How to help your left-handed child

Being left-handed doesn’t mean junior is at a disadvantage. Learn ways to help him cope with his unique quality.

Ten per cent ― this is how many of the world’s population are left-handed. As a left-hander and a member of the minority, your mini-me will need to learn how to adapt in a right-handed world.

Right-handers will find it tough to imagine that even the simplest things can prove challenging to our leftie pals. For instance, Irene Low’s left-handed preschooler used to struggle to tap his card when entering the MRT station. Says the 34-year-old, “All the EZ-Link readers are positioned to the right of the gantry. So, I had to remind him a few times to place his card in his right pocket instead of the left to make things easier.”

Also, basic etiquette like using the right hand to shake someone’s hand may not come naturally to your left-handed child. Also, game controllers are designed for people who are right-handed.

Sara Yeow, an occupational therapist with KIDZ Pediatric Occupational Therapy Consultants,  notes while some toddlers may show their handedness ― the tendency to use either the right or the left hand more naturally than the other ― as early as age 1. Others may only start favouring one hand at age 2 and 3 and more confidently by 4 or 5 years, when they start writing. Some of the signs that may point to your kid’s left-handedness include:

-          Approaching or receiving objects with their left hand, even though the item may be on their right.

-          Preferring to throw or catch a ball with their left hand.

-          Stepping up or down a ladder or stairs with the left foot first.

-          Pressing down on the paddles of a bike with the left foot first.

“Training a child to be ambidextrous when he or she is not neurologically so, will just cause the brain to be confused and [cause] the two hemispheres of the brain [to be] competing.”

While the best solution may be to either forbid your kid from being left-handed by forcing him to use his right hand or become ambidextrous — ability to use both the right and left hands — don’t. Yeow explains, “Training a child to be ambidextrous when he or she is not neurologically so, will just cause the brain to be confused and [cause] the two hemispheres of the brain [to be] competing.”

Worse, Yeow points out that learning to become ambidextrous may also affect your child’s coordination. “This may cause an overall decline in processing, memory functions and tasks that require sequencing.”

So, here are useful pointers to help your child overcome the challenges of being a leftie…

Challenge #1: Cutting with scissors

WHAT When a left-hander uses a pair of scissors meant for right-handers, they will need to push the thumb and their index finger together in an unnatural manner in order to snip something. Often, such cuttings are not as clean as if they’d used left-handed scissors ― while also leaving unsightly marks on their hand.

SOLUTION While most manufacturers claim that their products are suitable for everyone’s use, it’s better to get your child a pair of left-handed scissors. Left-handed scissors will allow him to be able to see where he needs to cut. The scissors won’t just rest more comfortably around his thumbs, the blades will perform as they are supposed to.

Tips on how to handle the challenges of tying his shoelaces…next!