31 answers

Lefty or Righty

I just read a question and answer post about a left handed child. Here's my problem, my son will be 4 in October and he doesn't seem to have a strong preference to either his left or his right hand. I usually just put a crayon or spoon down perpendicular to his body, so as not to influence his choice at all and I would say he has a Slight preference to his right hand and seems to have a little better control with it, but not enough that it is a clear choice... Should I encourage the right hand at this point. Dad is a lefty and I am a right hander.

What can I do next?

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Here is a GREAT TIP, I am a righty myself and my husband is a lefty. We couldn't tell either with my son. BUT a doctor friend told me to watch which foot he puts in his pants first (shoe, shorts, underwear etc) That will 99% of the time tell you which side is dominent without him even knowing what you are doing. And he was right! my son puts his shoes, socks, pants, shorts on first with his left foot everytime. Even to this date. He is eight now and a lefty. Hope that helps!!

He may be ambidextrous. My brother writes with his L hand, but does everything else with his right. My dad is 100% L and my mom is 100% right. I wouldn't spend much time worrying about it or trying to "train" him one way or the other. He'll do what his brain tells him to do.

All my children are ambidextrous... they use both hands... not for the same tasks necessarily, but for different things. They can all use flatware with either hand, can bounce and catch balls with both hands. They have all chosen to write with their right hand, but even my grandchildren do things with both hands... like bowl or play baseball.

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Since your son is not yet 4, it is best to keep doing what you are doing and not encouraging one hand over the other. By allowing him to still switch hands, it actually helps him refine the fine motor skills of both hands better. If he has not established a hand dominance by this time next year, then you may need to start encouraging more consistent use of whichever hand he tends to use more or is more skilled at the time. Many kids are 4-5 yrs. old before establishing a strong hand dominance, and it is best to establish one before starting kindergarten.

N.

Just watch him and let him figure it out. Both my boys were that way, but I didn't sway them in either direction and they both turned into righty's.

I'm a lefty myself, eating and writing with my left, but everything else I use my right...throwing, using scissors, catching, casting a fishing pole...etc.

It all comes down to what they feel is more comfortable for them and how easy it is to pick up...so just watch and encourage him that it doesn't which hand he uses.

My son was the same at that age. His fine motor skills were a little slow developing, but he eventually picked a hand. Don't push one way or another. I am a kindergarten teacher and many kids can use both hands although most do form a preference pretty quickly. Don't worry. I think it would be cool to be able to do things with both hands!

Maybe he doesn't have a dominant hand. I'm like that. I do different activities with different hands. I write, decorate cakes, and eat left handed, but I play sports, brush my teeth and hair, and use scissors right handed.

All my children are ambidextrous... they use both hands... not for the same tasks necessarily, but for different things. They can all use flatware with either hand, can bounce and catch balls with both hands. They have all chosen to write with their right hand, but even my grandchildren do things with both hands... like bowl or play baseball.

Hi! I am an occupational therapist and just wanted to let you know that typically, hand dominance is not completely established/determined until the age of six. I like that you are letting him choose by placing objects perpendicular to him. I am also a mom to a child who was developmentally delayed (slightly) and things like this can become worrisome and drive us moms a little nutty sometimes. Keep up the good work!
God Bless!!

Let him do his own thing. My mom is right handed, my dad left handed. My brother is ambidextrous, he writes with his left hand but still draws with both and was a switch hitter in baseball. I use my left hand for writing but cut with scissors with my right (my dad does this too). I batted left but was a figure skater for many years and skated "right handed". He's only 3, as he gets older he'll figure out he can write more clearly and easily with one hand over the other and naturally gravitate to what is comfortable to him.

My 6 yr old is also mildly ambidextrious. He uses both hands. I hand him things to whatever hand he is using to take it with. He writes w/ a pencil in his right hand, but colors w/ markers crayons w/ his left hand. He switches when he bowls, bats (baseball), brushes his teeth, etc. I just let him do whatever. He tends to prefer his right hand more these days when he's doing his schoolwork, but when he's being creative he uses his left - I think it is so neat and just love to watch him think :)

Here is a GREAT TIP, I am a righty myself and my husband is a lefty. We couldn't tell either with my son. BUT a doctor friend told me to watch which foot he puts in his pants first (shoe, shorts, underwear etc) That will 99% of the time tell you which side is dominent without him even knowing what you are doing. And he was right! my son puts his shoes, socks, pants, shorts on first with his left foot everytime. Even to this date. He is eight now and a lefty. Hope that helps!!

