Toggle site contrast Toggle Contract

Using scissors

Children often start to use scissors between the ages of 3 and 4 years. Your child may become very interested in watching you use scissors, or pretend they’re cutting something themselves.

When can my child start using scissors?

Usually when they can do activities that involve both hands doing different things. For example, holding dolly/teddy whilst feeding with a spoon, using Duplo or tearing paper.

Play activities such as finger puppets, hand rhymes and Playdoh will encourage development of your child’s hand skills. If using plastic children’s scissors, make sure they can actually cut paper.

How can I help my child develop this skill?

Any activities and games that encourage your child to open and close their fingers will help prepare them to use scissors. For example playing with:

  • sponges and transferring water
  • water pistols and spray bottles
  • musical instruments such as castanets and finger cymbals.

Children can also play games using tongs or large tweezers to pick up small items, for example, the board game Operation.

How your child should hold scissors

There are two ways your child could hold scissors to start with. See which works best for them

Option one

Hold the scissors with the middle finger and thumb in the scissor loops, stabilising the lower loop with the index finger outside.

Option two

Hold scissors with both the index and middle fingers placed in the lower loop.

Make sure your child tucks their elbows in against their body and their thumb is ‘on top’ of the paper, instead of underneath.

How to start snipping

Start your child with things they can cut in half with one snip, such as thin strips of paper, drinking straws, or a thin ‘sausage’ of Play-Doh.

Your child can also ‘fringe’ (snipping around the edge of a piece of paper) before you encourage them to make 2 or 3 snips over a wider strip of paper.

How to cut lines

Draw thick lines on a piece of paper for your child to follow and gradually use thinner lines. You could also try using a hole punch to make a line of holes for them to cut along. Then progress to simple shapes like circles and squares.

Make cutting fun and part of an activity, such as making paper chains or a collage.