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As your baby starts growing up into a little toddler, various aspects of its personality will begin to emerge. He might be a quiet child who is comfortable with you or plays alone by himself, or he might be gregarious and tend to happily go to anyone who beckons him with a smiling face. Another aspect that makes itself known as the child grows is the dominant hand. And if your child is a lefty, a barrage of questions might appear in your head, especially if you are right-handed. If you are one of the parents wondering how to teach a left-handed child to write letters or handle objects, you will find this article quite helpful.
When Will You Know Your Child Is Left-Handed?
It has been statistically observed that nearly 9 out of 10 children that are born have the right hand to be their dominant hand. This leaves at least 1 child in 10 to be a left-handed one. When parents ask is my child left-handed, it usually is a sign that their child is beginning to use both hands properly.
Most toddlers begin to use their hands properly only when they are about 7-9 months old. They also properly understand the presence of their limbs, the existence of two hands, and usually tend to use both of them as and when needed. But it will still be difficult to determine whether your child is left-handed or not as he is yet to realise which hand he likes to use more often. However, by the time the child turns two years old, he would reveal whether he is a lefty or not.
At times, certain kids can show their left-handedness much sooner if you can engage them in the right activities. Rolling a ball towards your child or asking him to pass you a toy can help you observe which hand he naturally tends to use and give you some hint if he is going to be a lefty. It is important to never tell him to use the right hand forcibly.
What May Cause Left-Handedness in Children?
The development of left-hand turning out to be the dominant one is the result of the biology of the parents, the growth of the baby during pregnancy, as well as certain pre-existing characteristics.
1. Presence of Specific Genes
One of the strongest factors that doctors have pinpointed for a child to turn out a lefty is the presence of a specific gene. Genetic factors play a vital role in creating a unique personality for every child that is born on earth. In such cases, scientists believe that the presence of a gene called LRRTM1, which is usually inherited from the father, has a tendency to make the child a left-handed person.
2. Gender-Based Distribution
This is not a generalised statement that applies in every case but more of a statistical observation based on data. On a gender-based comparison, the number of males who are left-handed is slightly higher than the number of females who are left-handed. Some doctors depend on this study to make an assumption that the presence of testosterone could play a role in left-handedness, too.
3. Foetal Development
A substantial portion of the baby’s core growth takes inside the womb. Hence, its condition cannot be ignored in this regard. Exposure to various factors or the presence of one hormone in excess than the other could all play some role in developing the dominant hand for the baby.
4. Learning By Observing
Many believe that children are originally ambidextrous, and they begin to use a specific hand by observing what hands their parents use. Although there is truth to the fact that children do learn a lot by mimicking adult behaviour, this theory falls short in explaining right-handed parents giving birth to a left-handed child.
5. Brain Development Issues
This reason is slightly orthodox in its source, but for a long time, and even now, it is considered that human beings are normally right-handed. It is the presence of issues in brain development or the foetus suffering damage to the brain that causes a child to be left-handed. Rarely has any evidence come up in support of this theory.
6. Necessary Adaptations
Some children might be born with a non-functional right hand. Or an early accident could render their right hand incapable of doing usual tasks. In such conditions, the child does learn to use his left-hand and end up being a lefty.
Benefits of Being a Lefty
When the world has been created primarily to suit the majority type of people, many might believe that lefties have to face a ton of problems. As true as that might be, there are a few benefits that only left-handed people are privy to.
1. A Pre-Ordained Creative Mindset
Biologically, the dominant hand reveals what side of the brain a person generally uses, and it is the opposite of the dominant hand. This makes lefties a prominently right-brained category of people, which are well-known for being creative and imaginative. This can be used to their advantage really well.
2. Ability to Multitask
Left-handed people have to learn a number of things in a different way quite early in life. This puts their brain in top-gear to be able to process numerous things quickly. The consequence of it is the ability of the brain to handle multiple things at once, making them a master of multitasking.
3. Enhanced Underwater Eyesight
As surprising as it might sound, left-handed people have an uncanny benefit of being able to see things clearly underwater. So for people who are usually closer to the shore or choose to pursue swimming as a sport, this can work pretty well to their advantage.
