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How do you know if your child is left-handed?

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My husband and I both have "lefties" in our famlilies but we are both right handed.  My daughter switched back and forth for awhile but she is decidedy riight handed as well.  My son, I'm not so sure about.  He basically does everything with his left hand except for things that I taught him how to do.  I didn't force him to use his right hand but he cuts and tries to write with his right hand.  He uses scissors beautifully for a four and a half year old, so that isn't my concern.  However, he is getting frustrated with trying to write.  He usually picks up the pencil with his right hand, so I was trying to teach him how to hold it, but it seems awkward and he usually ends up in tears.  One day, he picked it up with his left hand and then got upset that he was using "the wrong hand" and switched.  I told him if he wants to write with his left that is fine, and he just put his head down and cried.

I don't want to frustrate him.  I'm not pushing the writing but it is something he wants to do but it always ends in tears.  I just don't know how to tell if he is indeed left handed and how to teach him to write if he is.  My mother-in-law is very against kids writing left handed and forced all her children to write right-handed even though at least 1 says that he was left-handed before she made him change and he is still upset about it in his 30's.  I don't know if some of the frustration is because she told DS that he must use his right hand and since he is still young he is still figuring it out.

Sorry to ramble, I just don't know what to do.  He loves "doing school" otherwise and always wants to do things even if I tell him he is finished.  I don't want this to put a damper on the whole process.  Thanks.

ETA:  My son is 4.5 years old for those who have asked.  I remember as a kid my grandfather saying how he was bullied in school and had his hand tied behind his back.  So, I would never force a child to be one way or another as far as which hand to use.

Also, my son is language delayed and did not start talking until after 3.  There were many factors, mostly he had constant ear infections and lost over 9 months of hearing in a little over 2 years.  So, he is catching up quickly and I think sometimes he stil has a bit of the frustration left over from when he couldn't talk when it comes to communicating.  He is already starting to read and still has some speach issues but is doing amazingly well considering.

Thank you for all your help.  If anyone has any ideas of what I could do with him to take the pressure of writing off or even to allow him to experiment more, I'd appreciate it.  My daughter switched a lot but once she started writing she was decidedly right handed and never looked back.  I don't really have any experience with teaching lefties.  I was looking at pencil grips to make it easier for him, but the all seem to be right handed--althought I have no idea if they are or not.  Thanks.

by on Apr. 22, 2013 at 8:59 AM
Replies (11-14):
katetheredhead
by on Apr. 23, 2013 at 9:44 AM

2 of my 4 older brothers are lefties, my parents are both righties. My Mom was adamant that I not be left handed, bc when my brothers were young, there were no left handed scissors or desks and in general the world is made for right handed people. I was held back in kindergarten for poor fine motor skills....fast forward until I was 16 years old and had a really bad car wreck. I had severe memory loss and a brain bruise...after days and days of neurological tests, the neurologists was going over things with my parents and off handedly mentioned that I was left handed....my Mom told him he was absolutely incorrect. He politely showed her all of the excercises that had led him to that conclusion...simple things like picking up a block, or reaching to touch something....then he asked me to write my name for her...although I didn't remember my name fully and spelled it incorrectly...I wrote it with my left hand!  And as all of my therapies began, I absolutely am left handed...my brain knew instinctually, when I had lost several years of memory and basic life skills. This probably doesn't help much, I guess my point is, he will eventually pick which works best for him. I think it literally is at our core, I was made to be right handed for 16 years...after my wreck, I do everything left handed. And I am much better at pool, shooting a gun, hitting a ball with a bat....all of those things, bc I am doing it the way my mind finds most comfortable!

Rust.n.Gears
by on Apr. 23, 2013 at 9:51 AM

I was born left handed and forced right when I was in grade school. You can tell because it hurts to use the wrong hand. Your child will go to the hand that feels comfortable if they are allowed. I had a teacher force my arm against my body by wrapping a belt around me. I cried when she told me I had to write with the other hand or I couldn't go to recess or to art or to anything. I finally did it because I had to. I couldn't speak so there was no way to tell my parents that the teacher was doing this.

If your child is comfortably doing the work with a certain hand then yeah it is probably comfortable for him. Why would he do it otherwise? My cousin is naturally ambidexturous. I watched her switch between hands because one hand got tired. I learned to do the same thing. I would use my right hand in school and my left hand at home. That is why my parents didn't know for a long time that I was forced right.

Just listen to your childs actions. He is telling you the right answer. The kids usually communicate these things to use easily. We just have to see it.

jak3739
by on Apr. 23, 2013 at 2:10 PM

 Her ex husband is a lefty, so that may be why.  My husband says that for many sports he plays left handed and used to go to the shooting range for rifle practice as a teenager and was taught to shoot left handed because he couldn't do it right handed.  So, he may actually be a leftie as well.


Quoting tuffymama:

My ODS is fairly ambidextrous. Credible studies have shown that children forcibly switched from left to right more often make depressed adults than those allowed to continue as lefties. That's enough of a push for me to leave it alone. Your MIL is functioning under some archaic notion that lefties are of the devil. Left-handers were even put to death or tortured in several cultures at some points in history. Tell her to step into this century and realize SHE is the boogeyman to her grandson, not his left-handedness to her.


 

jak3739
by on Apr. 23, 2013 at 2:15 PM

 My MIL spends a lot of time with the kids, without me.  She babysits at least 6 hours a week while I work and my daughter does her school work with her.  I don't know what she may have said but I know that she gave me a really long lecture recently about not letting kids be lefties and I had to train him to use the right hand.  DS did says Grammy has been teaching him how to hold the pencil the "right way."

I have always been fine either way.  He is very hands on and loves to build, he switches tools from hand to hand and I just let it go.  I think the write is just very hard for him and he just wants to do it because his sister does.  He is sensitive but not overly perfectionist.  It was never an issue until recently.  He did not color or write for a long while and was just discovering it.  I think perhaps he was not ready for "proper holidng" and definitly is not ready to use only one hand, but thanks for your insight.


Quoting KrissyKC:

Might your MIL have had some time with him to get him so upset when he writes with the "wrong" hand.. because he sounds a little too over stressed about it.   Or do you think it's just because you guys are right handed.

Maybe you can google some famous right and left handed people and show him some examples of people who are very successful both right or left handed.  

He also could have that type of personality where everything has to be "just" so... if things are different or not 100% up to his standards, (a little bit of perfectionism), then these type of kids get really upset.

I also knew a 4 yr old that was very advanced academically and she cut REALLY well.   In fact, her favorite activity was cutting.   She would sit for hours at my house (when I babysat her) and just cut up paper and glue it onto something.   She would color some, but mainly cutting.    She got upset when there was change, didn't really want to play with other kids (only wanted the adults attention), had problems eating... she didn't write much yet either.

Mom had her tested and found out she was mildly autistic.  (although, I wonder if that's not over diagnosed these days)...

 


 

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