Lefties are all right.

How to Raise a Left-Handed Child

by Tamara Runzel

Is your child a future president of the United States? Maybe the next Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo? Perhaps a World Series MVP-to-be? If he’s left-handed, he might be. Though only about 10 percent of people in the world are left-handed, a number of U.S. presidents, famous artists and exceptional athletes were southpaws. There’s just something special about lefties. As a mom, you can help your left-handed child fit into a righty world.

1 Support your child's right to use whatever hand feels right. Don't try to force her to use a particular hand, and don't let anybody else do that, either. If you have relatives or caregivers with outdated opinions about handedness, let them know they're not to say anything to make your child feel wrong, different, or pressured to switch.

2 Talk to your child about famous people who are southpaws so he thinks being a lefty is cool. An Internet search of terms like "famous left-handers," "left-handed celebrities" or "left-handed athletes" will bring up lots of lists to look over. While you're at it, point out other less-famous lefties to your child, too, such as Cousin Bob or Auntie Jane.

3 Read books about lefties to your little southpaw. "Lefty Louie" is one possibility, and the children's librarian at your local library should be able to steer you toward others. Seek out books for yourself about parenting a lefty, too, such as "Loving Lefties: How to Raise a Left-Handed Child in a Right-Handed World."

4 Face your child whenever you're teaching him to do something such as tie his shoe or zip his coat. It helps him to have the mirror image of what he should do, since he will do it the opposite of you.

5 Teach her how to hold a pencil or crayon correctly. It’s more natural for lefties to hook their fingers around the pencil so they can see what they’re writing. She should hold the pencil between her thumb and first two fingers, just as a right-handed person would. Her hand should be at least two centimeters up on the pencil so she doesn’t smudge her writing. A triangular pencil grip will help her get the right hold.

6 Find practice letter-writing sheets for your left-handed little one. These sheets show adults how to help lefties form their letters, which in some cases will be different than the way righties would learn. You can find sheets online or buy a practice book from a specialty store.

7 Advocate for your child once he heads to preschool. If the preschool doesn't have left-handed scissors, send some to school with your little one. Remind the teacher that it's easier for your child to sit to the left of any righties so he doesn't bump elbows with his table-mates. A higher chair might give him more freedom of movement and also help him see his writing better.

Tip

  • Most kids don't actually choose their dominant hand until 2 to 3 years old, so if you have a toddler, she might still end up a righty.

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