4. An Increased IQ Level
This, too, isn’t a generalised rule but based on statistics. On comparing the members of MENSA where everybody has a high IQ, nearly 20% of the members are left-handed. And since the percentage of left-handed children, in general, is low, your child has a higher chance of developing great IQ.
5. An Edge in Various Sports
Sports like cricket, basketball, tennis and many others have players that are predominantly right-handed. The presence of a left-handed opponent can throw their game off balance, and give your child an added advantage in it.
Challenges for Lefty Kids
A left-handed child’s development process is not free from challenges. There are more of those than for other kids since these children have to adjust to a world not fully suitable to them.
- What seems absolutely normal to us can be an aberration for left-handed children as they struggle with everyday activities in the world. A simple day of doing the most basic stuff with our left hand can give you an understanding of how it feels.
- Doors are all hinged to suit right-handed people and so are their handles. This can result in your kid hitting his own feet with the door and hurting himself repeatedly.
- Scissors might look like there are just two sections to hold it, but those, too, are made for right-handed people. Your left-handed child might require a scissor made specifically for him to see what he is cutting and cut comfortably.
- Most tables in the school have drawers and compartments on the right, making it a problem for left-handed students.
- Notebooks, too, have a binding on the left side, which poses a unique issue for such kids.
- Left-handed children end up being knocked in their chest by the elbows of right-handed people when they sit next to them. However, they soon learn to sit on the left edge of a table and avoid problems.
- Default settings of a computer mouse are meant for right-handed people. This can be easily corrected by switching the keys in the control panel.
- A simple activity like tying the shoelaces or buttoning a shirt can be quite difficult when a right-handed person teaches them.
How to Raise a Left-Handed Child?
As parents, teaching a left-handed child and raising him the right way can pose challenges, we are not quite prepared to handle. Here’s how you can do them better.
1. Never Force to Switch Hands
There is nothing wrong with using a left hand for everyday activities. It is a natural trait, and that is where your child’s strength lies. Help him be better at it rather than forcibly changing it.
2. Make Use of a Mirror
When your child learns a new activity by mimicking your movements, it can get further difficult for him to follow which hand is to be used exactly. Let your child observe you in a mirror and then repeat it as he sees it. This can make it easier for him.
3. Teach Writing Techniques
Writing techniques for left-handed kids are different. They require holding the pen differently and writing it in a manner that doesn’t stress the wrists and spoil the pages as they write. Many school teachers are unaware of these techniques, and it is up to you to ensure your child learns it the right way.
4. Use a Creative Approach
Since left-handed kids have a dominant right brain, make use of creative techniques to develop their skills. Writing their name in reverse order, or making a mirror reflection of it, can help their visual and spatial development and boost their brainpower, too.
5. Make Changes to Suit Your Child
Change things to suit your child and not the other way around. Purchase a left-handed scissor, change the control panel settings for your mouse, and change the study desk at home, so that your child feels accepted and comfortable in the environment he lives in.
Tips for Teaching Left-Handed Kids to Write
There are certain writing tips for a left-handed child that can help him develop the skillset and a level of comfort in handling a pen and writing easily.
1. Let Him Use Both Hands For a While
It may take your child a while before he starts preferring one hand over the other. Therefore, let him use both his hands until he makes a choice.
2. Hold the Pencil Properly
Teach your child to use the tripod grasp by pinching the pencil with the thumb and index finger, and using the third finger for support below.
3. Position the Hand Correctly
Let him start holding the fingers above the tip so that he doesn’t have to flick his wrist to see what he has written.
4. Don’t Get Specialised Equipment
Except for scissors, don’t disable your child by getting him special pencils meant for left-handed kids, unless deemed necessary by a paediatrician.
5. Proper Positioning of the Paper
Left-handed kids ought to keep the paper on their left side so that they can easily see what they are writing and be quick at it.
You don’t need to be a left-handed person in order to understand your left-handed child’s challenges in the world. Give him the right guidance and accept him for who he is, for that will be the best support he can rely on to overcome any challenge in his life.