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The effects of making a left-hander write right-handed

Natural left-handers should always be left to develop in their own way and be allowed to write left-handed if that is their choice.   Forcing them to change hands and write right-handed can have very bad effects in later life as well as being traumatic at the time and ruining their handwriting!

Brain organisation - left and right hemispheres and hand controlThe dominant writing hand is not just a physical thing to do with controlling a pen but a mental thing to do with the way the brain is organised and where certain functions occur.   The brain is “cross-wired” to the body so the left handed side of the brain controls the right hand side of the body and the right side of the brain controls the left. Changing the hand used for writing causes great confusion in the   brain and can have a lot of knock-on effects.

Here are some articles we have written on this subject:

These are some of the effects people have reported to us from being forced to change their writing hand as a child:
  • Bad handwriting
  • Bed-wetting
  • Stuttering
  • Nail biting
  • Shyness and being withdrawn
  • Defiance and provocative behaviour
  • Poor concentration
  • Bad memory
  • Reading difficulties
  • Problems with spelling
  • Neurotic personality
  • Physical tiredness

These problems will not definitely occur in all people who have their writing hand changed and of course they can arise due to many other causes, but there does seem to be an association between all of these issues and a forced change of writing hand.   Our correspondents have also mentioned being bullied at school as a result of these effects.

Forcing a left-hander to change and use their right hand for writing is a very bad thing to do – please don’t do it!

We received an email recently with a personal story that really shows the serious impact this can have on people and made us think about this again.   It is included in its entirety below:

From: Tonya
Subject: My mom forced me to write right-handed

I was looking up this subject because I’ve been trying to teach my right-handed son to tie his shoes, and since I tie my shoes left-handed I’m not much help to him. I also eat with my left, and when I was in gymnastics my left side was my dominant side.  Yet I write right-handed, and can recall my mother snatching pencils out of my left hand and saying, “No! We write with our RIGHT–see? That rhymes. Use your right hand!”  I remember it feeling weird, but I did as I was told.  I had a bed-wetting phase but always thought it was due to other things, such as being angry with my parents for other matters but in our household children were not permitted to express anger.  I’ve suffered anxiety and bouts of clinical depression my whole life–and PPD after the birth of my 1st baby–and until reading articles about it today never thought it could all go back to being left-converted. Wow. As an adult, I do get mentally tired easily, and fatigued sometimes for seemingly no reason.  As a child I did not stutter, but as an adult I find speaking very difficult–I can write well and easily express what I want to say in writing….but I search for words when speaking and get all tongue-tied. I’m very   introverted and soooo socially awkward.  Oh and I flunked out of typing class in high school! Hahaha.  Never could play the piano, either.  So, after reading some articles, I can see a connection, for myself, between the studied effects and my own conversion to writing right-handed. Definitely.

Your Left handed Child eBook For more information on this and all aspects of being left handed as a child and how to help left-handed children get past some of the basic challenges they will face with writing, cutting and other activities at school, download Lauren’s book “Your Left-Handed Child”.Also covers:* Development of left-handedness
* Pre-school development
* Strategies for everyday life
* Left-handedness in school
* Sport
* Music
* Practical and educational resources

Download Lauren’s book “Your Left-Handed Child”

Please add any of your own experiences or links to related material as comments below.

We would also be very interested in your comments on changes in the other direction – natural right-handers being forced to write left-handed as a result of physical problems such as an accident or stroke that means the cannot use their right hand (assuming nobody would have the audacity to change a right-hander to write left-handed just because of prejudice, religious views or some sense of what they should do to be “normal”!).



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101 comments on “Changing Left to Right
  1. Ghie says:

    hello, I’m Ghie 32 years old. I remember when I was in pre school I used to be left handed. But my grandma insisted that I used my right hand because I’m a girl (I don’t know what’s the connection) and she used to hit my hand with rulers, can’t remember how many rulers been broken.
    As I read the article do you think it had affected my memory coz I’m always forgot nearly everything?

  2. Amelia says:

    Im 10 – 11 and am left handed in writing but everything else right handed. Then today when I tried right handed writing it looked exactly the same as my left handed writing? Am I right or left handed?

  3. Joyce Thomas says:

    My mother started changing my handedness when I was about a year old she said. That would have been in 1954 in the Kansas City, MO area of the United States. It was a quite common practice her doctor told her. My right-handwriting is quite good, as is my printing. But I have been a nail-biter all my life — thank goodness for acrylic nails! I cannot “bowl” properly, starting out on my left foot, taking 3 steps instead of 4. I bat (at baseball) left-handed. I studied both piano and typing and am OK at piano and great at typing (high speed & accuracy).

