5 Tips For Raising A Left-Handed Child In A Right-Hand World

Left-handed children are no different from others. Help them to be confident.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Neha Bhave Salankar, MD Dr. Neha Bhave Salankar Dr. Neha Bhave SalankarMD facebook_icon Specialty: PsychiatryExperience: 11 years
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Children who are ambidextrous use both their hands equally depending on the task they are performing. Whereas for left-handed kids, it is their dominant hand. They may write or perform the essential functions with their left hand and pick up their toys with their right hand.

Although left-handed people are rare to form only 10% of the total population (1), it does not prevent them from attaining success. Here we discuss left-handed children and various details to note about raising them.

Why Are Some Children Lefthanded?

Your child might be left handed due to various reasons, even if you and your partner are right handed. Although the exact reason behind a person being left handed or southpaw is unknown, here are some theories.

1. Genes

Some researchers suggest that several genetic factors could play a role in a child being left handed (2).

2. Sex

The sex of the child may also play a role in the handedness of the child. A meta-analysis of 144 handedness and brain laterality studies suggests that boys are more likely to be left handed than girls (3) (4).

3. Low birth weight

A study conducted on triplets suggests that babies with low birth weight are more prone to developmental delays and have higher odds of being left handed (5).

4. Modeling

In some rare cases, children may choose to use their right or left hands by observing their parents or close caregivers.

Benefits Of Being A Left Handed Child

While your child might be one out of ten right handed children, there are certain benefits to being a lefthander (6) (7) (8) (9) (10).

1. Creativity

Research suggests that left handed people are better in the areas of spatial and musical intelligence than right handed people. This is because left handed people generally use the right hemisphere of their brains, where all the creative centers are present.

2. Memorizing

Left handed children are believed to be better at memorizing things and recalling them perfectly at a later time. This happens because the two hemispheres of the brain of left handed people are better connected.

3. Upper hand in certain sports

Left handed people also have a certain advantage over right handed people in certain sports. They can excel in sports such as tennis and boxing using their dominant hand against their right handed opponents as right handed people are not used to playing against left handed opponents.

Challenges Of Being A Lefthanded Child

In a world designed for right handed people, left handed children might face several difficulties. Here are some of them (10).

  1. Western writing runs from left to right. A left-handed child has to put in the extra effort while learning to write.
  2. Items such as scissors are traditionally designed for right handed people. A left-handed child has to use their right hand or specially-designed scissors.
  3. Left-handed children learning to write often write back to front. This should not be confused with dyslexia, and it usually resolves with time and practice.
  4. Tables and desks in schools are generally designed for right handed people, making it challenging for left handed people to use them.
  5. Notebooks are bound on the left, and so, left handed children find it challenging to use them.
  6. Door hinges and handles are usually placed where right handed people can access them with ease. A left handed child might hurt themselves while using them.
  7. A computer mouse is preset for a right handed person. However, by changing a couple of settings, this can be easily remedied.
  8. Left Handed people might find it challenging to operate circular saws. Using circular saws is also dangerous for left handed children.

Tips For Teaching Left Handed Children To Write

The following are a few writing techniques to help your left handed child to write (11).

1. Check the grip

The child must hold the pencil at least three centimeters from the pointed end. Let the child hold the pencil firmly with their thumb and index fingers and then curl the middle finger over the other side. This grip is important because it allows the child to see what they are writing and prevents smudges.

2. Position the paper

Let the child tilt the paper slightly to the right. Children should ideally position their pages at a 45-degree angle, but your child can experiment until they are comfortable.

3. Get proper writing materials

A left handed child might find it challenging to use very fine nibs. Let them use flexible and thicker nibs. You can also give them ink that dries quickly as it reduces the risk of smudges. They can also use softer leaded pencils than harder ones to reduce writing pressure.

4. Let them use both hands

In the early stages, let your child experiment with both hands before they settle for the hand with which they are most comfortable. This will give you a chance to see if your child is ambidextrous, and they can choose to write in their preferred hand without any pressure.

