Anything Left-Handed > Blog Posts > Newsletter articles > October 2010 > The effect of changing left to right handed

The effect of changing left to right handed

For many years, left-handed children were forced by their parents or schools to change hands and at least write right-handed. We have also heard many stories about other activities that have been forcibly changed – from eating to making the sign of the cross in Catholic schools.

We received a note from Kent in the USA that made us think about this again and try to get some more feedback from members on this subject. This is what he had to say:

I was forced to change my writing hand from left to right at a young age and I would like to see feedback from your other readers that were forced to write right handed as to how it affected them. I'm a male in the US and I wet the bed up until the age of 12 and I wonder if that was related. Also the universal opinion of my penmanship is that it is atrocious. I'm 62 now and a few years back I taught myself to write left handed. Although I'm slower left handed (probably less practice) the writing is clearly more legible.

King George VI left handedAnother thing that has made us think about this is a new film to be release shortly called “The King's Speech” about UK Monarch George VI (King from 1936 to 1952 and father of our current Queen Elizabeth II), starring Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter. He was a natural left-hander but was forced to write with his right and grew up as a nervous child with a pronounced stammer. The film does not seem to make much of the forced change in handedness, but stuttering is one effect of changing hands that has come up in research before.

There is a good article about the film here:

  • Are you a natural left-hander who was forced to write right handed?
  • Is there anything else that you have been forced to change and do right-handed?
  • What effect did these changes have on you and how have things changed as you have grown up?

Are you aware of any research into this subject, or do you want to undertake any?

Please add a comment to this blog post or use our contact form to send us your thoughts – we will report back in a future newsletter.

You can see an update on this article with more information here

Posted in Lefty info, October 2010

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348 comments on “The effect of changing left to right handed
  1. Tracee says:

    As a young child my preferred hand was my left. I did encounter some who would suggest I use my right hand however my mother would immediately tell me no keep going with my left.
    Once I started primary school my teacher made such a scene over my writing with my left hand I believed I had to use my right hand. I felt as though I was wrong as everybody else was using their right hand.
    As I grew up I would have moments of confusion where I naturally felt my left side was the way I wanted to go in playing cricket or guitar but everything lesson wise was suited to my right handed class mates so again I thought there was something wrong with me for not choosing my right hand.
    Now I honestly don’t know how this has affected me. I do tend to second guess or doubt myself which may be due to this as I often believe I’m wrong. Maybe this is a self esteem thing too. The other thing is my hand writing was never great unless I spent a long time focusing carefully on it or if I write in cursive. I often joke my handwriting was due to the fact I had to change from left to right hand. But who knows?

  2. Devesh says:

    I am natural left hander but i wrote upto 29 year from right .i always realize i am missing the rhythm and its difficult for me write compare to other person.but when i concerned with doctor he advised me use left hand writing now i m creative and confident during doing things

  3. Christian Utley says:

    Im a force right hander i wet the bed till i was about 10. I studder alot, and had nervous issues growing up. Im 17 now and 2 years back i started to write left handed its slower, but neater than my right hand writing. So with that being said I started to do others things lefty, sports,drawing,etc… And at times it came quick and felt natural. And still to this day sort of clusmy with my right than left. So i discovered myself that i was a force right hander. (Secretly left handed)

  4. Niranjan says:

    i I I have palmar hyperhydrosis and I often get withdrawn and lost within when.people think I am absent minded. Wet hands. I was born left handed but my parents force changed it. I hope that getting back to left handedness will solve these problems. If it does then I will definitely like to know more about it, and give it a try surely..

  5. Carol A. Webb says:

    I am always searching for information about what could happen to a child who is forced from left handed to right. My first grade teacher told me writing with my left hand was wrong. She had had my two older sister as students and they were right-handed so she said I should be as well. She also said she knew my mother was raising us as Christians and left-handed people were devil worshippers. She asked me what my favorite color was and the next day she brought in a red ribbon which she used to tie my left hand down. I did stutter as a child and still do when I am very tired. I grew up very self-conscious and hated to have to ever be the center of attention. In recent years I have begun to open up some and to not be so shy (I’m a 58 y/o female. I have been told I have beautiful handwriting and I’m an avid reader and never had any problems reading. Math was a different story. Thanks for the opportunity to participate! P>S. I have two nieces who are left-handed and a grand-nephew who is leaning toward a left-hand preference.

