The Trusty Pocket Knife :: Is Your Child Ready for a Pocket Knife?


I held my first pocket knife when I was eight years old. My growing hands held the shiny red gadget in awe. Currently, the same knife is resting comfortably in my pocketbook. My knife taught me lots of life skills. However, what it symbolized meant much more. My parents trusted me to be safe and smart with it. On the other hand, my cousin had his knife privileges taken almost immediately. This lesson was not lost to either of us. 

Giving your child a pocket knife can show them your trust.

Not all eight year olds are ready to handle a trusty pocket knife-  or any sharp tool. Obviously knives can be dangerous in instances where a child cannot be mentored and properly supervised. As a result, some parents may object to a child possessing a knife. I respect this position entirely! On the other hand, other parents encourage knife building skills when cooking with kids in the kitchen. Giving your child a pocket knife is such a personal choice. 

The rules of the pocket knife for kids.

Pocket knives are not toys.
No matter how trusty, a pocket knife must never be brought to school.
There are times when a pocket knife cannot be in your pocket. 
Take care of your knives! Dull knives can be more unsafe than sharper blades.
Clean your pocket knife regularly (Q-tips work great)

Pocket KnifeToday, pocket knives can be quite gadgety. My son’s knife includes:

  • scissors
  • pliers
  • screw drivers
  • a tiny adjustable wrench
  • cap lifter
  • can opener
  • the obligatory file
  • various other helpful accessories
  • two knife blades

Choosing a pocket knife with more gadgets and fewer blades makes sense for younger users. In some instances, knife blades can also be permanently removed from the device. Removing the knives leaves only the accessories which can be a great option for younger users. They can learn and earn the more potentially dangerous tools. 

Safe (and Plastic) Pocket Knives for Young Children

There are many “first” Swiss Army style knives for children as young as five. My favorite is the plastic (and oversized) “Theo Klein Victorinox”. This knife teaches a child to open and close it safely, practice safe cleaning, and to “cut” away from themselves. 

Is my child ready for a pocket knife?

Not just anyone can have a pocket knife, as my cousin learned at a young age. A Boy Scout must earn a Totin Chip before they can carry one, for example. There are two ways that I measure readiness to handle a pocketknife. 

My pocket knife allowed me to personify Tom Sawyer in my backyard. It was fun! Moreover, using tools independently builds independence in children of all ages. These skills are often not taught in school. Observe your child and speak to other caregiver before gifting a pocket knife. Always balance safety with learning and independence. A healthy balance will help ensure responsible and trustworthy use.