How to Teach a Child to Put Shoes on the Right Feet

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Raising kids tests our patience in the most mundane tasks, from teeth brushing to getting dressed.

If you’re stuck wondering how to teach a child to put shoes or their favourite wellies on the right feet, all you need might be a nudge to a creative solution, and we’ve got 10 of those!

Why It’s Important for Children to Be Independent

Some parents take the easy way out and sit down to put on their kids’ shoes for them. Sure, with enough repeatability, the kid will eventually get the hang of it.

But at what cost?

Over time, it seeds dependency in the child’s personality and puts an extra load on an already stressed parent.

That’s why it might be worthwhile to teach them things from the get-go.

Why Learning to Fail Is a Life Skill

A crucial part of positive parenting is letting your kids know that it’s okay to fail.

Without fear of failure, your child gets to experience more out of life, and the exposure builds their self-esteem.

It also shows them that in the big picture, failure means that they’re closer to figuring out the correct answer.

Teaching Children to Put Their Shoes on the Correct Feet

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the tips for shoe time:

Teach Them Left and Right

This is an essential lesson that they’ll have to nail down sooner or later. You might as well get started now.

Ask them to lay both their hands flat on a table. On the left hand, the index and thumb should look like an “L” for “left” from their perspective.

Set Them Out the Same Way for Them, Every Day

Children learn by finding patterns. So, set a fixed morning routine with the same shoe placement.

After a while, they’ll pick the right pair without giving it much thought. This works well for those rushed school mornings.

Show Them the Slight Curve at the Front

This one’s trickier since the inward curve isn’t always as obvious, but it might work for an older kid who’s more of a visual learner.

You can tell them that the big toe should go into the curve. If they pick up on the concept, they’re good to go.

Draw on the Bottom of the Side of the Shoe

Pick up the pair, and doodle half a shape on each side midsole with a fabric marker.

It could be a heart, a happy face, or even their initials. Anything goes as long as your kid can grasp the full picture when the two halves meet with the correct orientation.

Let Them Watch You Put Them on (From Your Angle)

Get your kid to stand behind you while you sit down to put on your own shoes. This gives them the correct perspective on the process.

This is both a step-by-step tutorial and a chance for one-on-one bonding.

Put Left/Right Arrow Stickers on the Shoes

Take a cute sticker, cut it in half and stick it on the external heel of each shoe. If you don’t have the artistic skills to pull off the half-doodle trick, this idea might be a good alternative.

However, the sticker tends to fall off after a while. So, check them regularly and have a replacement set on standby.

Stickers on the Inside of the Shoe

If you don’t want to ruin the shoe’s appearance with doodles and stickers, try laying the sticker on the inner sole under the heel so that it’s visible from the top.

This should be a very subtle but efficient reminder.

Let Them Practice Even if You’re Not Going Out

Kids learn better when time’s on their side. So, find free time to set down and try different methods without the pressure of running late.

Ideally, you can do these trial runs when you get a new pair of shoes, and the kid is excited to try it all by themselves.

Always Explain Again if They Get It Wrong

Teaching simple life skills to little kids can be frustrating, but no matter what you do, never lose your cool. It’ll only backfire.

Instead, be patient and willing to repeat things over and over again without making a big fuss about it.

Reward Them When They Get It Right

Celebrating the little wins helps reinforce good behaviour.

You don’t have to take them to the toy store every time they put on their shoes, but even a simple word of encouragement can cheer them up.


Figuring out how to teach a child to put shoes on the right feet can be a battle uphill, but with a touch of craftiness and patience, you can get it over with in no time.