Got a little lefty on your hands? Here are 7 things you might want to know

Posted in Learning and Development.

If you’re left-handed yourself then obviously there’s not much you need to know about this, but given the majority of people are right-handed (90 percent!) if you do find yourself with a child who’s a lefty and you’re a bit clueless as to how it affects them, then you might want to read on.

1. They may not be left-handed

For starters, are you actually sure they’re a lefty? It’s pretty common for babies to lead with both hands initially while they work out which one is more dominant. By 18 months, however, they should start preferring one hand over the other for things like eating and drawing, and by the time they’re three that’s when you’ll know for sure.

2. Scissors will be hard

We’re living in a right-handed world which means that most items are not designed to suit lefties. While most of the time it doesn’t matter so much, the worst offenders are things like scissors, cameras and computer mouses. You can actually buy left-handed scissors and other stationery items to make it easier for them. However, you may find that your lefty prefers to train themselves to use their right hand for these activities instead.

3. Things could get smudgy

Unfortunately, handwriting is one area that can be quite difficult, particularly in the early years when kids are still learning.

In the western world, we write from left to right, which for lefties means that their hand is covering what they’re writing which can make it harder for them – and also super smudgy. And how we’re taught to write letters even, such as forming the letter ‘S’ from the top downwards, and crossing the letter ‘T’ from left to right – is simply because it stops right-handed people from smudging their work (no wonder they used to make lefties use their right hands!).

So feel free to let your left-handed kiddo form their letters a little differently and move their paper around as they write or draw, if it helps them.

Left-handed child tracing letters on a whiteboard - feature

4. Cutlery switch up

When you’re laying the table for dinner you might also want to consider switching the knife and fork around for your lefty. Again, it’s something that’s of personal preference for them though, as not all left-handed people cut with their left hand, so just ask your child which is easiest for them and help them get the hang of it properly.

5. Sports get interesting

What stance or lead you take in sporting activities also has a lot to do with whether you’re right- or left-handed. For example, many lefties kick balls with their left foot and throw with their left hand, which can make sports initially a bit confusing if they’re comparing themselves to other players (who will be mostly right-handed). However, not all lefties lead with their left feet and hands, many still use the right if that’s how they’ve been taught, and some might even do both.

Lefties may also stand ‘goofy’ (right foot forward) on surfboards and skateboards or on the cricket pitch, but if they do, they won’t be so alone as there are many right-handed people who do this too.

When it comes to sports, just let your little one try out both sides and see which feels more natural for them. It’s worth keeping in mind though, that tennis superstar Rafael Nadal plays left-handed, so does champion cricketer Adam Gilchrist.

6. Instruments could be tricky

If your family is quite musical then you might need to restring any guitars you own as many lefties prefer to strum the guitar with their left hand, which means the strings are in reverse order and need to be changed. Drums are another instrument where you may need to change the set up to suit a lefty, positioning the snare, kick drum, etc. on opposite sides.

Remember again that loads of famous lefties have played music, including Paul McCartney, Kurt Cobain and David Bowie.

7. Make them feel good

The main thing with left-handed children is that they feel completely comfortable with the fact they’re in the ten percent and are never made to feel inadequate because of it.

You might even share with them the famous lefties you know – like former US president Barack Obama, billionaire talk show host Oprah Winfrey, billionaire computer genius Bill Gates, billionaire Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg, the late Steve Jobs, (who invented the Apple computer and the smartphone we know today), comedian Will Ferrell, Oscar-winning singer and actress Lady Gaga, and comedy writer and actress Tina Fey – who are all left-handed.

They should also never be forced to use their right hand for something when it doesn’t feel natural to them and makes a task harder. So if you know your child is a lefty be sure to tell any childcare educators, teachers and coaches so they get the support they need.

But judging by the billionaires in the above list, they might end up supporting you.


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