What keeps them in their shoes?
For too long children have been told by parents, doctors, teachers, camp counselors – everybody – to put on their shoes. If shoes are bad for adults, they are far worse for children because a child’s foot is still developing. Since a shoe is essentially a cast, wearing shoes during childhood hampers good foot development. We thought we were protecting our kids with shoes, but by keeping them in footwear we actually set them up for a lifetime of foot problems. Children should go barefoot as much as possible until at least the age of eight.
Here are some helpful tips to help keep your kids barefoot:
1. Play! Barefoot. Let your kids play barefoot as much as possible, both indoors and out. This includes parks, playgrounds and fort-building. (Note: If your kids play in the woods, be sure to wash-up after to prevent poison ivy!)
2. Barefoot-At-Home Rule. Remind your kids to kick off their shoes at home. Shoes are rarely needed in the yard and almost never needed in the house.
3. School Barefoot. If you home school you can spend all day barefoot (and in pajamas!). If your kids go to public or private school, talk to teachers and principles about allowing pupils to go barefoot. This will likely be an uphill battle in most school districts these days, but the more parents insist, the more schools will listen! Join with other like-minded parents; there is strength in numbers. Teachers, principals and school boards: Consider allowing children the option of going barefoot in your schools.
4. Shop Barefoot. Children – especially young children – can often “get away” with things adults can’t, like going around barefoot! Let your children go barefoot when you shop; it will be a joy for them and you won’t have to keep up with their shoes!
5. Visit the Parents for Barefoot Children website. This website is a great resource for parents who want to let their children go barefoot to develop healthy feet for life.