How to Talk to Your Kids to Help Them Improve Their Handwriting

how to talk to your kids about messy handwriting

This summer I had a group of Awesome Adults join my Legible Handwriting for Kids program.

No surprise to me many of them had the same struggle – getting their kids on board to fix this handwriting thing.  If you have unsuccessfully tried to get your sweet darling on board to improve their handwriting so that their school life gets easier then this post is just for you.

In this post, you will get an inside scoop on how to get unstuck so that you can help your child.

HINT: It doesn’t cost a thing, it’s a game changer and it works like fairy dust! It’s all about how you reframe what you say to your kids and the feedback that you give them. 

Prefer to watch this content? Click the play button below to watch my video all about How to Talk to Your Kids to Help Them Improve Their Handwriting 

A lot of times it’s so hard to help our kids because they are just not on board with having mom and dad help, especially the older kids. When it comes to handwriting, parents really aren’t sure what they should do, how they should do, if they should even be giving help. 

In my practice as a pediatric occupational therapist working with kids of all ages, I’ve found a few strategies that have helped me get them to really respond to me. And I’ve also shared these strategies with their parents so that their kids become receptive to them as well. These strategies work with teachers too. 

How to Talk to Your Kids About Handwriting: The WRONG Way

How we talk to our kids really has an effect on if and how they respond to our help. Here are some of the things we usually say to our kids when it comes to their handwriting: 

  • “That’s so messy.”
  • “I can’t read your writing.”
  • “You can do so much better than this.”
  • “Do it again and make it neater.”

What’s wrong with this kind of feedback? Ugh, So much

What happens is that kids really don’t understand what we mean by “neater” or “better” or “messy.” They may know the definitions, but they don’t know how to make their handwriting or school work neater in a way that fits into their real everyday life. These broad terms could mean so many different things and also absolutely nothing to our kids. 

How to Talk to Your Kids: The RIGHT Way

So what should we say instead of, “Make it neater,” or “It’s so messy”? 

We need to change the language of our feedback to be specific.

Instead of saying, “Your handwriting is so messy,” explain what’s “messy” about it.

Say, “Your words are too close together, and I can’t read what you wrote.”

Or, “I can’t read your notes because your letters are all different sizes all over the paper.”

Instead of saying, “Writer it neater,” be specific as to what would make their writing “neater” or more readable.

Quick Tip: Letter size is usually the go-to for handwriting issues. Click here to read my blogpost all about letter size and messy handwriting. 

Say, “Rewrite your sentence, but this time, try to put a space between each word. Make each space the same size as the tip of your pinky.” 

Notice, we are also being specific about how much space to leave between words.

Handwriting Practice Resources 

So the next time you need to give feedback to your child or student, I want you to stop and think about what specifically you want them to change about their handwriting. Then give the feedback in a way that’s specific and clear to the child. 

How to Talk to Your Kids About Messy Handwriting Cheat Sheet Freebie Handwriting Practice Sheet
FREEBIE: What NOT to Say to Your Kids Cheat Sheet

I’ve got a FREE Cheat Sheet with more examples of What NOT to Say to Your Kids. Click here to download it. 

This tip works for other areas of your child as well. Watch my video below about how to talk to your kids so they actually pay attention and listen to you.

What other examples of specific feedback do you have? Share it in the comments! Let me know if you try out these tips about how to talk to your kids and how they worked out for you!

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