The following blog entry was written by Heather Saxena, See Kai Run distributor for Australia and New Zealand. (The post has been edited for length.)
Buying new shoes may seem a fun task, but it can lead to tears — and not just for children. So what makes a usually co-operative toddler scream and kick out when those first shoes head towards their little feet?
After fitting hundreds of babies and toddler for their first shoes, we’ve found three common reasons:
- Hunger. Trying to squeeze in new shoes just before lunch or when a child is hungry nearly always ends in a meltdown of epic proportions.
- Tiredness: Trying to rush in for new shoes just before nap-time, after a big outing or after an unsettled night usually ends in tears for all concerned. Similarly, going shoe shopping at 4.30 pm, when the child is ready to wind down after a busy day, doesn’t always end in happy child and parent walking out with new shoes.
- Routine: Children thrive on the familiar. Even if you don’t follow a strict routine in your household, every family has patterns your child relies on as a reassurance all is right with their world.
So, these are our tips for taking some of the stress out of shoe shopping. [We won’t say all the stress — we are dealing with very little children after all.]
These tips also work well for children coming back for new shoes. Children are creatures are habit and shoes become part of their routine. It’s not unusual for a child to object vigorously when their shoes are taken off and a new pair put on their feet. Parents are often worried they don’t like the style or fit of the new shoes — but usually the child is upset because a familiar part of their routine has been taken away. The new shoes soon become routine and, when the time comes, are subject to the same sad farewell! Preparing your child for a change in shoes is equally as important as preparing them for first shoes.
- Plan a time when your child is well fed and rested. If they are feeling off color or not their usual, perky self, postpone until they are back to normal.
- Talk about the upcoming trip to the shoe shop for several days beforehand. Put a positive spin on it: “We’re buying new shoes so we can go and have lots of fun at the park. We need shoes if we are going to play at the park.”
- Avoid food or toy bribery. Even with the best-laid plans, it can take a second trip to the shoe shop before you purchase those first pair of shoes or next-size-up shoes. If they get the promised treat after the first trip, despite not trying on the shoes, it doesn’t take long for them to work out they can get milk a few treats out of this shoe business.
- Explain what is going to happen when they come into the shop. A fourteen-month may not be able to speak in full sentences but they understand a lot more than we think. Let the shoe-fitter talk directly to your child so they can establish trust and a rapport.
- Allow plenty of time. It can take 45 minutes or more to measure, fit and try a few pairs of shoes before narrowing down the pair that fits best and you like.
- Toddlers will usually allow you to try on 2-4 pairs of shoes, but after that they’ve reached their limit. If you have narrowed down the styles, resist the urge to try on all the available colors otherwise you will have a very cranky toddler on your hands.
- Resist the temptation to ask your toddler which pair they want. They usually find the choice over-whelming and their care factor is usually zero — once the shoe fitting is over they just want to have a little play with the toys, or explore the shop.