5 ways to help your left-handed child thrive

Use these handy hints to help your little leftie embrace her uniqueness and succeed in a world designed for righties.

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Stay-at-home mum Carina Lim, 33, had an inkling that her daughter Abby might be left-handed when she noticed that her tot always used her left hand to reach for her pacifier.

She adds, “Abby would use her left hand to insert and pull the pacifier out from her mouth. When she was older, she would use her left hand to feed herself.” Now aged 5 and a confirmed leftie, Abby writes with her left hand and uses it to eat, for sports , as well as for craft work. Although surprised at first, her right-handed parents did not attempt to convert her into a rightie.

Lim states, “Abby’s great grandmother seemed to view her left-handedness as a disadvantage or weakness, but to us, it does not make any difference whether she is right- or left-handed.”

Although you may notice that your child favours a certain hand, hand dominance is only confirmed at around ages 5 or 6.

However, it did make a difference to Abby now that she is growing up. She faces several challenges navigating a world where most products are designed for righties. Challenges faced by left-handers like Abby include tying shoelaces, cutting with scissors, fastening buttons and zippers, playing racket games and using a pencil sharpener.

Lim recalls, “Writing was especially challenging for her. She had to learn to position the paper in the way that was best for her. Lefties push when writing while right-handers pull; Abby had to master handwriting strokes that were opposite of what we are used to. The smudging was terrible, too! Her hands would be smeared with ink whenever she used markers, as her hand would rub over what she had just written!”

Suspect you’re raising a leftie? Although you may notice that your child favours a certain hand, hand dominance is only confirmed at around ages 5 or 6. Once you’re sure you are raising a leftie, do keep these things in mind.

1. Acknowledge and encourage

Recognise your child’s left-handedness and encourage his or her uniqueness. Don’t try to influence his or her hand preference as this may merely end up frustrating or confusing the child. Make left-handedness feel like a blessing instead of a bane and introduce your child to famous left-handers like our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and former US Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Entrepreneur Grace Tang, 33, has always encouraged her son Sean Goh, 4, to be comfortable about using his preferred left hand. “Sean has always been kinaesthetic and independent — we have always encouraged this in him. Hence, he has never felt at a disadvantage. Attitude is the most important as we project this on our children. If we appreciate and celebrate their uniqueness, they will never feel that being left-handed is an issue at all.”


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2. Write with them

Learning to write properly is the biggest challenge lefties face when growing up. Hold your child’s hand and write together with him. Unlike right-handers who write with their arm moving away from their body, lefties write with their arm moving toward the body. Teach your child to position her paper effectively, so that her hand does not obscure what she is writing. Angle the paper with the left corner pointed up (right handers tend to angle the right corner of their paper up). In doing so, their writing arm is placed in a natural position where they can move from left to right without having to awkwardly hook their wrist. Buy pens or markers with quick-drying ink to minimise smudging. Assure your child it is all right if her handwriting is not as neat as she would like it to be. Keeping pencils and crayons sharp enables them to glide smoothly across the paper.

Learning to write properly is the biggest challenge lefties face when growing up.

3. Help your kids adjust

Some products in the market are specially made for lefties such as specially designed tri-grip pencils and pens, scissors with fully reversed blades, left-handed notebooks with the bindings on the right, pencil sharpeners that sharpen in an anti-clockwise direction and left-handed rulers. With these handy tools, your child will find it easier to cope with day-to-day activities.

4. Seating preference

At mealtimes, sit to the left of the next person to avoid bumping arms throughout the meal or sit away from the wall.

5. Make it known

Once you confirm that your child has dominance over their left hand, let their teachers know. Teach them to communicate this info to their teachers. Sometimes, they may assume she is right-handed and mistakenly switch her pencil or crayon to the right hand. In today’s modern, educated society, there is less of a stigma that left-handers are weird or weak. Parents, if you’re raising a left-handed kid, don’t try to convert them to become right-handers, nor should you feel stressed that your child is are slower in picking up skills. Patience and lots of repetition are the key to teaching lefties.

Photos: iStock

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