Occupational Therapist Shares Tips How To Correct A Poor Pencil Grip

Handwriting is a complex process where different processes. There are so many types of grasps that your child’s pencil holding skills can differ widely. These exercises can help make it easier for the child put less stress on the hand and fingers.

Nowadays every other parent is heard complaining about handwriting and how it is too much to write. “My son gets tired of writing. My daughter dislikes writing”. 

Handwriting is a complex process where different processes like good postural control, stabilization of the shoulder, wrist position and arch development of the hand, finger movements and strength, pincer grip, functional grasp, and visual perceptual skills are involved. 

In My Tenure, I Have Seen Children With Different Types Of Grasps:

pencil grip kids
  • Can be a thumb wrap
  • Closed web space
  • 5 finger grasp
  • 2 finger grasp

These are all dysfunctional grasps. The functional grasp is called the Tripod grasp where the pencil is held with the index finger and thumb and supported by the middle finger under the pencil.

When the parent comes with complaints of the child not being able to grasp the pencil well (dysfunctional grasp). After evaluation, if only grasp is affected (which is rare). Depending on the type of dysfunctional grasp, Certain exercises to build strength, isolation of fingers, and thumb web space are advised. 

Some Of The Fun Activities Parents Can Do Are As Follows:

Bubble wrap

Popping bubbles with writing fingers (Index Finger and Thumb) helps build strength

Tennis ball

Make a slit in the tennis ball and call it a hungry ball. Hold in hand and press to open the slit, add some tiny things to feed. Helps in hand strength, web space strengthening, and bilateral integration.

Pencil games

Walking up and down the pencil with writing fingers (IF and thumb), pencil windmills, and pencil rolls. This helps in the movement and rotation skills of fingers.

Shuffling cards

Shuffling cards with cupped hands. This can help in the opening of web space.

Coin game

Depending on the child’s agenda ability, pick up 5 or 1 Rupee coin (gradually increase the number of coins) with writing fingers one by one without dropping the coins. It enhances hand manipulation skills.

Bottle lids

Opening and closing different sizes of bottle lids with cupped hands also helps in building strength.

Make the child do fun activities using writing fingers and then gradually practise holding a pencil in a functional grasp. Start writing in the air with this and slowly on paper with a few words.

These are some of the activities which are easily available at home and can be made fun to help in building up strength, isolation, opening up webspace and in-hand manipulation skills which can help towards a more functional way of holding the pencil.

pencil grips

Nowadays a lot of parents are buying various grips to have a functional grasp but before starting to think about grip, strengthening the muscles of the hand, and developing the arch of the hand should be done. It may diminish the need to use the external grip.

In my opinion, grips should only be used for creating muscle memory of hold (just to make the child understand how to hold it functionally and write) 

Sometimes the child is very comfortable with an awkward grip and has no problem with writing or endurance. Then one can use their judgment or consult an occupational therapist.

Above mentioned activities are general hand-strengthening activities, not pertaining to a particular type of grasp. It is possible that your child may need more than those mentioned above. An Occupational therapist would be the best person for more case-specific guidance.

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