    I do have number dyslexia — untreated, it may have contributed to my not learning math well.

    The one thing I cannot do properly with my right hand (never tried my left) is check a woman’s cervical dilation during labor! I am a midwife and of course, that’s a very important skill! I also realize I have small hands (but I do wear a size 6 1/2 surgical glove) — so maybe that’s it.

    I have always been shy and feel I never have anything to say to anyone — making conversation with a stranger (or acquaintance) is difficult for me. But I can prepare and present my curriculum to nurses when required.

    Of my 4 children, 2 are definite dominant left-handers (and both have issues with nail-biting).

    My daughter was really ambidextrous — but a kindergarten teacher had her practice writing right-handed, as so she is. She does not bite her nails.

    My last child of my husband who is a lefty & I is a dominant right-hander, no nail-biting. So go figure . .. !

  4. Diana says:

    I got my admission in the school at the age of 3. I use my left hand to write and my mother told me to use my right hand, and as I read on your website about some of the effects people have reported to you from being forced to change their writing hand as a child,I remember that I had that thing. If I try to use my left hand to write,it’s like mirror reflecting kind of thing,I mean to say that if you see the word ‘blue’ in the mirror how it is look like? Do these kind of people have the problem to express what they trying to tell something? How to use left hand again to activate right side of the brain?

  5. Sarah says:

    Help! After a couple of years of struggling massively with writing we took my son for an OT assessment. It turns out that although he was made to write with his LEFT hand by his reception teacher he should actually be using his right hand. I can’t find any research or suggestions about whether we should continue with his left (he is now nearly 7 and only uses his left for writing) or whether we should start again at the basics and teach him to use his right? Might this be better in the long run?

  6. Precious says:

    Im not sure if I was born left handed or not, and whichever hand I used to write as a child first. My first memory is that I wrote with my right hand in class, but with my left hand at home in my room. My mom yelled if we used our left hand, which scared me. My writing at school was very bad. However I was always prone to use my left hand. From my senior year in higj school till noe I’ve been writing with my left hand continually, and my mom is shocked to how perfect my writing is. Both my hand writings are perfect, but my stronger “arm” if I would have to lift a weight is my right arm. Therefore, i am not sure which hand os dominant. I just consider myself right handed with a left hand preference? Weird. However, I do stutter at times, which never happened as a kid. I also have major memory lost at times, it’s annoying. I constantly have to write notes because I forget fast. I write better than I speak, I have to focus hard.

  7. Gina LaDeaux says:

    I’ve always been left handed. I do everything with my left BUT I recently broke my left wrist in a car wreck now im being forced to do things with my right hand. I CANT write with my right at all so I was just wondering, how do you learn to do things with your opposite hand. I feel so lost like im not myself without my left hand.

  8. Sashineka Sumbulingam says:

    I have a ten years old son who was born left handed. His father requested his kindergarten teacher to train him use right hand. My son only writes with right hand but he does all the other thing with left hand. How can I train him to write with left hand back. Please advice me

  9. Kayla Marie Bowman says:

    I’m searching for an answer! I write left handed. When I was little my mom tired to teach me to write right handed. She gave up and let me be left handed. When we went bowling I was taught to bowl left handed but refused and bowled right handed. Still today I’m 25 and write left handed. I do everything else right handed. Throw, bat, shoot, and etc… What does this mean am I left handed or right?

    • Neto says:

      Hello Kayla, your dominant-hand is the hand you do use to most tasks. If you do use the right-hand most, you’re right-handed.

  10. John Proud says:

    I am 73 years old when I was first at school I was made to write right handed the pen tied to my hand and belted if I changed hands I now write both hands but print with my left hand and running write with my right hand but also I write with both hands at the same time I can write the same word with both hands the left will mirror write it and the right hand the correct way even to this day I have problems with my spelling but I can look into my mind’s eye and can view a image.

  11. Angie says:

    Hi, I have a 7 year old boy since i can remember he was a left handed but in pre school the teachers turned him a right handed. He is having big trouble now writing. i dont what to do ir you could guide me please!

  12. Andy says:

    I’m right-handed-ish. I use my left side for stuff in some cases and can’t even kick with my right leg but I write with my right hand. So I thought I should weigh in and say I ended up injuring my right hand so I can still use it but I can’t feel anything with my hand at all so it is really hard to do anything with it. Because of that I’ve been trying to learn to write with my left hand and it is really hard so I wanted to extend my sympathy to anyone who is a lefty and was forced to learn to write with their right hand.

  13. Comic Book Artist says:

    As a comic book artist I can say switching to my right hand would be impossible.