Hi L.. My son was the same way. We had him evaluated by a kindergarten teacher when he was in PreK. I wondered why he did it. She said that when he writes on the right side of the paper he uses his right hand and vice-versa. She told me to just wait and watch. All thru kindergarten he kept switching. Finally, at the end of the year, right around his 6th birthday, he decided on his right hand, but he still bats and kicks left handed. I was stressed about it, thinking that his penmanship would never develop well on one hand if he kept using both hands. But now he is on his way to 2nd grade and does just fine with penmanship. Good Luck.

I am a lefty, and yes, it is a right handed world. But, I feel fortunate for I have had to use and develop parts of my brain that many right handed people don't. I can do alot of things with my right hand as well as my left. My advice is to let him decide, he might be ambidexturous hope I spelled that right.

He may be ambidextrous. My brother writes with his L hand, but does everything else with his right. My dad is 100% L and my mom is 100% right. I wouldn't spend much time worrying about it or trying to "train" him one way or the other. He'll do what his brain tells him to do.

No i wouldnt push a particular side.

I was told by my DD Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist that you wont know what hand your child will end up using until they are about 5 years old. It could also be that your son is Ambedextrus (sp?) uses both hands.

My daughter has a pref. for her Right hand and has so since one year but that is because of Torticollis on her Left side she doesnt use that arm much for things like throwing ball or swimming but will use both hands while eating.

Just give him time no need to rush...he will find out on his own which hand works best for him.

Don't encourage either or. He will work it out on his own. A lot of kids switch hands as teh y grow and realize they ca ndo some thing with one hand better than the other. Using both has many benifits. Some will write right handed but play baseball left. You never know. Enjoy your sons strengths.

L.,
Speaking as someone who works with families whose kids have all sorts of learning disabilities, let me tell you that the WORST thing you can do is push handedness in a 4yo. Some kids do not clearly establish hand dominance until as late as 9. Since handedness is a reflection of how the brain functions as it learns, if you push one side or the other, and the opposite turns out to be his dominant side, he will develop problems learning later.

You are doing ABSOLUTELY the right thing to present items perpendicular to his body, in the center. If he chooses one side one time and the other side the other time, let it go. He will eventually establish a preference for one or the other.

His dominance may show itself in other ways before he figures out his hands. You may notice that he turns his head a certain way to hear you better, or he kicks a ball better with one foot. Eyes, ears, hands, and feet are all part of dominance.

Don't let anyone tell you that he will be ruined for life if you don't get this established immediately. That's just not true. It's common for it to happen way beyond age 4. (I have not read the other posts yet, so I'm not pointing fingers at anyone. I just know some people think that.)

There are "programs" that will tell you that you've got to fix this or you'll ruin him. Not true. They are selling a product (the program). Let it go. Sounds like you have a normal 4yo to me!

Blessings,
P.

My suggestion would be to encourage him to use both hands. I was always right handed until I hurt my right hand and couldn't do anything with it because it was so swollen. During that time I learned to use my left hand to do everything because I got tired of people trying to help me eat, write, etc. I felt helpless. Let him learn to use both hands, that only makes him that much smarter!

When I was young I was completely ambidextrious, but my family promoted the use of only my right hand. I now work in surgery and had to reteach myself to use the left hand as much as the right. There is nothing wrong with your child using both hands, it will only be an advantage later on in life.

Hi L.,

I see that you have already had many responses but I wanted to add my experience to the list. My husband is a lefty, and I am a righty. We have three children, and all three are LEFT handed. It certainly makes me appreciate what it is like to be a lefty since I am in the minority in my own home. My youngest, the boy, took much longer to decide his handed-ness. He eats and writes with his left. He throws left, but bats and golfs right. And he did not make any clear choices to which hand he preferred until after he finished kindergarten. You are doing the right thing by placing utensils and crayons in a neutral spot. I will say it was difficult to watch my children eat with using both hands equally but not necessarily with the same skill. Very messy mealtimes for awhile going back and forth between hands. Just hang in there and he will eventually decide for himself!

