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Anything Left-Handed > Being LH Home > Left handed children > Changing right back to left

Changing a forced right-hander back to left-handed

We have had a lot of articles and discussion recently about naturally left-handed children being forced to change from writing with their left hand to using their right and the adverse effects that can have:

We received an email recently from Virginia that asked about dealing with the consequences of this and whether it is possible to change a child (or adult) back to being fully left-handed and whether that would solve the various problems that had been created by the initial change.

Subject: Left-handed to right-handed. Can it be reversed?
I'm a teacher and one of my students (he's 13 now), who has been also diagnosed with dyslexia, has a very poor writing and literacy problems, was forced to change from left-handed to right-handed. All his family was left-handed and, apparently, they didn't want him to be lefty too.
I wonder if the process can be reversed and if this would help him to sort those problems out, or if trying to regain his left-handed abilities would make things even worse.
Can you help me?

We are not aware of any studies or research results in this are but Keith looked through all the comments on the previous articles on this subject and there have been a couple that are relevant and do seem to be encouraging for Virginia and her pupil.   That said, this is a very complicated area and we cannot make any recommendations or give advice on particular cases.

We had a comment added by Rick about the way his daughter was changed from left to right-handed and that prompted a reply from Jayne about her own experiences:

It isn’t too late for her to change back, in fact, she may benefit from it. Throughout my life, I’ve been clumsy. My handwriting was horrendous, legible but ugly, and arts and crafts were just embarrassing. I had trouble eating without being called rude for scraping the plate or being unable to twist my pasta correctly.
When I was 17, however, all became clear when my family and I learned that I had in fact sustained a nerve injury at birth that went undiagnosed. I was really left handed-but the weakened arm was unusable for fine motor tasks so I switched to using my right hand when I was a toddler. The good news was this-since I was 17, my nerves had had time to heal a bit, and I had a chance to regain my original handedness.
It’s slow and arduous. One must not use the right hand for any fine motor task unless 100% necessary. It takes 3 weeks for the hand to be on par with the right. After this time, the left hand will slowly improve to surpass it. I’m approaching Week Five. My left hand writing is slightly better than my right-your daughter’s hand will likely progress faster because she has no nerve damage. Either way, I’m seeing my font begin to develop style and character, and it feels way more natural.

We also had a comment from Kristin about her experiences with her own daughter:

I mistakenly taught my daughter to write with her right hand even though I knew she was left handed. I had NO idea this had an effect on her brain. She was having trouble with school work so I took her to a neurodevelopmental therapist and they suggested having her do all of her activities left handed.
She had to do several activities a day left handed: eating, writing 2x for 15 minutes, coloring, drawing, and fine motor skills activities. In about a month she was completely switched to left. I have to correct her some times b/c she’ll color right. She is more comfortable doing this but that is out of habit. Her writing is so much better now and her focus is getting better.   Now they have me covering her right eye 3 hours a day with a patch to switch her eye dominance. It switched almost immediately but I’m to continue for 3 months. They also have her wearing an ear plug in her right ear all day. This is to get the brain back to using the right side and to cut off any of the damage I did when I encouraged her to be right handed.
I thought it would make life easier for her but how wrong I was! The good news is, it seems easy to switch back with a few months of determination.

So, there are definitely some cases  where the effort to change back has proved worthwhile, but we know that the vast majority of changed left-handers never get to do that.   As noted before, we really cannot make recommendations on specific cases or offer any individual advice, but we hope you have found this helpful and we would really appreciate it if you would share your own thoughts or experiences by adding them as comments below.

 

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72 comments on “Changing right back to left
  1. Simon says:

    Hello, I was forced to use my right hand in writing when I was a child. I don’t remember much about that time. My mother told me she was requested by my preschool teacher to convert me from a lefty to a righty. I’ve read some of ur articles and have realised I’ve suffered some effects noted down in the article, due to the change.So I was wondering if its possible to change back to a lefty even if am 19yrs old and if so, will it affect me neurologically?

