Some children are able to apply to correct amount of pressure through their pencil when writing and colouring.  Others can either push too hard, which can affect the fluency of their movements and make running writing difficult.  Speed of writing can also be affected in this situation, as well as the likelihood of pain when writing for long periods being increased.  Other children press too lightly.  Here are a couple of tips that might help.

For children who press too hard on the paper:

Children who have difficulty writing too hard often have difficulty with finger placement and movement of the small muscles of the hand. Sometimes, correcting the pencil grip and posture may help this problem. 

It may be beneficial to provide a pacer.  The tip of the pacer will break if the child presses too hard and the child will get the feedback that they cannot press too hard.  Verbal prompts to “press lightly” should be used in conjunction with this strategy.

It may also be beneficial to have the child practice using their pencil to colour pictures in light grey, medium grey, dark grey and black.  This will help the child develop an understanding of how much pressure to apply. 

Placing something under the paper they are writing on such as a sheet of felt material, or folded tea towel, can assist.  If pushing too hard, the child is likely to make a hole in the paper.  This is a good way to provide feedback and encourage lightly pressing through the pencil.

For children who press too softly on the paper:

Use a weighted pencil to assist the child have more awareness of the pencil.

Correction of pencil grasp can often help with this problem.


If you notice your child is pressing to hard, or their writing is so soft you can barely read it, we are here to help.  We assess children’s handwriting by looking at all of the components that allow us to hold a pencil, figure out what we are writing, remember how to form letters correctly, and plan out a sentence.  If handwriting is a struggle, kids do not enjoy that aspect of school, particularly if they are starting to develop pain when writing.

Amy Geach, Occupational Therapist