My daughter complains that writing hurts her hand. What's going on?


Your daughter may be struggling with holding her pencil correctly. When children begin to use a finger grip, they will usually use all five fingers to grip a pencil (known as an “immature” or five-finger grip). By 5 or 6 years old, children’s finger muscles are more developed and strong enough to grip a pencil correctly, using only three-fingers – their thumb, index, and middle fingers. While it is normal for children to switch back and forth between using a five-finger and three-finger grip as they practice writing, you may notice that your daughter favors holding her pencil using a five-finger grip. Rather than correcting her pencil grip, you can promote the correct grip by doing fun activities that will help develop her hand and finger muscles, such as playing with blocks or doing puzzles.

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.