  2. Bombe Tao says:

    I’m now 24 , should I switch back to be lefty? By birth I was lefty and got switched to righty when I was 3- 4 yrs old. Still I do some task with my left like using sccisors and knife, combing etc, and use my right hand for writing, throwing ball, etc. Im in mood swings mostly everyday. I have good handwriting but it requires pressure at the finger’s, usually my nerves bulge a bit. Three months ago I tried to switch my writing and sports activities to left but soon i gave up since it’s not that easy being in college now and to keep up academic also one’s pen signature. I like arts and music too but never tried both. While playing soccer I usually have sprains and mild fracture with my right leg, may I never tried with my left leg for pass or kick. I’m always in doubt about everything , very bad in decision making. More often I tend to worry about my future and regret about my past.I read the articles and posts and feels Im not the only one. What should I do? I’m sure I’m not abidextrous. Suggestions needed. May be its not about my handedness afterall !!

  3. Vicky says:

    Hi, I am now 39 years old. I born with left handed but my mom forced me to use right handed for whatever she can see like writing and holding chopsticks. I remember my handwriting was very neat and teacher posted my handwriting. Since I changed to right handed, my writing is terrible. My brother always laughed at me that I can’t hold chopsticks probably. One day, when I was able 30 years old, I tried to use left hand for chopsticks. I could hold it correctly and naturally, just since I have been using right hand after all. My left hand isn’t as strong and get tired more easily. I have been thinking if I should train myself to write in left hand again at this age. Will it be benefit to change it back to left hand?

  4. Bob R. says:

    I’m a unique case. I was born right handed but broke my arm right before Kindergarten. I was forced to write with my left hand for five or six weeks as my right arm healed and was never able to switch back. So I’m mostly left handed but do play guitar right handed. I occasionally have stuttering and speech slurring issues and attention problems. I’ve always wondered how much my situation has affected my brain and if it is reversible.

  5. Nay lynn says:

    Is it sad I started crying
    .probably… I’m 15..i have a momm who I know adores me but several things in my life she negelected one was my dominance I have always been very creative and she jokes that the reason I’m a hot mess is I’m a artist and the reason I struggle in school is just because I’m convinced I can survive as free-lance photographer.. But I self diagnozed myself as left handed when I was ten.. I told her and was ignored I remember crying when I was six because I was home schooled and was told I was not leaving my seat until I wrote the same words 25 times each and if she couldn’t read what I wrote I rewrite them and I couldn’t do it and I said so and I spent hours even ate dinner at the desk still doing it because I wasn’t able to and my hand would cramp and she would grab my hand massage it then say get back to work.. And I’m here now like I litterly physical couldn’t do it. She was practicly torturing me she didn’t realize it of course but she always gave up on teach me how to write and then would get mad in resent years she always says you have to know how to write in order to graduate you have written exams.. I’m very sensitive.. In past years since I was 7 there’s been a steady pitfall in my grades. I live with my brother now.. We discovered .i don’t have any of the proper learning foundations I need.. I haven’t assorbed information the way I was ment to. I’m a flawless reader to myself but IF I try reading outloud I’m a studdering freak I have a speach issue I add s sounds to some words or stop mid word and stutter. And I’m trying so hard to fix myself I really am I’m practicing writing with my left hand I eat with my left hand carry things with my left hand but now if I still use my right hand most and I attack myself for it because I know I can’t fix anything if I don’t focus my habits to my left hand I eat with my left hand but I’m a artist and I use my right hand to draw I tried using my left but my pencil feels weird in my left hand like Im three and learning how to hold it again and I’m so shaky and my notebook sits against my hand differently my motor skills are fucked up I noticed I don’t eat properly ether my silverwhere isn’t held right but just The motion of using that hand is better enough I ignore the awkward grip but after all the brow beating over my skills when I have something like art I know good at it makes me wanna cry to see shakey lines with my proper hand when I know my right hand is smoother.. If I can get to wear I can use both comfortably in balance for things or fix the damage in my hand readjust my self I have a friend with RA in his hands and he’s a beautiful artist way beyond me he doesn’t have long before he looses most all his motion in his wrist and he’s only 6 years older then me.. And he’s left handed.. I wanna maybe get to where I can be his pupil so when he can’t do what he loves anymore he can teach me and still be involved in The process

