By Pat Ross
It was near the end of August when Joanie had the meltdown. At the time, we were 10-year-old cousins in the midst of a back-to-school shopping trip. The day was hot, the excursion was seemingly endless and there were four of us kids with just one adult, my uncle. When Joanie saw the platform heels in the middle of the shoe section at the department store, she had to have them. They had red laces, thick, red soles, five-inch heels and red stripes on the white vinyl uppers. To tween eyes, they were the height of glamour and sophistication. I thought they were beautiful. As soon as my uncle said Joanie couldn’t have them, the waterworks and the wailing started. Had my aunt been around, my cousin would have been propelled into sneakers and out the door with the precision of long practice.
My uncle? He had a weak moment and a brain cramp. As we headed back to the station wagon, Joanie was beaming as she clutched her shoebox with the trendy platforms. Good thing she didn’t wear them; she might have broken a leg.
This is a popular time of year for family shopping trips. If you’re intending to purchase new footwear for your kids, be sure to take them with you, to proceed with caution, to set aside plenty of time and to set some rules. Those rules can encompass budget, versatility, practicality and safety.
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists recommends you stay clear of platforms, stilettos and flats. Both types of heels alter walking style and posture and increase the risk of falling or turning an ankle. On the other hand … er … foot, slipperlike flats (the ones you can bend in half) offer little support or protection from injury. Flats are very popular for young girls so if they’re a must-have item, look for ones with a sturdy sole and, ideally, a strap or buckle closure. Overall, fashion shoes can be damaging to both feet and posture, so it’s best if kids wear them for short periods of time.
Practicality matters too. The shiny gold high tops with the zigzag bottoms may be at the top, bottom and all through the middle of your son’s wish list, but if the outsoles mark the floor, he probably can’t wear them to school. In terms of foot health, youngsters’ shoes need to protect their feet, to provide comfort when they go-go-go and to offer support and grip so they don’t slide on the newly polished school floors.
The challenge is to find shoes that appeal to kids and that fit them properly. It often comes down to compromise. It doesn’t matter how sensible and well-made those loafers are if your preteen won’t wear them out of the house. To decrease the likelihood of tears or slamming bedroom doors, sit down together and spend a few minutes checking out the options online. Most retailers have websites. Talk about it and make a plan to head out shoe hunting. For a proper fit, your youngster should try on both shoes in each pair. It’s even better if her or his feet can be measured first, since kids’ feet grow, on average, one size per year.