Hand Dominance in Young Children: An Interesting Discussion

Did you know that a person could be Left handed, Right Handed, Mixed Dominant or Ambidextrous?

A lot of people who think they are Ambidextrous are actually what is classified as “Mixed Dominant.” This means you use different hands for different tasks. For Example you might use your left hand for writing and right hand for cutting.

To be a true “Ambidextrous” person, this means that you can perform ALL tasks equally with both hands – this is extremely rare in the general population – but does tend to run in families, as does left handedness. 

Trying to pick the handedness of your young child can be quite difficult!
For some children you can pick their handedness from a very young age – where as others its hard to tell even at 4 years old.

Here are some interesting facts about handedness

1. Not only do you have a preferred hand, but you have a preferred foot, eye, ear and side of your brain. And these don’t all need to match. Some people even have a preferred side of the mouth that they talk through!

2. It is estimated that approximately 90% of the world is right handed. Approximately 10% of the population are left handed but only 10% of this 10% are “pure left handers” I.e. 1% of the population – most left handers use their right hand for some tasks.

3. If you are right handed you have a much higher % of being “pure right” than if you are a left hander (hence right handers are often easier to pick). Left handed people are more likely to be mixed dominant.

4. Left handed people are often later to show/determine their hand dominance.

5. Identical twins can have different a hand dominance (these twins are often referred to as “mirror twins” and are said to have had the egg split later after fertilisation). In general there are a higher percentage of left handedness in twins than the general population – the true understanding of this is unknown but there have been recent links to pre-maturity and left handedness and stress in pregnancy and left handedness. 

6. Left handers are often stronger in their right hand than their left, even though they are left handed (hence why you get a strong percentage of left handers who don’t purely use their left hand – they may use the right hand for strength tasks and left hand for precision tasks) – please note this does not make you ambidextrous, it makes you mixed dominant.

7. The skill of “crossing your midline” is essential for having a hand dominance. When you watch a 6 month old baby pick up toys they will pick items that are on their left side with their left hand and their right side with their right hand. This is because they can’t cross their midline. Until they can cross their midline they continue to use the hand closest to the object.

8. Many cultures around the world still frown upon being left handed (hence their statistics are much lower as they force an ‘unnatural’ dominance). This occurred commonly in Australia up until 1 or 2 generations ago.

9. If you force a child’s dominance they may end up struggling with things like organisation (where to position things for best use), planning (how to move their body in the most proficient way), poor fine motor skills (as the brain is not designed for using this hand with skill) and fatigue.

10. Modern society is not designed for left handed people!
The English alphabet has been designed to be written by right handers – which is why young lefties often have a lot of letter reversals!
Ambidextrous scissors are not ambidextrous – Lefties need ti have the top blade on the left hand side and this only happens in left handed scissors.

There are lots of very impressive Famous Left handed people – Albert Einstein, Barak Obama, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, Neil Armstrong… The list can go on and on! So although left handed people might feel some minor challenges in life occasionally – You should embrace your left handedness and know that you can achieve amazing things!

You are unique and special and today is your day!

A special Happy Left Handers’ Day to my Lefty Son (Who happens to be a premature twin – so he is adding to the statistics above) My Brother (A pure Lefty), My Father (who is in the generation of the ‘unnatural’ dominance) and My Husband (who is mixed dominant!)