Some parents start worrying when they see their child writing or doodling with the left hand. Some try to re-educate kids, some go to doctors. And they do have reasons to worry. Left-handed people always stand out from the crowd, and attention from people around can cause inconvenience and discomfort. Parents may worsen the situation by expressing their negative attitude and even developing low self-esteem in their kids. Let’s find out whether being a left-handed kid is problematic, and what can adults do to make things better.
Why is my kid left-handed?
The human brain consists of the left and the right hemisphere each of which controls certain spheres of life. For instance, the left hemisphere is responsible for abstract thinking and speech, while the right hemisphere is responsible for creative thinking, art, and musical perception. Domination of the left hemisphere makes us feel happiness and joy, domination of the right – fear and sadness. Any relative domination of some hemisphere determines psychological peculiarities of a person.
Physiological nature of left-handedness and right-handedness is connected with neural path crossways that go from limbs to brain hemispheres. Domination of the left hemisphere is expressed in the domination of right-handedness, and vice versa. In some people, this domination is not distinct, and those who can use both hands equally well are called ‘ambidextrous’. Self-recognition and mastering of speech is the kid’s main development milestone when some of the hemispheres take the function of the left one. This is why the true difference between right-handed and left-handed children reveals at the age of 3.
‘Right-brain’ left-handed children are not like their peers. As a rule, they are emotional, have an enormous talent in arts, and yet can be very stubborn. They draw and sculpture better, have outstanding musical skills, but may have problems with speech and difficulties pronouncing some sounds. Such kids are spontaneous, naive, naughty and whiney. Their mood changes instantly, and they are persistent in fulfilling their aspirations.
Reading and writing are very challenging for left-handed children: they may have problems mastering it in the elementary school. Everyday activities can also be inconvenient. Most objects are adjusted for right-handed people: locks, door handles, tools, musical instruments, etc. Dealing with all them requires additional adaptation.
How to define the dexterity of my child?
If you ask parents when they realized their kids’ left-hand preference, they will tell you it happened gradually. You will start noticing dexterity preferences at the age of 6-9 months, but toddlers can actually use both hands until their speech starts forming, and fine motor skills will be used more often. You’ll be able to determine your baby’s preferences when he or she starts favoring either hand to eat, draw, and index objects. Some preschoolers, however, can use both hands until they turn 5 or 6 years old. If you want to figure out whether your kid is left-handed, try to hand him or her a toy, and check what hand is drawn to reach for it.
Offer your kid a toy and check which hand is used to reach for it.
What’s the possibility of having a left-handed child?
According to James T. de Kay’s The Natural Superiority of the Left-Hander , there’s a 50% chance of having a left-handed baby, if both parents are left-handed. If both parents are right-handed, this possibility drops to 2%. In 2007, Dr. Clyde Francks has made a surprising discovery: the LRRTM1 gene on the male side is partially responsible for left-handedness. However, some experts suppose that heredity isn’t the only factor that makes left-hander’s brain set up in an asymmetrical way. Other reasons for left-handedness include:
- Development of the fetus. Some researchers are convinced that it’s the environment in the womb that influences baby’s hands rather than genetics. Several factors, including hormone exposure, can define which hand a child will use.
- Brain damage. Other groups of researchers promote a theory that no person is meant to be left-handed, and the domination of the left hand is conditioned by some kind of brain damage in kid’s early life. But there is no convincing evidence that could support this theory.
- Sex. The number of left-handed men slightly exceeds the number of left-handed women: researchers suppose that testosterone, the male hormone, can also influence dexterity.
- Copying. Kids can also learn to use the left or right hand by imitating their parents or sitters. But that still doesn’t explain why right-handed parents have left-handed kids.
- Forced adjustments. At any stage of his or her life, a person can become left-handed because of the injury of the right hand: there’s no choice but to use another hand.
Despite a variety of theories, genetics is still the only scientifically proved factor that defines left-handedness.
The rules of raising a left-handed kid
If you start compelling your kid to use the right hand, it can lead to undesirable outcomes. Your son or daughter can become nervous and naughty, lose appetite and sleep. Emotional distress in its turn leads to other complications: skin diseases, stammering, or bedwetting. A child can complain about fatigue of the right hand, headache, poor performance, and easy tiredness.
Re-educating a left-handed child can cause serious stress and physical complications.
Therefore, parents of a left-handed kid shouldn’t panic: they just need to accept their baby as he or she is, and figure out the methods of raising that will solve potential problems. Here are some recommendations for parents of left-handed children:
- Be kind and attentive;
- Make up a positive atmosphere in your family;
- Don’t try to fight kid’s stubbornness;
- Take “left-handedness” as granted;
- Give credit to your kid’s success and encourage the talents in art;
- Boost your little one’s self-esteem;
- Don’t compare your kid with (normal/healthy/usual) right-handed kids;
- Forget about exaggerated demands;
- Love your son/daughter the way he/she is.
Mind your words: “special” and “distinct” also means “unusual”, but it sounds much better and encouraging for a kid. Don’t say “normal” about right-handed kids when opposing them to your left-handed child – it hurts.
Conversations with left-handed kids should be especially delicate. Convince your child that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and there’s no need to hide left-handedness. Help your child to overcome the feeling of inferiority and low self-esteem. Mention great and talented left-handed people: there are a huge number of examples because according to statistics, 20-25% of genius personalities are left-handed.
Help to Study and Practice Sports
Perhaps, the most challenging period for a left-handed kid is studying in school: the world is tailored for right-handed people, and getting used to routine actions and usual objects can be quite difficult. Help your little one and create favorable conditions:
- If your son or daughter shares the school-desk with a peer, he or she should sit on the left side so that not to bother the neighbor.
- Place the table so that the light from the window or light fell from the right side.
- Buy special stationery materials. Tri-grip pencils and pens can help to develop a confident grip and overcome many issues, and smudge-proof erasable pens have also proved to be highly convenient.
- Figure out a correct sports stance. In fact, left-handedness doesn’t mean that your kid’s left hand will dominate in sports activities – it depends. A trainer can define which hand is leading. By the way, left-handed children have an advantage in sports, because they can take other players by surprise and compete against a lefty is hard!
Luckily, there are lots of special products and goods for left-handed people: pens, scissors, rulers, sports equipment, and even musical instruments. Therefore, you can ease your kid’s life considerably.
Finally, I’d like to admit that the modern society is getting much more tolerant to lefties: I’m a mother of a left-handed child too, and have never met a person trying to persuade me that left-handedness is some sort of deviation. Doctors, teachers, and parents start realizing that accepting left-handed children is the best choice, and what we should really do is support and encourage them. Left-handedness is a kind of a gift because it means that your kid has a huge potential in arts, music, science, and many other spheres!