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Monday 20 November 2017
Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
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Pincer Grip and Tripod Grip

Pincer Grip

Pinch grip usually develop at around 12 months old and is gained by being able to hold objects between the thumb and any of the fingers. Being able to hold objects between the thumb and any of the fingers is important for picking up small objects. Some children have limited control because they bring the thumb to the side of their fingers and not the pad.

  • Your child should make hoops with individual fingers. To do this, he/she should keep the pads of one finger and thumb together and make the shape of a hoop.
  • Then keeping the pads together, he/she should push the finger and thumb as straight as possible. This push pull is a skill required for activities such as fastening and unfastening buttons.
  • Ask your child to roll a ball of plasticine or play dough between their finger and thumb to make eyes for figures they are making.
  • If your child likes raisins or small sweets, encourage them to pick up one at a time with finger and thumb. They could even try to squash it between their fingers!
  • If passing a small object to your child, present it to them from the index finger side of the hand so when they grasp, the other fingers are excluded.


Tripod Grip

The tripod grip usually emerges around a child’s 3rd to 4th year. It uses the thumb, index (first) and middle fingers. It is the most functional grasp for gaining good pencil skills and is necessary for fastening buttons on clothes etc.

Teaching your child to develop a good tripod grip and how to hold a pencil correctly is one of the biggest favours you could do! The correct tripod grip on a pencil allows the hand the largest range of movement, whilst using as little exertion as possible. It will help your child develop their pencil skills, and increase their fluidity of movement in their hand.

One way to teach the child to hold a pencil is:

  • Lay the pencil on the table pointing towards you.
  • Pinch the pencil in between thumb and index finger at the point end where you want to hold it.
  • Lift the pencil and let it fall back into your web space while still holding it firmly with thumb and index.
  • Tuck your middle finger under the pencil so it rests firmly ready for drawing!


Ask your child to hold an object with the whole hand or all the fingers i.e. a pencil. Then encourage a tripod grip by asking him/her to hold their ring and little fingers into the palm whilst the other fingers are doing the work.

If your child is unable to do this, ask them to practice by holding a rubber or small toy no bigger than 2cm x 1cm (children often like to hold small toy animals) with the end two fingers and then trying to straighten the others. Continue practicing until your child succeeds!