  6. Erin says:

    This happened to me as a child and I can offer you some insight, and hope! I remember my teacher taking my pencil out of my left hand in K5 and telling me to use my right but she would allow me to color left handed. I continued to use my left hand more until we had to learn cursive writing in second grade. I began to get headaches and my mother noticed I was more clumsy. I had a comprehensive testing in the fourth grade which showed I was far advanced across the board and very under par in math, mainly number comprehension and operations applications. I still at this point continued to write with both hands through early high school. I took honors classes but could not pass pre-algebra to save my life. I also was not good at judging distances or drawing yet I could paint (yes left handed) exceptionally well. My parents tried everything to no avail. My Sophomore year they had a specialist assess me and I was diagnosed with dyslexia and a visual processing LD with an IQ of 135. A teacher at my school offered The Discovery Program as a learning disability therapist (NILD Therapy). It focused not just on tutoring but treating the root of the LD. She noticed me switching hands when I was tired and after realizing what happened she met with cognitive psychologist who told her that it had caused the processing issue and to throw a wad of paper at my face and see which hand I deflected with. The idea was to switch me to the correct dominant hand since my brain had not adapted. I was 16 at the time and after he assessed me he said I was too old to be reversed without risking difficulty to graduation. I had my hand wrapped in ace bandage for months to force me to fully switch. This was coupled with puzzles and processing games but MOST importantly rhythmic writing. This is fluid shapes drawn over and over while repeating words and later working math problems without stopping the motion to create strong communication pathways in the brain. I no longer write left handed although I do still deflect with it. I went from failing basic math in high school, I did struggle in my first years of college but I continued the therapies and I am now in my early thirties and back in school for computer programming doing very well. I still have some hangups here and there but I never ever thought I would be using math all day and loving every minute. I think if I were a few years younger they would have switched me and I wish they had but it is possible to get help to reverse the damage. I would highly recommend parents/educators look into this option as it gave me a much brighter future!

    • Lisa Carlow says:

      What did u ask for when u went to see the doctor to correct this? What kind of Dr did u seek? A psychiatrist or neurologist?
      My boy was made to use his right and is having all sorts of problems. I just want to do what’s best and switch him back to left.

  7. Ricky O Weber says:

    What’s interesting in my case when I was 6 years old I broke my right collarbone not a problem using my left hand to brush my teeth and other tasks such as using both sides of my brain and know I understand how me, myself and I am such a multitasker because one really can use both sides of your brain…HOLY SHIT….and in real LIFE have only met one other person who was also born a natural LEFTY and was switched to be a RIGHTY.

  8. Ricky O Weber says:

    YEP I am living proof of being born a natural lefty switched to be right handed…at age 62 years old never crossed my mind to surf online about this….

  9. Eve says:

    I have been wondering for many years if I was left-handed when I was born. My father’s father was left handed. My mother could well have trained me to be right-handed. When I read the word “dyslexia” above, it made me start to cry. I am 55 years old now and have not been diagnosed with dyslexia, but I have suffered a great deal with those types of problems…not just with numbers and words but also with tasks and thoughts as well.

    Sometimes my “other” hand will interfere with what the “first” hand is trying to do in accordance with a different thought about whatever it is that I am doing at the time. It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not I started with my right hand or my left. Thoughts even get reversed sometimes.

    I seem to be right-eyed, more accurate with throwing and catching with my left hand, and lead with my left foot. Forget about dancing. I get too mixed up with which foot is trying to do what.

    I have also been clumsy and not able to learn to perform tasks beyond the “learning” level; such as playing an instrument, or working as a nurse. If I was born left-handed and was trained to be right, I think it has had a debilitating effect on me.

  10. Ross says:

    Hi, I would like to ask if it is possible to share the name of the neurodevelopment therapist that Kirstin referred to above in the article? We have a three year old who has been encouraged to write right-handed but is a natural lefty and would very much like to correct it.

    Many thanks.

  11. Sun says:

    My mom started teaching me how to write from age 2 and that’s when she started forcing me to switch from left to right. She was very strict and quite cruel. I started losing vision in my left eye at age 3-4 years of age and lost complete vision by age 13-14. I only realized the loss of vision at age 11 and was taken to the doctors who said I had glaucoma and the damage is permanent since the damage is of the optic nerve which is part of the brain and hence I will never get my vision back no matter what. Could the forced changing of handedness be related to my loss of vision?

