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Tips for Teaching the Ambidextrous Child

written by: Darlene Zagata•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 11/29/2012

Having an ambidextrous child simply means that the child can use both hands with equal dexterity. This article will help you understand handedness in children as well as give you several tips for working with your ambidextrous child.

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    Handedness in Children

    By age three, most children are showing a preference for using one hand over the other. The hand the child uses the most will likely be the dominant hand. Most children will alternate back and forth between hands until they decide which hand they prefer to use. This alternating of hands can make it difficult for parents to determine whether the child is going to be left-handed or right-handed. The ambidextrous child may continue alternating hands longer but often will eventually show a preference, which will become the dominant hand. In the majority of cases, most ambidextrous children are left hand dominant. Left-handed children are often ambidextrous as well.

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    Let the Child Choose Handedness

    The ambidextrous child should be allowed to choose his dominant hand on his own. The child knows which hand he feels most comfortable using. This will be his dominant hand. Even after the child has decided which hand will be his dominant, he may continue to alternate between hands for certain activities. For example, he may color with only his dominant hand or he may switch off, using both hands.

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    Tips for Teaching Left-hand Dominant Children

    Left-handed children often have difficulty grasping writing utensils properly. If the ambidextrous child colors, draws or writes with both hands, he may hold the crayon or pencil differently in each hand. A lefty's hand also tends to skim across the paper as he writes causing the ink or lead to smear. Teaching the child the proper hold as well as slanting the paper or coloring book slightly to the right can make it easier for him to maneuver.

    It may take a little more time for a left-handed child to be able to grasp the concept of handling objects and writing but they do well on their own. The ambidextrous child may seem to work more easily with the right hand yet the left may become the dominant hand. You can give the left-hand dominant ambidextrous child guidance but allow him to develop at his own pace. It has been shown that forcing left-handed child to be right-hand dominant can possibly cause learning problems1. A child should never be forced to use one hand or another.


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