. You can use this time to talk, sing, or play a little game while putting shoes on, making it a more enjoyable experience for both of you.

Prepare for the day Ahead: Starting the Day rushed can carry over to other activities and obligations. By leaving extra time for tasks like putting on shoes, you help ensure that you and your toddler feel more prepared and less hurried as you head out the door. Building in this buffer time makes your morning less stressful and more enjoyable, setting a positive tone for the day ahead.

Implementing these strategies can help transform the shoe-wearing process from a chore into a positive part of the day for you and your toddler!

By understanding these factors, parents can better navigate shoe-wearing challenges and help their toddlers grow through this phase with less frustration and more cooperation.

If you are still struggling with getting your toddler dressed, reach out and book a complimentary Parent Coaching chat with me!


bottom of page