Do you have difficulty keeping your children in footwear? Research shows that you can actually do them a favor by taking off their shoes and socks and leaving them barefoot, permanently! Also known as grounding, allowing children to live a barefoot life has been shown to have many comforts and health benefits. These include natural foot development, properly aligned toes, improved gait and posture, superior balance and proprioception. In Podiatric Journal studies on foot health, people who habitually grow up barefoot have been found to have significantly healthier feet than those who are used to wearing shoes. This is especially true for young children, as all 26 bones in their feet are not yet formed and are easily deformed by stiff, pointed shoes and tight-fitting socks. Studies show that virtually all foot-related problems are caused by modern footwear, and that these problems do not occur in barefoot populations. By following these steps, you can easily transition your kids to a completely barefoot lifestyle.
Step 1. Encourage the child to go barefoot at home as often as possible
Make the house a shoe-free zone; taking off your shoes and socks at the door should become a standard routine. This has the added benefit of keeping floors clean.
Step 2. Let your kids play in the front and back yard without shoes
After about two weeks, they should be able to play in the neighborhood and visit their friends' houses barefoot without a problem.
- It is easier for children to get used to going barefoot when they learn to walk. Relying on booties and walkers has been found to be detrimental to young children learning to move independently. In most cases, going barefoot should be part of your normal routine both indoors and outdoors, and shoes should not be treated differently than a coat or gloves.
- Most children accustomed to wearing shoes will initially run by hitting the heel of the ground first because they are used to wearing stiff, cushioned shoes that slope down toward the toe. A couple of weeks of running barefoot will correct their gait and encourage them to land properly on the forefoot and toes.
- For cleaning, keeping a bucket of soapy water and a towel by the door is enough to keep your interior spotless. A packet of disposable wipes by the door also makes entries conveniently quick. You will find that bare feet are extremely resistant to dirt and carry far less debris outdoors than shoes!
Step 3. Start taking them on excursions to areas suitable for walking barefoot, such as the park and the beach
- After three weeks, you can take them on family hikes. There are many trails in Germany and Switzerland for the express purpose of walking barefoot. Carry a pair of thongs (sandals) in your backpack for them in case they are going over rough terrain would be a prudent measure. Look for nature trails in woods and meadows, and avoid gravel roads.
- Venture into other areas after four weeks. At this stage, your child's feet will be strong enough for optimal performance on most surfaces, and you can start taking them on field trips to the store and library. Contrary to many public conceptions, there are no legal health regulations that prohibit clients from walking barefoot.
- Regardless of the signs of "No shirt, no shoes, no service", it has been observed that most people do not have a negative response to barefoot children. If it becomes a problem, bringing an extra pair of sandals wouldn't hurt.
Step 4. Enjoy going barefoot
If you study at home and / or live in a warm and clean climate, it is safe to donate the remaining pairs of shoes and socks at the end of a month.
A good indicator of whether it is too cold for bare feet is the need for gloves. If your kids don't need gloves, they probably don't need shoes. In areas with an average temperature of 60 ° F or 15 ° C in winter, it is perfectly safe for children to go barefoot at all times.
- Stopping at a grassy park and donating your kids' shoes is a great way to take the final step before going barefoot full time. Tell your kids to go around the house to collect all their shoes and socks and then wrap them in shopping bags before putting them in the car. They can wear their newest pair of shoes on the road, but once you get there ask them if they want to keep them. Make sure to tell your child that once they donate their shoes, there is no way to get them back from the container. If the child gives permission, seat him on top of the donation container and remove his shoes.
Repeat the question with his socks and, if he gives you permission, take them off and donate them along with the others. After this, you can reward your child with little nibbles on his feet for donating all his shoes and socks to charity, then allow him to play in the park before taking him home barefoot.
Step 5. Check your children's feet before putting them to bed
- A bubble bath followed by a foot inspection and massage after a day of barefoot play relaxes children and helps them sleep better.
- Playing "This Little Pig", "Five Pumpkins" and "Hungry, Hungry Wolf" will make most of the kids anticipate their nightly checkup and reward them for going barefoot. Studies show that parents who display dimorphic expression in play have closer relationships with their children. The transition to a full-time barefoot lifestyle should be fun for them!