Your 5-year-old now
By the age of 5, most children have the dexterity to learn how to tie shoes, though some may not master the task until 6. Yes, lace-up shoes will be more frustrating and time-consuming than Velcro for a while, but what's the alternative? Slip-ons for the rest of his life?
Break the process down into steps. Make sure you and your partner both choose the same way of tying and stick to it, to reduce confusion. (Use the same language, too, whether it's starting with "two bunny ears" or "one loop".
To practice lacing, which you might prefer to teach separately from tying, try using an adult shoe, which will be easier for a child to handle. Even a piece of cardboard with laces pushed through will work.
If your child's a visual learner, have him sit next to you so that he can copy your movements. The one exception: If you're right-handed and trying to teach your left-handed child, sit opposite him so he can mirror what you do.
Other kids learn by doing. If this is your child, have him hold your hands while you tie. Be patient — and remember that this isn't something most kids learn in one sitting or one day.
Your life now
As your child's horizons get bigger and you come into contact with more and more of his peers (or have younger children of your own), take care to avoid the comparison trap. Though you may not mean to be destructive, that's what comments like "I wish you would comb your hair as well as Mikki" or "Why can't you listen as well as your brother?" feel like to the child who falls short.
Even positive comparisons can be damaging. If your child hears, "You are so much smarter than anyone in your class," he may feel it's impossible to always live up to this image. Better to limit your comments to your individual child's specific deeds: "You were very helpful to your sister today."
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