If you are a right-handed person, you probably don’t think twice about how you write, cook, or perform regular hand functions. When you are a leftie, it takes a bit more work and concentration. Humans have evolved as a right-handed dominant species. Even ancient fossils show that our early ancestors were predominantly right handed. And thus the world tailors to righties. Everything from kitchen utensils, pens and most school desks, to pant zippers, faucets and instruments are designed for right-handed people. Today we’re looking at qualities of left handed children and how you can help them grow and thrive using their dominant hand.
Left-handed people make up around 10% of the population. About one percent of people are truly ambidextrous and the rest are right-handed. Lefties are twice as likely to be boys as girls and mothers who have their babies over 40 are highly more likely to have left-handed babies. Babies may show their first signs of left-handedness when they turn their heads a certain direction in response to sound, sights or vibrations. However, children usually don’t show their true dominance until they are school age. Until recently, left-handedness was highly discouraged because it seemed abnormal and more difficult. In some ways that assessment is not wrong, however now psychology tells us not to try to change a person’s predilections of this nature.
The Advantages of Being Left-Handed
Left-handed people are believed to be better at math and architecture, more creative, and tend to pursue creative careers. Studies show that left-handed college graduates tend to make more money than right-handed counterparts. In fact, their success is proven in the U.S. government as four of the last seven presidents have been left-handed men. Lefties tend to be better at multi-tasking and have to become better independent problem-solvers to account for everyday modifications in a right-handed world. Also, left-handed people are better at certain upper-body and face-to-face sports such as baseball, tennis, golf, boxing and swimming. This is because they can often surprise their opponents who have less practice against left-handed players.
The Disadvantages of Being Left-Handed
Besides having to adapt to a right-handed world, lefties tend to have certain characteristics that may cause health problems. As a whole they are more prone to bipoloar disorder and schizophrenia, alcoholism and anger management issues. They are shy and more likely to scare easily. Because lefties favor the right hemisphere of the brain rather than the left where language and fine motor skills are controlled, left-handers have more incidences of speech impediments, stuttering and dyslexia, and consider themselves more clumsy. Those with a left-hand dominance also show increased risk of migraine headaches, insomnia, allergies, asthma and ADHD.
Tips for Parents of Left-Handed Children
The first step in parenting a well-adjusted left-handed child is recognizing the challenges she faces and understanding that her brain works differently. Often her brain is more flexible because the two hemispheres are constantly having to communicate with one another to make accommodations. Support your child as much as possible and even verbalize times when you see it is frustrating for her to do something meant for a right-handed person.
Buy supplies that suit your left-handed child and set up spaces that are appropriate for their hand dominance. This may mean re-orienting a room to match her spatial needs. Also, buy left-handed scissors, instruments, baseball gloves and whatever else your child may need to pursue their interests. Don’t let her handedness stand in the way of being successful. Also, research how to teach your child proper sports stances for lefties. It may be confusing to you because, for instance, what looks like a forehand, is their backhand, and vice versa.
Writing can be especially difficult for lefties. Let them do what comes naturally, even if that is not the traditional way. As long as writing it legible, it should be fine. Invest in left-handed pencil grips, triangle shaped pencils and crayons and a great sharpener. (Sharper writing utensils are easier for left-handed children to use.)
Lastly, give your child lots of praise for the ways in which she is unique. When left-handedness is at her advantage, point it out to her so she can feel proud. Help your leftie embrace what is wonderful about her traits. You can also share the many successful people throughout history who have thrived as left-handers.