When it comes to which hand a child prefers to use, there are right-handed, left-handed, mixed-handed and ambidextrous children. Right-handed children use the right hand for tasks that need only one hand, while left-handed children use the left hand for such tasks. Children who are mixed-handed use a particular hand for performing a task, and another hand for performing a different task. A mixed-handed child may use a particular hand to hold a spoon and a different hand to pick a toy. Ambidextrous children use any hand for any task, with both hands performing equally well. Handedness has a genetic component, so being left-handed or right-handed may run in families.

How do you determine if your child is right or left-handed?

You may notice your child’s hand preference as soon as he is able to reach out and grasp, starting around age 3 and a half to 4 months. This becomes more obvious from around age 2, but handedness becomes established around age 3 or 4.

To determine a child’s handedness, observe carefully to see whether he favours one hand more. Play objects or activities provide ample opportunity for development of hand skills. Place these objects directly in front of your child so that he reaches for them with his preferred hand and not the closest hand to the object.

About 90% of people are right-handed, while about 10% are left-handed. In certain cultures, left-handed children may face discrimination and unfair punishment for their left-handedness. Being left-handed, however, is not a vice or a disease. Being left-handed may be a problem only if there are other symptoms and signs of a learning disability.

How do you raise a left-handed child in a right-handed world?

Source: theirworld.org
  • Be a cheerleader. Left-handedness is a special trait. Imagine being part of a select 10% of the world’s population. The left-handed child will face enough stress in a right-handed world. He needs his parents, family, teachers and friends as allies, supporting and cheering him.
  • Read some history to your child. Benjamin Franklin was left handed, so was Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Rafael Nadal, Tom Cruise, Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama are all left-handed. Your left-handed child is in great company.
  • Invest in a lefty world. From zips and buttons to door handles, almost everything is made to favour a right-handed child. Therefore, whenever you can, try to level the playing field for your lefty child. Does your child like piano? Buy a left handed piano. Look for left-handed play things and tools for your child, but only after you are sure of his handedness.
  • Not everyone should write with the right. Writing may be a challenge for left-handed beginners in the hands of inexperienced teachers. Learn from experts or the internet how to teach a lefty child to write with ease. Discuss your child’s handedness with his teachers to avoid him getting frustrated by adults who may want to force him to use a particular hand.

Should you force your child to change his handedness?

If you force your child to use a particular hand, it can lead to frustration, low self-esteem and bad handwriting. On the other hand, most school facilities, for example desks and art tools, are made for right-handed people, so it may be a disadvantage at school being left-handed. This need not be the case. Education should be as inclusive as possible. Being left-handed is not a disability at all and should not be turned into one by adults who insist that children should be right-handed. Support a left-handed child to develop into the best version of his left-handed self.

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