Well, he is at the age when children typically prefer one over the other, however there are more people that are ambidextrous than are lefties. I would only encourage one or the other if he is unable to learn to write his letters in school.

No matter which you encourage you child will likely end up picking for himself around age 6 (during Kindergarten or 1st grade). As a teacher I usually encouraged the kids to try the right hand because most things in life are made with the right handed person in mind- so little things are just easier for righty's. However, nothing wrong with being a lefty and if that is the way his brain works- then that's what he'll end up choosing no matter how you encourage him. It can't hurt to encourage right handidness (unless you are belittling him gor lefty moves), so go ahead and encourage and time will tell.

My oldest son was like this. Don't encourage either, just let him keep experimenting. My oldest son will bat left, write right, kick either way. it seemed that he prefered his left until about 4. Then just switched. My youngest went left and never anywhere else, but he bats right and kicks right. Go figure.

My husband is a lefty & me a right hander too. It will come eventually. My husband still complains that they tried to make him right, so do your best to let him choose.

I teach kindergarten, and everything I've read says they should develop a strong hand dominance by age 5-5 1/2, so it sounds like he is developing normally. I would just give him opportunities to strengthen his hands with lots of fine motor activies. (pinching, lacing, tracing, etc)

My husband was the exact same way as far as being ambidextrous at a young age. His mom home-schooled him and she finally chose his right hand for him. He says he's glad she chose the right hand for him b/c so much of the world and everyday things like keyboards... accomodate "righties". He still does a lot of other things left handed though. Left-handed pitchers make more money so I would still encourage left hand activities, lol.

we have the same problem, im a lefty, partner a righty. My mum said she taught me both as my mum was a leftie and my dad a righty. I was taught both but by the time i was about 6 i chose to be a leftie. i can still use both hands equally as good with most things, but with particular things like writting and using scissors, i am far superior with left hand. So, we will teach our daughter both and see which she chooses. I believe its all about choice for the individual. Their brain will tell them which they are better with.

Just adding to what has already been said because I think my husband is not as unusual as people may think; he eats and writes left handed but everything else is right handed! I kept wanting one of our girls to have this issue, but they were right dominant as soon as they started reaching out!

Enjoy your sweet young man!

Sometimes it takes a little while for them to decide. I am a righty, my hubby is a righty, but in elementary school he was a lefty that was changed into a righty, when the schools still did that. We have 3 sons, two righty's and a lefty.
I would give him some more coloring to do with his hands. WHat hand does he throw a ball with? what about eat with? those are good clues. But honestly our lefty uses his right to throw adn shoot his bb gun. But always eats with his left and writes with his left. But it may be until 4-4.5 until his system has decided what side is dominate. Just put him in more situations for his system to choose.
Good luck,
L.

I had the same issue with my little girl. She showed skills in both hands and would even color with the left at times and the right at others. By the time she was 4 1/2 though she was primarily using her right hand for coloring, etc. She still does some things with her left hand and in gymnastics she does everything as a lefty. I wouldn't worry too much about it, he should work out on his own which is more comfortable in the long run, but don't be surprised to see him shifting other things to his left.

Hope that helped a little.

Hi, L.!

My daughter did the exact same thing. Both her teacher and my mother (who used to be an elementary school teacher) told us to wait it out. We were told to foster her ability to choose and encourage her to use both hands. She finally decided this year (2nd grade!!) that she is officially a lefty.

We are so glad we waited - she is comfortable doing things with either hand, whether it is cutting with scissors, playing games, throwing a ball/frisbee, or whatever.

The good news is that she can still write with her right hand, but only if she has to.

Hope this helps!

Please do not encourage wither hand. My youngest son is 7 and still uses both hands. He finally chose his right to write with but when he colors, which ever side of the page he is coloring is the hand he uses. He plays soccer and baseball both right handed/footed. I am a lefty and his daddy is a righty.

Your son may be ambidextrous (sp?) which I think is great so I don't suggest pushing him to favor one hand over the other. If he can use both, let him learn to use both!

Leave the child alone with whatever hand he uses for what.

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