What causes children to be left-handed?
In 2007, scientist Clyde Francks discovered a gene responsible for handedness. He named this gene LRRTM1, and he determined that it is passed down from the father. He believes this gene is responsible for making children left-handed or right-handed.
The two sides of the brain have very specific functions. According to an article published in Psychology Today, the left side of the brain is typically where we find the function of language.
The author explains that the idea of left-handed children being right-brain dominant is a myth. “Among right-handers, left-sided dominance for language approaches upwards of 95 percent prevalence.
However, among left-handed people, this drops to 70 percent, with the others either having language localized to the right hemisphere or spread evenly across both hemispheres.” Other scientific literature also finds that left-handedness does not mean right-brain dominance.
How to tell if your baby is left-handed
During the first year of life, babies develop rapidly. They are discovering new things, reaching, touching, and picking things up with both hands. If babies are using only one hand at this age, it might be an indication of a developmental delay or a possible neurological condition. Make sure to speak with your pediatrician if you’re concerned.
By the time that your baby reaches two to three years old, they have probably developed a preference for one hand or the other. So, how do you tell if your baby is left-handed? There are some signs of left-handedness that can be identified at this age.
One of the first signs you’ll notice is during normal daily activities like eating. If you place a bowl and spoon in front of your left-handed toddler, they will support the bowl with their right hand (non-dominant) and eat with their spoon in their left hand (dominant).
As your left-handed baby gets older, you will notice that they will stir food or drinks in a clockwise direction. They will begin to color and draw with their left hand and tend to kick a ball with their left foot. You will start to notice that as they get older and develop fine motor skills, they will use their left hand more each day.
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In a right-handed world, you might not think that left-handed children have an advantage, but they do — particularly for sports! Sports that require opponents to “face-off” against each other, like tennis and boxing, give left-handers an advantage. The left-handed person is used to facing right-handed people on a regular basis, but the same is not true for their opponents.
Left-handed children also tend to develop more skills with their non-dominant hand because of living in a right-hand dominant world. At some point in their life, they will need to learn how to adapt to a world in which 90% of the people are different from them. This means they pick up adaptive skills that right-handed kids usually don’t.
Five tips for raising a left-handed baby
There are certain things that you can do to help your left-handed baby. Here we will look at a few tips that will help them develop necessary skills and overcome challenges that they might face.
1. Make them confident
Left-handed children are no different from right-handed children, and they should be shown and told that. Just because they do certain skills with their left hand, it does not make them inferior. In fact, they are unique. Only 10% of the population has this ability, and they are a part of this small special group!
2. Help them adjust
Your child may struggle with learning certain skills, especially if they are being raised in a family that is right-hand dominant. These can include buttoning clothes, trying to tie their shoelaces, using scissors, etc. If you are raising a left-handed baby, start early by learning how to do these things left-handed yourself. It will be much easier to teach your child if you can do these things already. There are also many different educational tools available that can help you and your child.
3. Encourage their special skills
This category applies to any child. You should always encourage their special skills. This helps build confidence and self-esteem. For left-handed children, encourage use of the left hand, but allow them to determine what things they choose to do with each hand. Some children will become so efficient that they use their left hand to write but can do most other activities with both hands.
4. Teach them how to write
Teaching a left-handed child how to write can be very challenging for parents who are right-handed. Typical notebooks are not designed for left-handed children, making it difficult for them to correctly place their hand. If possible, always allow them to use a single sheet of paper to write on an angle with the upper right corner toward their body.
Encourage them to keep their wrist straight and hold their hand below the area of writing. Be sure that they are gripping the pen, pencil, or crayon far enough down from the point. This allows for natural hand placement and movement while forming letters and words, to be able to see what they are writing and not smear the text.
5. Don’t influence their hand preference
Never discourage a child from determining whether they will be left-handed or right-handed. Forcing a child to use their non-dominant hand creates unnecessary frustration. Being left-handed is just another special trait that makes your child who they are.