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 lefthanded due to various reasons, even if you and your partner are righthanded. Although the exact reason behind a person being lefthanded or southpaw is unknown, here are some theories.
Some researchers suggest that several genetic factors could play a role in a child being lefthanded (2).
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 lefthanded than girls (3) (4).
3. Low birth weight
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 Lefthanded Child
Research suggests that lefthanded people are better in the areas of spatial and musical intelligence than righthanded people. This is because lefthanded people generally use the right hemisphere of their brains, where all the creative centers are present.
Lefthanded 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 lefthanded people are better connected.
3. Upper hand in certain sports
Lefthanded people also have a certain advantage over righthanded people in certain sports. They can excel in sports such as tennis and boxing using their dominant hand against their righthanded opponents as righthanded people are not used to playing against lefthanded opponents.
Challenges Of Being A Lefthanded Child
In a world designed for righthanded people, lefthanded children might face several difficulties. Here are some of them (10).
- Western writing runs from left to right. A left-handed child has to put in the extra effort while learning to write.
- Items such as scissors are traditionally designed for righthanded people. A left-handed child has to use their right hand or specially-designed scissors.
- 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.
- Tables and desks in schools are generally designed for righthanded people, making it challenging for lefthanded people to use them.
- Notebooks are bound on the left, and so, lefthanded children find it challenging to use them.
- Door hinges and handles are usually placed where righthanded people can access them with ease. A lefthanded child might hurt themselves while using them.
- A computer mouse is preset for a righthanded person. However, by changing a couple of settings, this can be easily remedied.
- Lefthanded people might find it challenging to operate circular saws. Using circular saws is also dangerous for lefthanded children.
Tips For Teaching Lefthanded Children To Write
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 lefthanded 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 lefthanded child isn’t sitting too close to the right of a righthander while writing.
How To Raise A Lefthanded 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 lefthanded 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.
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. Lefthanded people generally have the natural edge over righthanded people in certain sports.
5. Make allowances
If your child is lefthanded, you can do little things that make their life easier. Using lefthanded 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.
Being a lefthanded person is no longer looked down upon. However, there are still a lot of myths surrounding it. These myths can affect your child if not addressed in the early stages. The tips discussed in this article can guide you to raise and encourage a lefthanded child properly. Making them play to their advantage can go a long way in building their confidence.
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