or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › The Childhood Years › 3 year old still holding a pen with a fist grip. Normal?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

3 year old still holding a pen with a fist grip. Normal?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

DD is 3 years & 4 months old. She's good at drawing (draws recognisable figures with a fair amount of detail) and is on the verge of being able to right her name (all three letters of it winky.gif).

 

The only thing is that she still holds her pen with a fist grip. Is that typical at this age? Is there any reason to be trying to gently correct it, or should I just leave it alone?

 

Just wondering. smile.gif

post #2 of 17
Mine just started using a "correct" grip at nearly 3 1/2. I had been encouraging her to move her fist closer to the tip of the pen to get better control, but hadn't told her to hold it differently. Though when I saw her beginning to hold it the right way, I pointed it out and praised it right away, and now she does it a lot. It was amazing to see the change in her writing/art immediately!

I don't know what's considered "normal."
post #3 of 17

This is probably not going to help you at all, but...My 5.5 yo holds her pencil in a way very similar to the overhand grip used in sketching.  Not the same as how your DD holds her pencil, but still technically "incorrect" for day-to-day pencil use.  She has amazing control holding the pencil that way, though.  She starts Kindy next year, so I'm a little nervous about it.  She didn't go to preschool this year (we moved and couldn't find/afford a school in time), but was in preschool the previous year.  The teachers there (a Montessori school) were in awe of her artistic skill and told me that they did not want to correct her grip because she had found a way to hold a pencil that works for her, and they didn't want to interfere with her creativity.  She was about 3.5-4yo at the time and I found that decision entirely appropriate.  It can be really frustrating to have a pencil grip corrected.  But now I think it will be even more frustrating for her to have it corrected this late.  Ah, see, not helpful, huh?  I guess I wouldn't worry about it at 3yo, but would try and correct it sometime before Kindergarten.

post #4 of 17

Is the fist grip with the little finger closest to the pencil tip, or with the index finger closest to the pencil tip? How are her fine motor skills otherwise (e.g. can she pick up small objects using just the pad of the index finger and thumb, can she string beads, etc.)?

post #5 of 17

Very normal at this age. If she hits 5 and is still doing it, then you can 'worry'.

 

A good way to teach her to use the correct grip is to get really short pencils/crayons. You can't use a fist grip on something short. So, golf pencils or shorter are great for that. (A tip that I got from a former preschool teacher.)

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mysweetboys View Post

Is the fist grip with the little finger closest to the pencil tip, or with the index finger closest to the pencil tip? How are her fine motor skills otherwise (e.g. can she pick up small objects using just the pad of the index finger and thumb, can she string beads, etc.)?


 

Little finger closest to the pencil tip.

 

Yes, she can pick up little things with a pincer grip and string even small beads with no problems. Her fine motor skills are excellent in general (according to her preschool teacher - I have no idea what's normal, so I'll take her word for it!).

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

Very normal at this age. If she hits 5 and is still doing it, then you can 'worry'.

 

A good way to teach her to use the correct grip is to get really short pencils/crayons. You can't use a fist grip on something short. So, golf pencils or shorter are great for that. (A tip that I got from a former preschool teacher.)


That's an excellent tip, never would of thought of that. Thanks!

 

post #8 of 17
My soon to be 4 yr old is still fisting and I am worried about it. He has problems with fine motor though so we work on other skills to help develop them.
post #9 of 17

My 6yo didn't start correcting her grip until well beyond 5, and she actively resisted the (gentle, i never pushed it) instruction I gave from time to time.  Finally, she experimented with a better grip when she wanted to start copying fish names from a book and found that she had less control.

     I absolutely would not worry.  Ever.  But then, we homeschool and have the luxury of being able to overlook things that will likely go away on their own.

 

     Stockmar sells brilliantly colored beeswax block crayons (often called "Waldorf" crayons).  There is no possible way to use a fist grip on these crayons.  You could try breaking crayolas in half, or give her pencil nubs every now again, and that might help.  I would not make an issue of this, especially at 3 1/2.

post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mysweetboys View Post

Is the fist grip with the little finger closest to the pencil tip, or with the index finger closest to the pencil tip? How are her fine motor skills otherwise (e.g. can she pick up small objects using just the pad of the index finger and thumb, can she string beads, etc.)?



It's holding it like you would to stab a knife: thumb up, point down. Fist Grip.JPG

 

Bug (~5 yo) still does this. He has been tested as being "slow" to develop both gross and fine motor skills. It's nothing serious, so long as he keeps improving (and he does). With him, it's because he had eye problems from birth, including two eye surgeries.

post #11 of 17

Great question, I am interested in this as well. My DD is 4.5yo, and has been in junior kindergarten since September. She still does the fist grip, despite gentle demonstrations by her teacher and us at home. She's pretty strong-willed, and her mantra with everything seems to be "I do it the way I like to do it". 

