Sometimes when we think of motor skills, we think of gross motor skills, which involve the larger muscle groups of the body.

Child's scissors use can be key to developing art skillsBut fine motor skills are so important for children to develop as well! They help with writing, holding utensils, picking small things up and child’s scissors use.

One useful fine motor skill children develop is the ability to cut with scissors! Using scissors is a common skill for young children to master, as they may need to use them in school and for crafts. But when will children be able to use scissors, and how can you keep them safe? Learn more!

When can children use scissors?

Even though they may seem simple to use, cutting with scissors is something that may take children a while to learn. It won’t be until around 3-4 years old that children may be able to start using small scissors. Some signs your child is ready to try using scissors are:

  • They have good balance while sitting
  • They have good hand and arm strength and control
  • They can understand simple instructions
  • They show interest in coloring and simple crafts

Is using scissors a milestone?

No, it isn’t a milestone, but it is something children should typically be able to do with small scissors by 3-4 years old. If your child is having trouble getting the hang of using scissors, talk to a healthcare provider, such as an occupational therapist, as they may have some tips to help with your child’s fine motor skills.

How can you choose the right scissors for your child?

To start, choose small, child-safe scissors. These child’s scissors should be the best fit for little hands, and should have dull edges to prevent any injuries.

It’s important to consider if your child is left-handed or right-handed. Scissors are designed differently depending on the dominant hand. Children will usually show a tendency to use one hand by 3 years old (it’s usually the hand they draw or feed themselves with).

Also, there are many types of spring-loaded scissors that are a great way to help your child get the motion of opening/closing the scissors. The spring assists the scissors in opening, which can be more challenging for children to coordinate when learning to use scissors.

How can you keep a child safe using scissors?

Child's scissors use is an important fine motor skill

Giving your child a pair of scissors may seem scary! But there are a few ways to make sure your child stays safe. Here are some tips:

  • As described above, only use small, child-friendly scissors. Children are not ready for regular scissors at this age.
  • Many play dough sets come with plastic child’s scissors. Using these can be a great introduction to learning to open and close scissors with a completely dull plastic blade. Trying to cut with play dough can be a fun activity for toddlers before using paper.
  • Demonstrate cutting with scissors for them, so they can see how it works. Show and talk to them about how to make sure their fingers aren’t in the way while cutting.
  • It’s a classic childhood rule: no running with scissors! Make sure your child knows this, and show them how to pass scissors to someone else (with the handle facing the person they are handing the scissors to). Make sure they know other basic rules, like never throw scissors or use them for anything other than cutting paper or using them for crafts.
  • Only allow your child to use scissors when you are able to supervise them.

Practicing using scissors can be fun!

Because scissors are often used in making crafts, there are lots of fun ways to practice. Try out some of these crafts to practice this fine motor skill.

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