I have been contacted by several families who struggle every single time they have to put kids’ shoes on. The first reaction children have is pulling their shoes off and refusing to put them back on again.
Some children find it very hard to express what the problem is with each pair of shoes, and their actual phrase is: “They just don’t feel right”.
It’s very hard to treat a problem when we don’t know what the actual problem is.
You might be asking yourself: What could possibly be wrong with my child’s shoes that he/she refuse to keep them on?
There could be a myriad of reasons of why your children keep taking their shoes off, but I have put together the 3 most common ones:
✅ The shoes feel too tight: On average, 40% of the children that I have helped stated the shoes feeling too tight as the main reason why they refused to keep the shoes on.
✅ The shoes feel too loose: On average, 40% of the children that I have helped stated the shoes feeling too loose as the main reason why they refused to keep the shoes on.
✅ The shoes keep slipping off: On average, 20% of the children that I have helped stated the heels moving up and down as the main reason why they refused to keep the shoes on.
I will describe how to overcome each situation in more detail shortly.
Please keep in mind that when children have an unusual aversion to shoes and socks it might be related to sensory processing issues.
Have you tried hundreds of different shoe styles for your child but you always end up empty handed?
Some parents describe how traumatic it is every time they need to go anywhere and it’s time to put the shoes on. Now that school started, I have been contacted by several families who explained me how awful it is to get their child through the door of the classroom with shoes.
I know what you are going through, and I want you to know that you are in good hands since I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store for the last 10 years. This experience has afforded me many insights into children’s shoes and the way they fit. Our store specializes in children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fittings as well. I have fitted hundreds of different shoe styles, and I know which shoe brands and which shoe styles among those brands are better for children who refuse to keep their shoes on.
I will help you find the correct pair of shoes for your child, but in order for me to do that we need to identify what part of the shoe is bothering your child’s feet. We can achieve this, but I am going to need you to be patient. Trust me, your child is complaining for a reason.
Finding What’s Wrong with Your Kids’ Shoes – First Things First!
Before we try to figure out what’s wrong with your kids’ shoes, I want to first make sure that the socks are not being a contributing cause to your child’s discomfort. Socks play a key role in keeping your child’s feet healthy, since they act as a barrier between your kids’ feet and the shoes. However, socks that are too short can cramp your kids’ toes and create discomfort. On the other hand, socks that are too long can bunch up below your kids’ feet and also create discomfort. Your kids’ socks must fit just right!
In addition to making sure your kids’ socks are the correct size, I recommend finding a pair of socks that are 100% seamless. Some children can’t stand how seams feel, so it’s important to find a pair of socks that are seamless as well.
Does your child like to wear socks that feel really tight around his/her feet? I have noticed this pattern among most children with sensory processing issues.
While I can’t get into too much detail about the importance of wearing the correct type of socks in this article, you should take a look at another article I wrote that describes how to make sure you provide your child with the correct sock size and which are the best seamless socks for kids. Go to the link below:
Now that we are sure that the socks are not a contributing factor to your child’s discomfort, let’s start figuring out where your child’s foot discomfort is coming from.
Where’s Your Child’s Discomfort Coming from? – Let’s Find Out!
Put your child’s shoes on and have your child point out at the area where the discomfort is coming from.
Depending on which area of the shoe your child points at, we can start addressing the issue. I am going to share with you which are the most common parts of the shoe that a child complains of and how to address it.
40% of Kids Complained that the Shoes Feel “Too Tight”
- On average, 40% of the children who I helped before refused to keep their shoes on because they complained that the shoes felt too tight. They will point out at the top part of the shoe, the heel area and the toe area.
The most common mistake that I see parents make is to provide their children with shoes that are too long in order for the child to stop complaining about the shoes feeling too tight, when they should actually be looking for shoes with extra depth, rounder toe-boxes, and wide or extra wide widths.
There are certain shoe styles that provide extra depth, meaning that your child’s feet will fit deeply inside the shoes, preventing the top part of their feet from rubbing against the top part of the shoes. It’s important for the shoes to also be available in different widths such as wide, and extra wide.
Let’s compare a shoe that provides extra depth versus one that doesn’t. For better visualization purposes, there is an orthotic fitted inside the shoes. Do you notice how much deeper the orthotic is fitting in the image below compared to the shoe on the second image?
There are also certain shoe styles that provide a rounder toe-box instead of a pointier one. Let’s visualize this in the two pictures below. These shoes are the same length and width, but they have very different toe-boxes.
I have put together a selection of the most effective shoes for children that complain that their shoes feel too tight. These shoes provide extra depth and are available in different widths such as wide and extra wide.
40% of Kids Complained that the Shoes Feel “Too Loose”
- On average, 40% of the children who I helped before refused to keep their shoes on because they complained that the shoes felt too loose, and no matter how tight they pulled on the Velcro strap or the shoelaces, the shoes still felt loose. Most children can’t cope with the feeling of a shoe moving too much around the heel area.
The most common mistake that I see parents make is to provide their children with shoes that are too short, when they should actually be looking for shoes that come with a pointier toe-box and a narrower heel counter. The heel counter is the back part of the shoes that provides ankle and heel support.
Let’s compare a shoe that comes with a narrow heel counter versus one that doesn’t. Do you notice how much narrower the heel counter of the shoe in the first image is compared to the shoe in the second image?
I have put together a selection of the most effective shoes for children that complain about their shoes feel too loose. These shoes come with a pointier toe-box and a narrow heel counter.
Please consider providing your child with a pair of shoes that come with shoelaces instead of an alternative closure, since shoelaces will hug your kids’ feet better and secure the ankles, preventing them from moving up and down.
There is actually a shoe tying method technique I found that is extremely effective in preventing the heels from moving up and down. I will expand on this shortly.
- On average, 20%of the children who I helped before refused to keep their shoes on because the shoes kept slipping off and felt too loose around the heel area.
If your child is complaining that the shoes feel too loose around the ankle area, you will have to make sure that you provide your child with shoes that come with a narrower heel counter, extra padding and extra cushion around the heels, since they are extremely effective in addressing this issue.
In this case I also recommend a pair of shoes that come with shoelaces instead of Velcro closure, and apply this particular shoe tying technique:
- Start by lacing your child’s shoes as you would normally do but leave the first top two holes (eyelets) of the shoes unlaced.
- Loop the lace through the top hole first as shown in the image below.
- Loop the lace through the hole that we left open and make sure you tie them properly.
This method will push your kids’ feet back, securing the heels against the back of the shoes and preventing them from moving up and down.
If there is another area of the shoe that your child is complaining about that I didn’t mention please contact me directly and I will guide you in what steps to take: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do You Know Your Child’s Exact Foot Size? – Let’s Find Out!
Providing your child with the correct shoe style is simply not enough, you will need to make sure that your child is wearing the correct shoe size as well.
I always recommend parents to take their children to a specialized children’s shoe store, where a shoe fitter can try different pair of shoes on your child’s feel until you find one that feels good.
If you don’t know whether you have a good fitting children’s shoe store in your area, start by taking a look at a map that I created where I describe the best fitting children’s shoe stores by state. Go to the link below:
There is also a simple, yet very effective method that you can use to figure out your child’s exact foot size from home. Go to the link below:
Finding a pair of shoes for children who refuse to keep their shoes on can be a very frustrating and time-consuming experience, especially if you don’t know what shoe styles to look for.
Please be patient until you find a pair of shoes that work. Remember that your child is complaining for a reason!
Have you found a particular shoe style that your child enjoys wearing? Please share your findings below so other parents can benefit from your experiences.