Is your child learning to write?

Learn the importance of the Proper Pincer Grip and how our Dexterity Tweezers can aid in the development of these hand muscles.

The “pincer grip” is a common term among elementary school educators, therapists, and doctors. Simply put, the pincer grip is the grasp used by the index finger and thumb to pinch a shoe lace, a cereal puff, or a pencil.

There are typically three different grip styles children use as they develop fine motor skills:
1. Fist grip. Children younger than one year old typically reach for and hold items with their entire fist. When using a pencil or crayon, a young child will hold the item in their closed fist with their pinky closest to the paper and thumb on top.
2. Four-finger grip. As children gain fine motor control, they typically progress from using a fist grip to a four-fingered grip. With a four-fingered grip, a child uses all four fingers together to hold an object against his thumb. This grip gives a child greater control when holding small items (or self-feeding), but it is still clumsy and inefficient.
3. Pincer grip. Once children develop strong fine motor skills, a true pincer grip emerges. With this grip, a child uses only his thumb and index finger to hold and manipulate small objects. With a pincer grip, a child can easily twist dials, turn the pages of a book, open and close a zipper, and use crayons or pencils with precision.

The correct pencil grip involves holding the pencil between the thumb and pointer finger, and resting the pencil on the middle finger for added stability. Since a child’s natural inclination is to hold a pencil with his entire fist (pinky finger closest to the paper and index finger and thumb on top), the proper pencil grip must be actively taught.

Since writing comfortably is a skill your child will use throughout his lifetime, it is wise to help your child develop a comfortable and efficient pencil grip when he is young. Also, it is much easier to learn to hold a pencil correctly at the start than it is to unlearn an improper pencil grip and retrain muscles to learn the proper grip once your child is older.

Tips and Tricks for Teaching Your Child the Proper Pencil Grip

Put down the regular sized pencil and grab a golf pencil. Golf pencils are typically half the length of standard pencils and, as an added convenience for parents, come pre-sharpened. Since they are smaller and lighter than the average pencil, they are the perfectly sized writing utensil for all children under the age of six or seven.
Demonstrate the proper pencil grip for your child before handing him the pencil. As you do, say aloud where you are placing your fingers. Show him how you are able to easily control the pencil with that grip.
Place the pencil into your child’s hand and position his fingers correctly. Start by having him pinch the pencil with his thumb and index finger approximately half an inch above the sharpened point. Once he can support the weight of the pencil with those two fingers, direct him to “rest” the pencil on his middle finger for added support and control.
Once your child is holding the pencil with the correct grip, direct him to rest the side of his hand closest to his pinky on the paper. Show him how to use his non-dominant hand to stabilize the paper so it remains steady as his dominant hand does most of the work.

Tips and Tricks If Your Child Struggles with the Proper Pincer Grip

It takes time and practice for children to strengthen the muscles used in the pincer grip. If your child has difficulty mastering the pincer grip, consider these few steps:
Demonstrate the proper pincer grip for your child, using only your thumb and pointer finger to pick up small objects. Exaggerate your movements so your thumb and pointer finger open as wide as possible before closing on the small object. Also, keep your three remaining fingers (middle finger, ring finger and pinky finger) tight against your palm, so only your thumb and pointer finger are doing the work.
Serve finger food either as a meal or a snack. Ask your child to pick up the small pieces of food with his fingers (even though he may be fully capable of using a fork or spoon). There is really only one way to pick up grapes one at a time without a fork, so if you ask your child to pick up one grape at a time, you are guaranteed to get the proper pincer grip.
Direct your child to paint on a vertical surface, such as an easel. (Consider taping a large piece of paper to a door if an easel is not available.) Holding the paint brush up to a vertical surface will force your child to flex his hand back at the wrist. This motion automatically puts the forefinger and thumb into position for the pincer grip.Visit our website to purchase our Dexterity Tweezers which are perfect for pincer grip development with specially designed finger and thumb placement depressions to facilitate proper pincer-grasp. Activity guide included.