  14. LB says:

    It’s not too late. I was 25 when I switched back being left handed. Everything will come back naturally. Try reading Hidden Handedness Paperback – January 15, 2007by Samuel M. RandolpHe switched back when he was in his 40’s.

  15. Julie says:

    I have 5 children. My 3rd (7 years old) is clearly left-handed. my 4th (4 years old) was clearly right-handed. However, at some point a 1 1/2 ago, #4 looked over at #3 drawing, and deliberately switched the marker from her right hand to her left hand, and has been drawing/writing this way since. She would always naturally pick things up with her write hand to draw, look over at her sister, and switch hands. However, it is clear to me that she doesn’t have the fluidity and smoothness of motion during writing/drawing as she did with her right hand. Even now, if I ask her to write the same thing with her right hand, it is almost as good as it was with her left hand. So, I’m wondering what I should do about this. It seems to be that this is almost the exact opposite situation as a left-hander being forced to write with the right hand, except that #4 is forcing herself. She does everything else with her right hand. I was going so say, including eating, but now I think that I’ll have to check this out tomorrow.

  16. Monssaf says:

    Hi everyone. I am currently 17 years old and i am right handed just like most people. I have read things that learning to wrote with my other hand will be a benefit related to the brain. However, its also saying tht forcing a child to use his other hand is bad too. So the question im asking os: at the age of seventeen,does it affect my intelligence or no? Because i now have more trouble concentrating and i find things harder to do than before. Maybe that is related to lack of sleep. I dont sleep a lot. About 6-5 h every night

  17. blackbombchu says:

    Mirror writing shouldn’t be corrected either. If a lefty starts mirror writing on their own when they first writing, just leave them doing it their own way and don’t take off marks for mirror writing a homework assignment if you’re a teacher. Correcting their mirror writing will cause them to suffer later from problems 9, 13, and 23 in I was born right-handed but if I were a left-handed child beginning to write and started mirror writing on my own and missed a lot of school to get it corrected like in, I would stubbornly refuse to write normally to protest against giving future children the same trouble wasting my missing school for nothing. The people trying to train me to switch would eventually give up and although I would be making it a bigger struggle for myself, I would be saving future children the trouble of having their mirror writing corrected by refusing to write normally.

  18. blackbombchu says:

    I was born right handed and I never had an injury to my right arm and yet in 2009, I decided to change hands anyway and now I use my left hand for everything and am undetectably close to ambidextrous. In fact, a self-forced lefty like me can eventually get a higher amount of skill in both hands than a self-forced righty once their originally nondominant hand exceeds in skill of their originally dominant hand. See

  19. Jennifer says:

    I think I may have inadverdently trained my child to be right handed instead of left. She is almost 7 and incredibly smart, like crazy smart, but she hates to write. It looks very uncomfortable for her and she appears to be incredibly focused on letter formation and has to really think about it. It hurts her physically. When she was younger, I didn’t really see her favor one hand over the other, so we taught her to be right handed. I just did the eye dominence test last night and she is definitely left-eye dominant. I am going to test if she is left dominent on other things today. If she is, could I have just have made a mistake? Should I correct it and now teach her to be left handed? If so, how?

    • Aidan Ferguson says:

      In my opinion, I think that you should ask her about this and try to make her be left handed again. This is a very easy thing to fix. Trust me, I have had this experience before. I myself am a lefty, and when I was little I had a friend who was forced to be right-handed by her preschool teacher. When she told me about this, I immediatly helped her, and trained her into becoming a lefty again. And now because of that, she has some of the neatest, fastest, and most fluent handwriting I have ever seen! She is also one of the most intelligent girls in all of school. Like I said again, I think that you should talk to your daughter about this, and try to encourage her to try to be left-handed. If you do, then maybe all of her handwriting problems will all dissappear. If you have questions, let me know

  20. blackbombchu says:

    There’s no reason to be so sure the suicide was because of her changed handedness. There’s a general tendency for teenagers to get depressed more easily than other ages groups and be more likely to commit suicide because of it. If she was only 2 when she was forced to change handedness, surely her right hand would have passed her left hand in skill long before she was 17 so she probably would have made her own choice to continue using her right hand at 17 with no forcing now that it’s more skilled so I really don’t think the suicide came from being forced to use her right hand.

  21. sara says:

    Sorry, This is a reply to Bob on sept 19th.

  22. sara says:

    Hey, I can go this too and without even thinking about it, no problem !

