Your 3-year-old: Using scissors

Your 3-year-old: Using scissors

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Your 3-year-old now

Some parents feel skittish about putting a pair of scissors into a 3-year-old's hands, but most threes are ready to try. Learning to cut promotes fine motor development by exercising the muscles in the hands and honing hand-eye coordination.

Most 3-year-olds can cut across a piece of paper. At around 3 1/2, they can cut straight lines, staying within a half inch of a guideline, and may even be able to cut out a circle. To practice:

  • Have your child sit at a table when cutting.
  • Teach her how to hold the scissors correctly.
  • Make sure you get a good pair. Blunt, child-size scissors are the safest starters, but some safety scissors or plastic ones barely get through the paper or they stick closed.
  • Draw thick, straight lines on a piece of paper for your child to follow. Use thicker materials to cut through at first (thin cardboard or manila folders), then move on to construction paper and finally regular paper. She'll be snipping snowflakes in no time.

If your child has trouble managing scissors or you don't have safe ones, let her try picking up objects around the house with a pair of tongs. The motion is the same as with scissors – open, close, open, close.

Your life now

Family vacations can be grueling if your child's sleep habits get disrupted. Remember that it took only a few days to get off track (staying up later, coming into Mom and Dad's bed in the middle of the night). Likewise, your child can get back on track in the same short space of time if you're clear about your expectations and persistent about enforcing them.

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