Is My Child a Righty or Lefty?
A few days ago, my 5 year old son excitedly unwrapped one of his birthday presents that we had been hiding away for nearly two months. It was a baseball glove. I’m not exactly sure how he found it, but he did, and my husband was eagerly encouraging him to open it so they could play catch. I turned to my husband and said “I thought we weren’t opening the glove in case we have to return it.” My husband’s response was “I’m sure he’s a righty.” So off they went to play catch. On the first throw, my son used his right hand just as my husband predicted. For the second throw, however, my son took off his glove and threw lefty. And this is the problem…
How Do You Tell if Your Child is Right-handed or Left-handed?
On a recent mini golf outing my son putted righty and then putted lefty. And just a few months ago while playing t-ball in the driveway, my husband called me over to watch my son bat righty. He did. But by the third at-bat, he switched and batted lefty. He eats lefty…and righty. He writes lefty… and righty. In the spring we asked his teachers at Bright Horizons and they too noticed he switches hands but also said this behavior was normal, that some kids take longer to favor a hand and that we should be patient. A friend of mine who is an Occupational Therapist told me kids have until age 6 to determine dominance. While about 50% of kids show a dominant hand by age 3, the other 50% do not. We often hear about the “4 ½ year old marker age” because most kids are in Kindergarten by age 5. The demands to write have increased so much in the past 20 years that the kids who haven’t decided which hand to use are at a disadvantage.
We’ve tried a few of her recommended tricks like trying to put everything dead center to him. Meaning the silverware at the top of the plate or the toothbrush right in front of him and then watching to see which one he uses to grab first. But he always seems to switch.
Tips for Left-handed Children
When I asked some friends for tips about this interesting dilemma and about left-handedness in particular I also got some great ideas:
- I am always handing my daughter a fork or spoon to her right hand without thinking. Most of the time she switches to her left but sometimes she just uses her right. I don’t think it’s a bad thing because using your non-dominate hand for stuff is good for everyone, it challenges your brain.
- Consider buying left-handed scissors. Craft scissors are great too because they have no slant so you can use them with either hand.
- Place their drink on the left, at least initially, to try and eliminate spilled drinks at dinner.
- Can openers are sold for lefties too, although your child probably doesn’t need to worry about that now.
- When writing, lefties should be able to turn their paper, so the bottom right corner points toward their stomach (to their comfort level) you want them develop a good grip, so they don’t get a hooked wrist. Also, this may help prevent some of the ink smudging, which lefties tend to do because of the way their hand follows the ink as they write.
- You want your child to get used to understanding that each side of his body has a job. If he is a lefty, show him that his left hand is the writing hand, and his right hand is the “helper” hand for positioning paper. Or his left hand pours the milk, while right hold the cup.
- Here are some more early signs that will help you determine if your child will be a righty or a lefty.
- And here are some additional great tips on how to raise a left-handed child that I’ve discovered in my recent research.
As for my son, are we worried about when we will finally determine if he’s a lefty or a righty? Not really. He’s heading to Kindergarten in a few weeks and I’m pretty sure we’ll figure out the dominant hand soon enough. And then it will be off to the sporting goods store so we can finally buy him the appropriate equipment!
Oh and one last thing. Mark your calendar! August 13 is International Left-Hander’s Day.