  23. Anne says:

    I am a lefty. I don’t do anything with my right hand except cutting meat while eating (when it comes to food preparation for a meal I am about to cook, I cut with my left. I just don’t like to switch hands during the meal and keep my fork in my left.)However, my dad tried to make me switch when I was younger. I was already insecure about it. I was the only left-hander in my preschool class and I noticed that. Luckily my teacher was a lefty and my mom has a sister who is a lefty so they were more accepting. They saw that I was trying to switch myself to my right because of what hand the other kids preferred and my dad would subtly try to encourage that too. My hand would shake and I couldn’t hold anything right. My mom and teacher just said, “Why don’t you try again with your left?” So I did and obviously it was a lot better and they were accepting. My dad was not. After my parents divorced when I was 5, I would visit him on weekends and he would watch me while I ate and would refuse to let me eat unless I used my right hand to pick up my fork. He would say things like, “Your mother forced you to be left-handed.” Like it was something horrible to be. So when I tried my hand wouldn’t cooperate and food would end up on the floor. Eventually, despite wanting to please him, I just couldn’t give in because it was way too hard. I tried to please him in other ways by being better behaved towards him than I was towards my mother. I resented her because she “was a nagging and horrible person.” Okay, she does nag a lot but you don’t tell your kid that and act as though you don’t have any faults. But I do believe my tumultuous relationship with my father started out due to him not accepting me as a left-hander. If Freud were to analyze me, he may say this and my parents bitter divorce are the stems of any “daddy issues” that I have and how I strongly hesitate starting relationships and am the opposite of clingy due to this. I also do notice I sometimes have a stuttering problem. Not with a couple of people, but there are several where I notice I trip over my words frequently. But this seems to be more of a problem that has really manifested in the last two or three years so it is probably something else.

  24. StineC. says:

    Please stay true to who you are. The way your body, your brain, your mind is put together is to be left handed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being left handed. There IS something wrong with being mean to others and tease anyone who isn’t precisely like themselves. I know it is hard, but try to ignore those who do; as for the practical difficulties thankfully there are a lot more objects designed for lefties for sale now and I’m sure there will be continually more. Fill your house with anything and everything left handed, and then everyone else will have to be a righy in a leftie world for a change :) Just never regret being who you are, because you are perfect JUST the way you are, Emma.

  25. Jonathan says:

    I am doing research on how to become ambidextrous. Any advice on that. A.K.A. I am typing with my right hand.

  26. Dori says:

    Also, I have been feeling like I have adult onset ADD.

  27. Dori says:

    So I was originally left handed and was forced to write with my right hand at a young age. Til this day, now 55, I still do a lot of things where my left hand/side is dominant, however, at this point, my right side/hand is more dominant. Growing up I have had self esteem issues, depression, I do stumble over my words at times, I am a slow thinker and reader, it takes a while to process things sometimes, I am better at communicating my thoughts through writing versus talking.But how can I say for sure that these symptoms have been the effect of the hand switching?

  28. Tracy says:

    Hi, my son looked to be left handed at the age of 4 and 5 but in Kindergarten when he was the only one using his left hand, he switched and asked to start writing with his right hand instead. We tried to discourage this and explained that there are many people who use their left hand including his teacher and some relatives, but that did not matter to him. Fast forward 10 years and now he is a teenager who is very bright but has the handwriting of a second grader at best. I worry his writing will never be any good. He has also had trouble in sports trying to figure out which side is best. Is there anything that can be done at this late age of 14, or is he stuck being a self-forced righty?Thanks for the information.

  29. Mika Guzman says:

    Hi! I’m Mika Guzman! I’m a High School Student. Well last week I broke my left arm and apparently I’m left handed! I do mostly everything with my left arm! Now I have to do everything with my Right Arm. It’s so difficult! All the classes I got good grades on, became bad grades :( I can barely write with my right hand! I sometimes pee in my pants because I have trouble putting my pants down. Especially it’s embarrassing to pee in your pants right in front of your friends. Hard time eating too. Hard to take showers with a cast that you can not get wet. It’s terrible!! Is it bad to switch to be right handed for only one month? Cause I’m worried!

    • Yan says:

      I myself was originally left handed but turned right handed, when I was 6-8 I dislocate my left arm so I had to do everything with my right hand, my mom would go to school and write everything for me, over time I turned right handed. I dunno if my lefthandedness will come back, it isn’t really that much of a problem, if you think about it cos it’s only temporary :3

      • Yan says:

        My right hand is now dominant butt I do miss being a lefty Q-Q I don’t seem to have that much problems excluding the fact I have a messy hand writing, I’m constantly tired (/lazy), I have bad memory, horrible at spelling and is usually depressed 😀 (Shouldn’t be smiling, I knw) but I’m usually trying to optimistic :3

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