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Supporting your left-handed child

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

Around 10% of the population are left-handed, and there seems to be some conflicting information as to why. Some say it can be genetic, some say it is pre determined in the womb, while others state it is to do with the way the brain develops.

Whatever the reason, if you are left-handed, or have a left-handed child, you will know that living in a predominately right-handed world, can sometimes be tricky.

For many years, being left-handed was consider something to be ashamed of and children were often forced to use their right hand. Obviously, things have moved on somewhat, but like other differences in children, it is not necessary to point it out, instead help make it be as normal as being right handed is.

From experience, it is as children reach school where they start noticing that they are perhaps the only left-handed child in a class, finding learning to write more difficult or using scissors really tricky.

Left-handed children have to pull the pencil/pen across the paper to write, rather than push it across, like right-handed children. This can cause fatigue and means that their writing can be easily smudged, and is often quite messy.

It is helpful to encourage a good hand grip on the pen/pencil by keeping the arm straight, as left-handed people tend to 'hook' their hand around instead, using a pencil grip can help with this too. Also, keeping pencils sharp will help them to glide across the paper more easily.

You can tilt the paper to the right to help avoid smudging and instead of using a finger to space words, try getting your child to imagine an O in between words instead.

Some everyday tasks can also pose a problem, such as opening a tin and as mentioned above, using scissors. The good news is, there are now various bits of kit that can help with this, easily bought from online retailers, and I would advise investing in these things to help make life easier.

Leftys tend to hold their knife and fork in opposite hands to right handed, this shouldn't be discouraged and it is important to remember when trying to teach your child how to eat with cutlery, to teach them the correct way for them.

Tying shoelaces, knitting or sewing, can be tricky to teach to a lefty if you are a right-hander, and from experience with my own leftie child, sitting opposite them, so they can learn as though looking in a mirror really helps. There is also a great free download here to help with tying laces.

If your child is worried that being left-handed makes them different, you can tell them how some of the most successful people are too, such as Tom Cruise, Sir Paul McCartney and Prince William.

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