  12. joe says:

    I am 26 years old, of the very first things I remember using my lift hand to eat and hold stuff, my family is sort of religious and they think left handed are a demon possessing. they literally torture me to convert to right handed person.
    in the process, i get severe ADHD, bad memory, withdrawn and social anxiety, depression

    after 20 years I start to use back my left and every thing get better
    but the writing still not able to use y left so any help is appreciated

  13. aderayo Sarah momah says:

    Pls I ve a child that is 11years old,and was forced to use righthand instead of left hand ,and its affecting the boy academically, he does nt ve confidence in himself .pls I need more advise on what to do

  14. Jack says:

    Hi I was ambidextrous but mainly left handed, I used my left hand for everything but my kindergarten teacher hated that so she made me sit on my left hand and use my right hand for everything is there anyway I can rehabilitate or start to use left hand again (I’m 13 so it was 9-10 years ago)

    Sorry this is the right one I forgot to fix the grammar on the other one

  15. Chrissy Brown says:

    Hi. I am left-handed but I think I switched hands when I was younger as I have most of the symptoms of becoming right-handed, but I can’t do much with my right-hand so I don’t know if I did or my hands are just very weak and I have fine motor skills problems as an almost 14 year old. Please help!

  16. Tim says:

    I have significant memories from childhood of what I thought as such a young child to be Epiphanies. Discovering innapropriateness of walking into someone else’s house without knocking, the day I saw my Father sign his name (I believe it was to a Check but may have been a line of credit at the store) and come away with food leading me to believe my Father’s name was all it took to gain food at that store and I deduced that he must own it. Shortly after I began to ask my mother to teach me to write my name. I wasn’t old enough yet for any formal schooling but she was excited to rweard my curiousity. As I watched I saw her using her right-hand. I knew that I always held my crayon in the left-hand. I thought to myself that I must not have figured out name-writing on my own because left hands weren’t eant for writing. I mimicked so many things that when I used my right hand my mom thought it odd only briefly because up until then I had done everything with my left but didn’t stop me because she had never wanted to force me to do either. I still have left foot dominance in sports and had difficulty learning shooting sports due to left eye dominance. I’m a musician. I wasn’t forced by anyone but myself. I have depression and severe anxiety issues and have wondered if attempting to retrain might help. (My youngest is a lefty and luckily made sure to not just allow but talk him through trying both and then letting him tell me how it felt and encouraging what was correct for him). If I did try, I think it best to wait until my undergraduate degree is finished tjis spring but it might at least be an interesting experiment.

  17. Jeannine Boyer says:

    I am 86 now and was wondering if I should try to change back to left hand. I did not know that my Mother had tied my left hand behind me until much later in life. If you had a left handed child in those days they were classed as a “misfit” and was treated as such.
    I had a hard time in school because my writing was very bad and as I got older it got worse. I drop things now. I blamed it on my arthritis and spine problem . Would love to feel normal.

  18. Ruben Moroyoqui says:

    I’m 50 years old and I was born a lefty. My father forced me to write with my right hand at a very young age. Today I write with my right hand, but practically everything else I do it with my left hand, except racket sports and golf. I’m not sure how much the change impacted me, to be honest, but I’m sure it took it’s toll one way or the other.
    I come from a family of artist and started developing my drawing and painting skills at very young age, however, I was forced to stop with my artistic work and somehow blamed my changing to become a righ-handed to this and a number of other aspects.

    So, I wonder if it might be of any benefit to change back to do everything with my left hand a t my age, starting off from writing, then every thing else.

    Can you please share your comments?

    • Eve says:

      Ruben, I am just now reading your comment after posting mine, and your experiences sound much like mine. My father was an architect, and both my older brother and sister draw very well. But me, well… even my stick-men are shaky!! Yet another thing that makes me wonder.