 

I'm wondering though:

Is this truly harmful? I'll have to read up on it since I know almost nothing on the topic, but why is it a concern? Is there really one "right" way to write? And is the exact mastery of this skill so crucial now and in the future where handwriting is becoming more and more scarce (dare I say obsolete?!)? I just wonder, that's all...and perhaps I'm totally clueless, in which case, please enlighten me.  

post #12 of 17

DH and I got grilled on this during YDS's preK testing in April.  They were so shocked that he held the pencil with his fist.  ???  I bought him a couple of pencil grippers and he learned quickly how to change this grip to the "right" way.  It still irritates me that I let them get to me like they did.  He still can't write his letters though, but he does know all of them and their sounds so whatever.

post #13 of 17

We have shorty lyra ferby pencils which have an excellent shape for small hands (and a cute little holder from Nova). I really believe these helped improve my LO's grip. Short. Sturdy. Don't break. Good color. I also noticed an improvment when we switched to better crayons. (sticks, stockmar)  Our crayolas kept snappy and he would counter this by gripping even harder. The stockmar never break and because he no longer feared breakage, his grip got lighter.  We also got him a good quality lyra pencil as his "special pencil"

 

Neither of my kids really liked the stockmar block crayons but I think the different shape idea might be a good one. Also, crayon rocks might be do the same thing.

post #14 of 17

Typically the fisted grip with the little finger closest to the tip (palmar supinate grasp) is outgrown before 3 years of age unless the child has other motor difficulties. This grip requires larger movements of the arm and wrist to control the pencil, which can later on impact on development of printing skills. It sounds like the OP's child has good fine motor skills and drawing skill though, so it is likely not a big concern unless perhaps shoulder or hand stability or strength is a contributing factor. The short pencils, broken crayons, rock crayons, short pieces of chalk are great because they will help to transition her toward a more mature grasp pattern without making it an issue.

 

There is no "right way" to hold a pencil, but there certainly are some pencil grasp patterns that decrease pencil control and increase pain and fatigue. The longer a child uses these less functional grasp patterns the harder it is to change. Even with the increased technology use, our kids will generally still need to be able to write or print legibly without pain if they are attending school.

post #15 of 17

     I know one of the reasons DD6 continued to use a fist grip until very late was that her hand got tired quickly.  You could see this in her early writing: thin, light, wobbly and weak.  She was very resistant, so i didn't push.  Eventually, her writing got stronger and stronger.  She resisted partly because she is something of a perfectionist, waiting to do something until she feels a certain level of confidence and competence that sometimes comes simply with the passing of a few months.  Schools and preschools can make this into a development issue, which it is admittedly, but it's not inherently a PROBLEM outside of the needs of a school.  

post #16 of 17

I taught my son the correct grip when he was 2.5ish, as soon as he could write.  I think the longer they go using the fist grip, the harder it is for them un-learn it.  And even if the fist grip is okay for drawing shapes and coloring, your dd will need the correct grip when she's in school and starting to write letters which needs more precision than the fist grip allows.  Here's a great article on teaching children the proper pencil grip and then here's a link to the letter tracing worksheets and tracing lines worksheets I used with my son to help him practice.  Once he got the hang of it, he loved the regular pencil grip.  Hope these help! 

post #17 of 17

As an occupational therapist, I'd like to respond to those who wonder why the "correct" pencil grasp is important.

 

First, why do kids use funny grasps?  The grasp they use is primarily an indicator of the maturity of the hand in its development.  Many children are introduced to using pencils and crayons before the hand is mature enough, and form permanent habits of a poor grasp.  I think it very important not to introduce kids to printing letters until the hand is mature (age 6-7 in America).  Doing other fine motor tasks that develop the ability to use a variety of grasp patterns with the fingers, and fine manipulative skills is the key to developing the hand. 

 

Why is the correct grasp important?  The problem with maladaptive grasps is that while they serve to give the child a sense of control over the pencil at a young age, these patterns become habit from practice (practice makes permanent! to quote a famous OT, Mary Benbow), and ultimately slow them down later.  The hand is a precision built machine, and its most efficient patterns of movement are the ones we consider "normal" - in these movement patterns, all the joints and tendons and muscles are alligned, so that the hand will work efficiently.  Without this the hand fatigues, gets cramps, and the child does not develop speed in their writing, required for later school tasks.  In addition, poor grasp patterns may lead to damage to joints and ligaments, contributing to deformity ultimately. 

 

Better to wait for maturity of the hand before introducing pencils, than to try to rush development of skills beyond that readiness. 

 

The suggestion about small pencils is a good one for 5 year olds - I like using crayon stubs even.  The other key is to have the paper well onto the table, rather than lined up on the edge.  This way the child can rest the arm on the table, and just use the hand and fingers to control the pencil.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: The Childhood Years
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › The Childhood Years › 3 year old still holding a pen with a fist grip. Normal?