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Mastering Scissor Skills

You've spent the past few years trying to keep your child from sharp objects. After she turns 3, though, she'll be ready to tackle safety scissors. You'll know she has the fine motor skills needed when she can shape play dough or hold a pencil, says Sue Adair, director of education for Goddard Systems, Inc., in King of Prussia, PA. Then, help her by:

Buying well
Really cheap scissors might not work well and be frustrating. The fanciest ones -- with springs that temper movement, wide handles, or three finger slots -- are easier to use, but not necessary. Lefties will need left-handed versions, though.

Taking short cuts
Your tot won't be able to manage a straight line across a sheet of paper in the beginning. Start her off making small snips along its edge, or hold up narrow strips for her to slice in two.

Falling in line
As your child masters scissors (which can take about a year), gradually up the challenge, says Adair. Draw a line -- later, a curve -- for her to follow. Before you know it, she'll be clipping pics of Zac Efron for wall decor.