  19. Michelle says:

    I can’t remember far enough back to know if I was forced in school to write right-handed or if it’s something innate. I wonder because I do EVERYTHING else with the left side of my body and it feels completely natural (hoing a bat, throwing a ball, kicking a ball, eating, etc) so I’m curious about how hard it would be to learn to be fully left-handed and if it “makes sense” to do so.

  20. Stephen says:

    My dad notified me that I’m a lefty. It would only make sense, I do the majority of my everyday task with my left-hand. My right hand/arm feels solid though, it feels bigger and more dense, but is inaccurate and I cannot do anything with it.

    My left-hand feels very flexible and loose, like I’m not limited at all. My right hand is I may add on, feels very tight and limited. Any lefty relates this?

    • Chath says:

      Wow for some reason I thought I was the only one with that weird condition. But the same also with my right leg, more dense and stronger. I really want to change that, any solutions?

      • Stephen says:

        Yeah, my right arm/leg feel more dense, not more stronger just more dense. It feels unnatural doing a lot of stuff with it. My left feels a lot more quicker and precise. And natural as well!

    • Eve says:

      Hey, Stephen. Yeah, when something comes at me from out of the blue, I often catch it with my left hand. My right arm is stronger than my left, but my left arm is close to the same. My grip and mobility on both hands is also the same. But I did things growing up that required both hand coordination, such as playing instruments. But I could only get so good at it and no better, no matter how much I practiced. And that was one of my very favorite things in school.

  21. Hannah says:

    God & friends have recently helped me identify that I’m a forced right hander. Then I read your articles on forced right handedness & I was able to identify with many of the challenges listed & then I read this article on changing back to left handed. I used both hands well. I changed to using my left hand for everything. If I did not know which hand for which task, then I would see which one required more thought or movements, that I did with my left. I saw a change almost instantly. My mind cleared & it was a lot easier to think, follow, read, & remember. It turned my world upside down. Nothing was the same. I made the change July 11th & now it is August 30th. The first few nights I was dreaming about left hand right hand. Often I would have to change hands in the middle of doing something. Not it is a lot easier to do things with my left hand than when I first changed hands. The most challenging part of changing hands what that I have always been good with my hands (precision work, handwriting, & crafts). Now all of a sudden the one thing I was good at I was no longer good at. I am doing much better now & is no longer embarrassing. The wonderful part of changing to my left hand is that I can now think, understand, follow, read, & remember where before all of this was very difficult (school was a real challenge for me). I am 27 & live in the USA. I’m so glad for how God has brought this to my attention & helped me through the whole process!

    I have read the sad stories on this site of other forced right handers. God has certainly made each one of us different. I share my story in the hope that it will inspire you with courage & hope for a better future.

    • Mrs. A.J. Millington says:

      I understand completely how you feel. I’m the oldest of five children: with 2 brothers & 2 sisters. Both my brothers & sister are lefties, my younger sister and I are righties. However, when I was 4 years old, I picked up pencils & other objects with my left hand. After doing some research, I found left-handedness is on my dad’s side.

      Whenever he’d see me use my left hand, I was always discouraged to use my right hand. In 2013, I had a life-threatening illness and was on meds/IVs in my right arm for 35 days. When I was released from the hospital, my right arm hurt, it was difficult doing the smallest tasks. So I switched to my left hand. It felt awkward but now totally normal. I still do some tasks with my right hand but feel comfortable using my left hand. I eat left-handed, clean the house & such the same. My husband likes to tease me about sometimes but I know he’s not being mean. I also understand how you feel.

    • Eve says:

      Hi, Hannah. Yeah, the think, understand, follow, read, and remember part ~ that draws up a whole bunch of memories of being deemed lax, lazy, my best friend in school nick-named me “Klutz”. Partly because my maiden name was “Clatt” but also because I was more clumsy than even the average teenager. Sometimes I was even accused of lying, which hurt a lot because I will suffer consequences before I would lie about something. After I grew out of that phase of life, I had no more excuses and those foibles didn’t go away. Life became embarrassing and shameful. Unfortunaely, my mother strongly reinforced that idea.

  22. laila says:

    I was left handed but at a young age my mum forced me to become right handed. Now that she finally told my dad I WS actually left handed, he is encouraging me to use my left hand frequently. I’m 17 now, will this affect me in anyway?

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