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The Power of Ripping

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

Toddlers love ripping things, especially books, and it drives many parents up the wall. I am definitely one of them. It used to pain me whenever I saw another one of Joshua's books ripped. I find myself saying, "WHY are you ripping your books?" while Joshua just looks at me, confused as to why I was so angry with his big brown eyes and innocent look. In his eyes, he was just curious and wanted to see what happens when he rips the books.

I used to feel so frustrated and irritated when I found another book ripped. It wasn't until I did a bit more research that I learnt to let it go because I learnt the reason behind why kids enjoy tearing paper so much. From my research, I discovered that ripping or tearing paper is a fun way for your child to learn and develop their fine motor skills. Here are the skills they are learning while ripping the book:

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • Bilateral coordination

  • Pinch strength

  • Arch development

  • Intrinsic hand strength

  • Separation of the sides of the hand

  • Open thumb web space

  • Shoulder and forearm stability

  • Precision and refined grasp

  • Proprioceptive input

  • Motor planning

When your child tears a piece of paper, they are improving their hand strength and endurance in the small muscles in their hands. Training these intrinsic muscles is important because this will help your child with handwriting and colouring, managing buttons and zippers, and many more.

When you think about it, a lot is going on with their hands when your child is ripping paper. Their dominant hands assume a tripod grasp when holding the paper, which will help with their writing grasp. While their non-dominant hand is learning to assist the dominant hand with tearing, which will help them later on when they need to hold a piece of paper while they write or managing paper while cutting with scissors.

So when you think of it this way, the ripped books are a small price to pay for a lifelong skill. That is what I tell myself anyway to make myself feel better. LOL.

So next time when your child rips another - because they will. Take a deep breath and remember that this is just a phase; they are developing their fine motor skills, and it is ok. Just buy lots of sellotapes, so you can patch them back up. Books are meant to be read and used; the more battered they are, the more well-used and well-loved they are.

I hope you found this blog post helpful.

Sending you love & positive thoughts,

Christine xxx

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