Development FAQ: 24+ months – Entertaining and Educating your Toddler

How can I help my three-year-old learn to use scissors?

My three-year old becomes very frustrated when using scissors. She usually ends up with torn paper. How can I help her?

Using scissors is a skill some children find hard to master, as the blades must be at a 45 degree angle to the paper to cut efficiently. Many children of this age enjoy cutting for its own sake. To help them master this skill prepare some cutting strips. Use round-ended metal bladed scissors rather than plastic ones. By three you may be aware that your child is left-handed. If you think she is, left handed scissors can be bought from shops specialising in young children’s playthings.

Use thin card rather than paper to begin with. Recycle card from tissue boxes, food packets etc. Flatten any boxes and use the unprinted side. Make the strips about 20-25cm long and 16cm wide. Using a ruler and thick felt-tip pen, draw straight lines about 4cm apart. Show your child how to hold the card with one hand whilst cutting with the other following the line.

As she becomes more proficient, draw wavy lines then zigzags. Once she has mastered this, give her old greeting cards to cut. Use ones with definite outlines so she is able to see where to cut. It won’t be long before your child can cut out on paper, as she has acquired the skill of holding scissors at the right angle.