Skills Test

These are Mayhem’s shoes


or rather they were Mayhem’s shoes.

As you can see they are unwearable


Cheap or pricy, all of Mayhem’s shoes blow out the same way. The little tab of sole that wraps up over the front of the toes gets ripped down and takes the sole with it eventually.

Please note these are velcro shoes.

All velcro shoes available around here have this sole design; one that catches easily on playground tarmac & field dirt & gets dragged on the ground on swings & bikes. The kind of shoes that have a sole edge that wraps around the shoes only come in tie style shoes.

Like these


Mayhem’s new shoes.

But there is a problem.

Mayhem, at age 9, cannot tie his shoes.

Mayhem has issues with fine motor skills. It’s why his handwriting is atrocious & why there is always a huge mess around his plate after using silverware.

Oh the issues aren’t that bad – not bad enough to require outside intervention, though I have tried. The tests always come back with him just inside ‘normal’ range, so no IEP & no help. Though his teachers are good about letting him write out his answers on an ipad, just like two other kids who do have an IEP, so his school work isn’t suffering.

But he can’t tie his shoes and that isn’t the school’s problem, it’s ours.

Here is the thing about Mayhem – if he can’t do it perfectly on the first attempt it’s hopeless and he’ll never do it right ever; BUT! if he can do it once, then he has mastered it and never has to do it again.

It makes it very hard to teach him some things, especially things that involve fine motor skills, like tying shoes.

This is the reaction we end up with 98% of the time.



We’ve tried 3 different tying methods. All 3 of us (including Havoc) have taken turns trying to show Mayhem how to tie his shoes. I’ve stooped to threats, telling him he has to learn to tie his shoes because if he thinks I am coming to all his college football games & tying his cleats for him he better start thinking again right now.


Basically he can’t hold a loop of lace in one hand and work the other lace around it. He also can’t hold two loops of lace & cross them over and pull one through to tie them. Nor can he work the ‘magic fingers’ version because it involves opening his fingers & grasping the lace around one finger at the same time as another.

His fingers just don’t want to work that way.


Havoc had a frustrating time learning too, which is why I can now tie shoes 3 different ways. The double loop method worked best for Havoc. DH had never seen it before so he was confused when Havoc showed him.

It took me a dozen tries to figure out the magic fingers one and I too was “DOING EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAID!!” and couldn’t make the knot work.


So I understand the frustration with seeing it and not understanding it, even with photos, & step by step instructions & a youtube video. There was a point I just wasn’t getting. I even succeeded twice before I realized how I was doing it.

But we are now on day 6 of the “shoe tying lesson” and we still have about a 50% success rate with Mayhem.


It’s a problem we often forget. He just has bad handwriting & is a messy eater. But then we encounter this and remember it’s an actual issue. Not just him being lazy or not trying to be neat. He genuinely has a problem with his fine motor skills. His fingers really can’t work the way he wants them too without far more effort than most people have to make.

But we are getting there.


It just takes more time than we expect.

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9 comments to Skills Test

  • Chipper

    I also have a son like this. The Ocupational Therapist also put him just inside the ‘normal’ range. He found stiffer laces easier to grasp. We had some that came with a pair of shoes that had metallic thread in them. I don’t know if it was the texture his fingers found easier or that they were stiffer. But he did find he was able to get them tied and keep them tied longer. Or you could try the elastic type of laces. They also have a more grip-able texture.

    • Stacey

      Thanks for the idea. I might see if I can find some of the stiffer wax rolled laces for him to try

  • Chipper

    I also meant to say well done on your success after only 6 days. It took us nearly four months for him to get it. There were times when we all had to just take a break or we may not have ever made it!

  • I’m another congratulating you all for persevering and getting so far. Hope you find a way to help him learn more stuff as he needs to.

  • I know what my DH would say..he needs to find a smart girl to do it for him. That’s what he used to do. Not a long term answer, I know :) Keep up the good work

  • Rinda

    Ah, the football incentive! Glad you found some way to keep him practicing. And good for him for keeping at it.

  • Oh, my heart aches for him. Hopefully he’ll see the success rate increase then ban it’ll be second nature. When mine were young there were laces made that curled, no tying required, not a lifetime solution but a stress reducer. Good luck!

  • DD is 9 and can just manage to tie her laces, although she is not too good and they inevitably come undone and I have to redo them. She also has a pair of Converse ‘no time to lace’ boots (with a stars and stripes pattern as it happens). They look like normal converse i.e. the sole you are looking for and the ‘laces’ are actually elastic. They fasten with velcro behind the heel. It may be worth you tracking down a pair so that he doesn’t face a battle every time he has to put on shoes. But well done to him and you for persevering.

  • Well done to Havoc for sticking with it, and to you too! We still have that landmark to come.