My husband is left-handed. My two children are left-handed. And then there is me, the minority, trying to co-exist peacefully with them while using my clearly inferior right hand.
Do you know how difficult it can be for a right-handed Mom to teach her left-handed kids to do things like tying their shoes or (gulp) writing?
If you’re reading this post while pulling your hair out with your right hand, you probably do.
Below I’m sharing ALL the information I’ve gathered about parenting a lefty. I want to raise my kids to LOVE being a lefty so I’m trying to make sure I know what I’m doing.
Many say the most daunting task in parenting a left-handed child is teaching them to write. Amen! You’ll find LOTS of answers and advice on that subject at the end of this post. (affiliate links included)
Interesting Facts About Lefties
August 13th is International Left Handers Day.
About 10% of the world’s population is left-handed.
Of the seven most recent U.S Presidents, 4 were left handed.
Some researchers believe that about 25% of the time the gene for left-handedness is inherited from the Father’s side.
Identical twins can have different dominant hands.
Nails grow faster on the left hand than the right. (People who are right-handed have nails that grow faster on that hand.)
Babies usually start showing a hand preference at about 7 to 9 months old, but parents can’t be entirely sure until around the time they start kindergarten.
The Benefits of Being a Lefty
The right side of the brain controls the left hand, and is also responsible for music, art, perception and emotion. There are large numbers of left-handed students and professors in schools of architecture, music and math.
Unfortunately too many lefties give up on these kinds of activities because of stress. Why? The instruments and the tools they need are designed for right-handed people. (The good news is you can purchase the correct tools for southpaws.)
In baseball, left-handed pitchers are always in high-demand.
Your left-handed kiddo is probably pretty artistic, or creative, or imaginative.
Po from Kung Fu Panda is a lefty, as are Disney’s Mulan, Rapunzel in Tangled and MLP Fluttershy.
Around 20% of all Mensa members are left-handed. Some researchers believe the genius comes from being forced to use both sides of the brain more often.
Lefties’ eyes adjust easier to seeing underwater. Scientists are not sure why.
Left-handed people often have an easier time learning to drive.
The Challenges of Left-Handed Children
They truly live in a right-handed world. Parents can begin to understand how frustrating it can be for their kiddo by practicing doing things with their left hand. That’s the best way to feel how your child experiences the world around them.
Doors of all kinds can be sneaky. Your child may often “run over” their foot with a door (like opening a refrigerator).
Regulars scissors are not going to “cut it.” Lefties need left-handed scissors. If your child’s teacher doesn’t have them, buy them and take them to school. Right-handed scissors are nearly impossible for them to use. Lefty scissors allow kids to see where they are cutting and cut cleanly without folding or bending the paper.
Desks & notebooks can be difficult. Spiral notebooks present a problem and desks meant for right-handed kids are trouble.
Sitting beside righties is a pain. As soon as they understand, teach them to sit on the left so they don’t bump elbows.
The mouse on a computer is tough. You can switch the settings on computers to make a mouse or cursor easier for a lefty.
Learning to tie your shoes can be super difficult. When you’re teaching your left-handed child to tie their shoes try to stay away from giving directions like “left or right.”
Instead use the bunny ears method of tying shoes. Be sure to position yourself opposite your child instead of next to her so she can mirror your movements. (Here is an excellent tutorial.)
Teaching Your Left-Handed Child to Write
Studies say the biggest cause of stress for them is learning to write.
Their hand covers their work as they write. Everything gets smudged. Their writing is obscured by their hand.
Here are some of the best tips for teaching a left-handed child to write:
Make sure teachers know your child is a leftie. Teach your son or daughter to say, “I’m a leftie.”
The left-handed “hook” you often see in adult lefties is actually the result of never having learned to properly hold a pencil. Left-handers do this because they are trying to see what they are writing and not smear it.
Teach your lefty to hold the pencil about an inch and a half above the tip of the pencil. They’ll be able to see what they’re writing and will be less likely to develop the “lefty hook.”
A good way to help them remember where to put their fingers is to mark the spot on the pencil with a marker or a sticker.
Remind them not to hold the pencil too tightly.
The “Tri-Grip” is super important. This means the pencil rests comfortably in the triangle of the thumb, forefinger and middle finger. Here is a fantastic tutorial to help. (Ask if your child’s teacher is working on this at school at well.)
Make sure pencils and crayons are always sharp. It will help them move along the paper easier.
Left-handed people move the paper toward their body which causes their own body to get in the way. Teach them it’s a good idea to move the paper around as they write. Have the top left corner of the paper higher than the right and the paper itself to their left.
Their right hand should hold the paper still as they write. They can be frustrated when their paper keeps moving all around.
Your kiddo may create letters differently than you do. They may, for example, dot the i before drawing it or draw an S from the bottom up. It’s totally okay.
As you are teaching your kiddo how to write letters, make sure the example they are looking at is above them or on their right side so they can actually see it.
Papers that put the model letter on the left are harder for lefties. It can be cause for more mistakes than right-handed kids and it may mean it takes them longer to finish as well.
If you have tips about raising left-handed children, I would LOVE it if you’d share. I’m learning every day and I could use all the help I can get!
Liz is a just a mom trying to keep it real about how little she sleeps, how often she gets puked on and how much she loves them. You can find her here every day writing about real-mom moments.