The coordination of using your thumb and index finger to perform tasks, also known as the pincer grip, is a crucial part of fine motor development. Adults use this grip for all kinds of things, including buttoning shirts, picking up tiny objects, and even using a pencil. This grip is usually considered a baby skill, but toddlers and older children need just as many opportunities to practice the grip as well.
Some children have delays in developing the pincer grip due to the increased reliance on technology at a younger age. Unfortunately, this lack of development can lead to difficulty grasping a pencil down the line. It can become a concern for your child’s hand, finger, and wrist muscles.
Here are some activities that can help your child practice their pincer grip.
1. Threading beads
I bet you didn’t think there was an occupational reason for threading popcorn onto a string, huh? While this traditional holiday task is better suited for slightly older children, toddlers also enjoy practicing their grip in this way. Children get the hang of threading beads onto a string by their second birthday. This task not only reinforces the pincer grasp but also helps with hand-eye coordination. There are many bead kits out there for children, or you can make your own with wide beads and thick yarn.
2. Transferring objects
While it may not seem like a lot of fun to you, transferring objects from one bowl to another can be very engaging for toddlers and small children. The act of transferring small beans or grains of rice with the spoon from one bowl to another takes quite a bit of concentration and coordination to master. While this game is simple on the surface, it allows your child to strengthen their hands, fingers, and wrist muscles.
Finally, one of the best ways to practice the pencil grip is to hold pencil-shaped objects. Children go through several stages with their pencil grip as their pincer grip gets better. At 18 months, your child should be able to grasp a crayon and scribble on their own. By two years old, they may be able to imitate vertical lines and color inside a large sheet of paper. By three years old, your child should be grasping their crayon with their thumb and first finger rather than using a fist. And by four, their drawings should look identifiable.
A child should have a modified tripod grasp mastered by their fourth birthday. If they are having trouble at this stage of development, then it may be necessary to invest in occupational therapy. There are many ways to engage in therapy, whether you prefer an in-person therapy session or a remote lesson for better flexibility. Online therapists, such as Connect Teletherapy, offer many remote learning options, including Skype and video calls, to ensure your child gets the therapy they need.