What’s An Appropriate Age?
Pocket knives hold a most alluring appeal to children. They seem to be a most important rite of passage for both boys and girls. The look on the face of your child when he or she is bestowed with their first real pocket knife is a look that you will remember forever. It’s a mixture of joy, pride, and seriousness as they know this is putting them to a new level of being just a bit more grown up. I know as I am a mother of four and have seen this with both my sons and my daughter.
There is also a lot of controversy surrounding children and knives. I would say get over how knives promote violence. Anything at all promotes violence and putting that attachment to a knife, as your child watches you cut, chop, slice, and do everything else you do with a knife will leave you looking like a hypocrite. Knives are about having the most historical and well used tool in the history of being human, and your child inherently senses that.
Chances are your child will seem very interested in your own pocket knife, or wanting to cut things all by themselves, just like they see older kids and adults doing. Then they begin to notice that other people, maybe even some of their friends, have their own pocket knives and they will want to have one of their own. The popular question at this point is how do you determine what is the most appropriate age for a first pocket knife?
The first and most important pieces to look at when deciding if your child is old enough for their own pocket knife, is their maturity and responsibility level. Does your child follow directions? Does he/she have the responsibility and respect level that is required to handle a pocket knife? Making sure your child understands the importance of this can help set some great goals for you to work on together.
Start with Knife Safety Education
Teaching your child knife safety should come before allowing your child to handle anything sharp, whether it’s knives or scissors. How to hold them, carry them, and hand them back to you are the first skills that you can practice with them. One idea is to start with a butter knife, or some other item that could represent a knife and practice safe handling skills.
Safe Knife Handling:
- Always hold knives by the handle and pointed away from your body.
- Always carry knives pointed outward and point down. (If I have to tell you “don’t run with sharp pointy things, you probably shouldn’t have children, but you do want to make sure your child is very clear on that.)
- Hand a knife over handle first with the blade pointed down away from both your bodies.
Don’t just do these safe knife handling rules once and assume your child “gets it”. Practice it repeatedly until you are quite sure they have formed some good habits.
Pick Your Child’s First Pocket Knife
Once your child has mastered the skills involved in handling a pocket knife, pick an appropriate pocket knife for them. Victorinox has a most excellent line of first time pocket knives for young ones. They have rounded tips and are sharp, but not razor sharp. They are specifically engineered for a child of six or seven in mind.
Classic Red with Nail File
Classic Pink Translucent
Supervise All Activities with Your Child’s Pocket Knife
When you first give your child their pocket knife, make sure that you allow them to use it, hold it, perhaps carry if for just a little bit, with you watching them of course. Then, they need to give it back to you until the next opportunity that you can spend time with them and their pocket knife. This will assure that your child doesn’t “accidentally” take it to school or have an issue with it by allowing friends to handle it.
After a time, you will feel your child is old enough to have their pocket knife to keep in their room or around the house as they see fit, but make sure you feel 100% comfortable with this first. In the meantime, there will be plenty of opportunity for you and your child to enjoy quality time together while teaching them a skill they will use their entire life. You can teach them how to care for and even how to sharpen their knife when they are fully skilled in the basics.
My children still get excited today when they receive a gift of a new knife. Of course, they are much older now. We’ll soon be looking into kitchen knives and other utility knives for their first new homes/apartments as they set out on their own. But I’ll always remember their very own first pocket knife, and hearing from my children so will they.