To Boot or Not to Boot

Tips for Handling Finicky Feet
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Forget the hand-me-downs. I'm a huge fan of hand-me-downs, but not when it comes to footwear. Doctors discourage the practice because shoes conform to the shape of their wearer, and kids' feet differ. What suits one child's feet is apt to irritate another's.

Before you hit the hiking trail, take a look at your child's toenails. If they're too long, they'll dig into his or her shoe during downhill walks, causing discomfort. Trim those nails, and you'll cut out the painful whines before they start.

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"I Won't Wear Those!"

Perhaps your child is like my twin girls, who like nothing better than a new pair of shoes. If that's the case, outfitting your child with hiking boots will be a breeze.

But then there are children like my son, who can be reluctant, if not outright rebellious, at the thought of putting anything new on his feet.

How will you ever get them to wear the right thing?

  • Let them help choose their own boots. You'll have to have the final word on what's the wise purchase, of course, but if they like the choice, they're more likely to wear them.
  • Remember that high-top hiking boots may feel strange, if not uncomfortable, to your child at first. Reassure him or her that the shoe might take some getting used to. Have some trial runs at home. Any type of footwear needs to be broken in before the first hike, so choose a time when there's no pressure and not much going on to have your child break his new shoes in. This way, if there are any meltdowns or showdowns, you can have them with as little interference and outside pressure as possible. Relax, and convince your child to try out those shoes.
  • Try some creative bribing. Make them understand that they can't join you in outdoor adventures without the right footwear. Consider offering a little treat (yes, bribe) for cooperation. Perhaps once the hiking shoe or boot is on and being broken in, your little hiker can be rewarded with a special hiking snack.
  • If all else fails, become as immovable as a mountain. Teach them the meaning of the word mandatory. My friend uses a great line with her son:"Excuse me, but are you under the mistaken impression that you're dealing with an option here?"

Of course, be careful what you threaten. Your ultimate goal is for family hikes to be fun and safe. That means no arguments, but proper footwear.

Good luck!


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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