5. Check the seating arrangement

Ensure your left handed child isn’t sitting too close to the right of a righthander while writing.

How To Raise A Left Handed Child?

If your child is a lefty, here are a few things you can do to help them.

1. Allow creative freedom

As lefties lean towards the creative side, give them creative freedom. Let them experiment with different creative pursuits while they decide what they are comfortable with.

2. Do not force them to switch hands

One of the worst things you can do is force a left handed child to use their right hand for daily activities. This might affect their neural circuitry, and they might not be able to use either hand properly in the future. This also instills the idea in them that something is inherently wrong with them and impacts their confidence.

3. Use a mirror

Whenever your child is learning any new activity by observing you, they might get confused about the hand they need to use. Use a mirror so that they understand how they need to use their hands.

4. Encourage them to take part in sports

Encourage your child to participate in sports. Left handed people generally have the natural edge over right handed people in certain sports.

5. Make allowances

If your child is left handed, you can do little things that make their life easier. Using left handed scissors, getting a chair’s desk attached to the left side, making them sit on the left side of a shared desk, or even adjusting the computer’s mouse are little things you can do to make them feel comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are left-handed children more intelligent?

It is believed that left-handed people may be more advanced in the understanding and reasoning spectrum. This can be due to the presence of a more symmetric brain in left-handed people that allows both the hemispheres of the brain to equally participate in the development and enhancement of the person’s abilities, unlike right-handed people (12).

2. What country has the most left-handers?

The highest 10% of left-handed people are believed to be in western Europe, Australia, North America, and New Zealand (13).

Some ideas imply that your child’s lefthandedness is due to heredity, sex, or low birth weight; however, it might also be a modeling behavior in your child that they have picked up from others. While left-handed kids are known to be creative and to have an advantage in certain sports, your child may struggle with writing, utilizing items designed for right-handed people, and other difficulties. Therefore, as a parent, you must look after them and assist in learning to do everyday tasks. However, do not compel your child to become right-handed because it may harm their self-confidence.

Key Pointers

  • Being a left-hander, your child may face trouble using common things like books, scissors, etc., as they are mostly designed for right-handers.
  • Let them try working with both hands, but do not force them out of their comfort zone.
  • Make necessary arrangements in the house and in their life to make things easier.
  • Investing in left-hand-friendly tools and equipment and arranging the house for their convenience are a few things to try.

References

1. Michael Price; The left brain knows what the right hand is doing; American Psychological Association (2009).
2. Sarah E Medland et al.; Genetic influences on handedness: data from 25,732 Australian and Dutch twin families; HHS Author Manuscripts (2010).
3. Marietta Papadatou-Pastou et al.; Sex differences in left-handedness: a meta-analysis of 144 studies; Psychological bulletin (2008).
4. Michael Price; Lateral of the sexes; American Psychological Association (2009).
5. Kauko Heikkilä et al.; Triplets, birthweight, and handedness; PNAS (2018).
6. James Adeniyi Adekoya and Abiodun Adekunle Ogunola; Relationship between Left-Handedness and Increased Intelligence among University Undergraduates; Psychology and Behavioral Sciences (2015).
7. Your Left-Handed Brain; Frontiers Media
8. The Lefty Advantage; American Association for the Advancement of Science
9. Giovanni Sala et al.; The Relationship between Handedness and Mathematics Is Non-linear and Is Moderated by Gender, Age, and Type of Task; Frontiers in Psychology (2017).
10. Left-handedness; Better Health Channel
11. Handwriting Advice for Left Handers; NHSGGC
12. Saba Ghayas and Adnan Adil (2007); Effect of Handedness on Intelligence Level of Students; ResearchGate
13. Left-handers around the world; The Pennsylvania State University
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Dr. Neha Bhave Salankar is a consultant psychiatrist at Bhave Institute of Mental Health based in Nagpur and has around 11 years of experience in the field. Having been a meritorious student throughout, she bagged the prestigious gold medal for medicine in MBBS and MD psychiatry.

Read full bio of Dr. Neha Bhave Salankar
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