Facebook Pixel

The Challenges of Raising a Left-Handed Child

By HERWriter
Rate This
challenges raising your left-handed child MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

How Many Lefties are Among Us?

Statistics show that about 1 out of every 10 people worldwide are left-handed.

James T. deKay, author of The Natural Superiority of the Left-Hander, says, “[I]f both parents are left-handed, there’s a good chance that 50 percent of their children will be left-handed, too. But if neither parent is a lefty, the probability shrinks to only 2 percent.”

Famous lefties include Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Julius Caesar, Winston Churchill and Barack Obama.

How Will I Know if my Child is Left-handed?

Some parents will be able to tell which hand a child prefers by as young as age 3 but for most, this happens around age 5. (2)

A quick left-handed test is just to watch which hand your child uses to handle a spoon, or pick up and throw or roll a ball.

Challenges and Advantages for Left-handed Children

Perhaps one of the lingering challenges is the historical view that being left-handed was a bad thing. I still hear conversations amongst some of my parenting friends about whether or not they should try to teach their lefty to be a righty.

Gina Landfair, an occupational therapist at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, says, “ ‘[D]on’t force a round peg into a square hole. If you suspect your child’s a lefty, don’t attempt to transform him into a righty. This just causes more problems later.’” (2)

It can also cause physiological problems as in the case of my uncle who was forced by his teachers to use his right hand instead of his left, and it actually gave him migraines and made him throw up.

Writing presents a challenge in terms of:

• Positioning of the paper – Lefties cannot write on paper positioned vertically. It needs to be tilted.

• Grip on the pen/pencil – Lefties tend to use a “hook” kind of grasp so they can see what they’re writing, but should be encouraged not to do that

• Smearing ink – Be sure to buy quick drying pens and watch out for markers as lefties will smear the ink across the page as they write.

• Computer use – Your child will need a left-handed mouse.

You can read more writing tips in this article Tips for Raising a Lefty.

Many daily activities can also present challenges most of us wouldn’t think of such as:

• Tying shoes – Try demonstrating shoe tying in a mirror, so your child can see how it’s done. It’s also an idea for your child to practice tying the shoes with them off, and then with them on. (2)

• Cutting with scissors and crafts – Your child will need scissors especially made for lefties. Tri-tip crayons and pencil grips will help your child with craft implements designed for right-handers. You can see more tips on that in Help for left handed children.

• Playing a musical instrument or sports – Left-handed guitars are available and piano is a two-handed affair, though the dominant hand will be playing the bass instead of the melody. Kind of confusing.

Tennis, baseball and hockey all offer equipment for lefties, and soccer doesn’t require any kind of specialized lefty-versus-righty equipment.

• In the kitchen – Hand-cranking can openers are designed for right-handed people. Electric or “over-the-top” can openers are lefty-friendly options.

• Buttons and zippers – Girls clothes traditionally have the zippers and buttons made for right-handers, and boys for left-handers.

Lastly, we really need to help lefties take full advantage of the strengths that come from being left-handed.

“Research suggests the right hemisphere of the brain is dominant in left-handers” and show advantages in spatial awareness and perception that come in handy in sports and other activities “demanding rapid reactions and good spatial judgment such as tennis and fencing. Many also seem to excel in other right hemisphere functions such as visual concepts, creativity and music.” (5)

So, let your lefty be a lefty and discover a new world with your child.


1. Raising a Left-Handed Child in a Right-Handed World. Stevens, Cara. Parents.com. Web. Accessed: Mar 31, 2014

2. Tips for Teaching a Left-handed Child. Douglass Fliess, Sue. Education.com. Web. Accessed: Mar 31, 2014.

3. Help for left handed children. Anything Left Handed. Web. Accessed: Mar 31, 2014.

4. Raising a lefty. Murray Giles, Caitlin. Chicago Parent. Web. Accessed: Mar 31, 2014.

5. Tips for Raising a Lefty. Ripton, Nancy. Canadian Family. Web. Accessed: Mar 31, 2014.

Reviewed April 1, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment20 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I am a proud leftie. I do two things left handed-write and eat. I learned to do everything else right-handed because I grew up in a right handed family. You learn to adapt and it's no big deal. I am thankful no one ever tried to make me right-handed.

April 9, 2015 - 7:03pm
EmpowHER Guest

As a left handed person, the only adaptation I have ever found useful is spiral notebooks with the spiral on top rather than down the left side. It's not as if our right hands are lumps of clay with no coordination. To say "your lefty WILL need this" or "WILL NOT" be able to do this" is just a little over dramatic.

April 4, 2015 - 8:14am
EmpowHER Guest

As a left handed person I actually do tilt my paper and have had many people comment on it. I'm not sure why writing with a 'hook' hand should be discouraged. I do happen to write with my hand curled around sometimes. I do have to say this article had me wondering if it was written a little Tongue in cheek because some things struck me a kind of ridiculous. I do not require special pens, pencils or markers. I use the same potato peeler, can opener and scissors as any right handed person would use. I have attempted to used a mouse in my left hand and it was like holding a toothbrush with my foot. If I was accustomed to using a mouse with my left hand, I would likely be unable to use anyone else's computer. We left handed people get by just fine. We figure it out and are able to function in society as adults. Don't worry about your left handed child. He/she will be just fine.

March 21, 2015 - 10:24am
EmpowHER Guest

I'm left handed.

There are no challenges to being left-handed in today's society.

Even implying that being left-handed is a challenge is akin to saying it's hard to be 5'8" tall in this world.

It's a non-issue.

March 12, 2015 - 11:38am
EmpowHER Guest

My mom, twin sister and I are all left handed. We are all proud to write and or play sports with our left hand. Lefties are as smart as eighties.

February 16, 2015 - 11:38pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Never said they weren't or that anybody should be ashamed to be a lefty.

March 13, 2015 - 8:56am
EmpowHER Guest

Left-handed people do NOT need special scissors. I am left-handed; my husband is left-handed; and one of my brothers is also left-handed. None of us use left-handed scissors. Teach your child (left or right handed) to always CUT AWAY from their body; scissors pointing away. That is a very important safety issue. Then lefties have the advantage because their right hand is cutting away from their body, holding the scissors straight, and their more talented left hand is controlling the intricate turns of the paper while it is being cut.

February 15, 2015 - 6:08pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Interesting perspective. Not everybody has that kind of coordination with their right hand. I actually learned to use both hands to do many things (I'm right handed), but there are still some things I can't do and one is using scissors with my left hand.


I had an uncle who was growing up in a time when teachers were trying to teach left-handed students to do things with their left hands and it made him physically ill.


But good tip on how to use normal scissors for those who can.

March 7, 2015 - 6:51am
EmpowHER Guest

Interestingly, when I tried to rate this article, malware attempted to install. Now I really feel a certain way about the validity here.

February 10, 2015 - 4:03pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

I will have the tech guys look into this.

March 7, 2015 - 6:53am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



Get Email Updates

Parenting Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!