  6. Crystal Bartlett says:

    I was taught to write right handed and throw a softball right handed. This was a regular routine. We ended up playing college softball. I did everything else left handed. When I did not have a softball glove on I threw left handed naturally. I did tear my labrum and rotator cuff and had multiple surgeries on my right shoulder. I do believe it was because the strength in my right arm was not as strong as it should have been. I did have some of the same issues that were listed. I was shy, I do have issues with not being able to process speech from Brian signal to mouth. Sometimes causing a speech impediment. I do believe it helped me be a better hitter in softball being able to use both hands. The bottom hand controls the bat and most hitters control it with non dominant hand. I was stronger with mine which helped me. It also helped on defense because I caught with my dominant hand while others did not

  7. Ron Patton says:

    I am 43 years old now, and was forced to switch to writing right handed when I was around 5 or 6. Just recently I discovered this was the reason I stuttered when I was that age. I’ve been trying to switch back. My writing is messy both ways. Raised in PA, USA
    I was suppressed by the government, I could of been great!

  8. Felix Lopez says:

    Our son had both horrible hand writing and began to have problems with speaking. Some times starting a sentence with the first few words repeatedly, before getting the sentence out. Sometimes giving up on it all together. He suffered with anxiety and seamed very uncoordinated when trying to play sports. We had him looked at by a neurologist, who confirmed that he was a 100% lefty. This was early on in the 2nd grade. Now he’s in the 3rd grade and his handwriting is improving. He already writes better than what he did right handed. However, he still has his speech issues. I look at baby videos when he was first learning to talk, and the problems didn’t start until he started school. My question is, did we catch it in time for these issues to go away, or is there permenant damage?

  9. Karin Pawlowski says:

    I grew up going to a Catholic school where they did force children who were left handed to use their right hands instead. I do not have any memory of me personally being made to do this but as the years went by, especially in my 40s and 50s, I started noticing clues that might have a bearing on the fact that I was originally left handed. I will tell people directions and point left and say right. People will tell me to take a right hand turn and I will turn left. I took aerobics classes where I had a hard time turning in the correct direction as the rest of the class when we were doing our workout. I struggled to get it right and finally I did but I actually felt my brain working hard to understand which way I was supposed to go. There are some other stuff too but this has always been on my mind as to whether I really was left handed….which I have always wanted to be.

  10. Barbara says:

    First off i wasn’t forced to change my left hand to write right handed. But i was forced to change how i write with my left hand! But I wonder if any other left handers went through this or was forced to write as if you wrote right handed? I live in the USA. And as a child in school i when i was very young, I can still remember my teacher always correcting my hand when i was writing. See i held my paper side ways to write and I would turn my left hand to write. The teacher would come over everytime she caught me writing and say no ! Hold your paper straight when you write! And she would take my hand and make me hold it straight. So i would write straight across the paper. At times i would get smacked on my left hand if she caught me doing it wrong ! So she made me write her way as if i was right handed well that’s what i believe. Because my dad was a lefty and i noticed that he wrote with a turned hand and his paper turned too and I’ve seen other left handers who turn their hand different when writing. I use to wonder why is it that I’m left but don’t write like they do? Then i remembered my teacher teaching me to write her way so that’s why i wasn’t like my dad when i wrote left handed! I felt sad and felt like she took a way a part of my inheritance ! I’ve seen left handers who wrote upside down with their paper turned down more then the way i started out doing. Mine was turned some and my hand turned but that teacher changed me! I feel like I write like a right handed person going straight across the paper when i should be doing it like a lefty. Just wonder if anyone else was forced to write diffetently? Or do you write with a turned hand and your paper straight or do you turn the paper too? Thanks for reading!

  11. Pamela says:

    My story is the same, except entirely different. My father had one teacher for k-4, and she fought him over his being left-handed to the extent of just refusing to put a passing grade on work completed by a child’s left hand, but due to daddy’s stubbornness and his daddy’s admiration for rugged individualism over academic achievements, my daddy came out left-handed albeit traumatized…

    So one thing nobody in the world was ever going to do to this man’s children was to tell them to change the hand they used to write with. In my case, I ended up with a flair for writing, a badly maladapted right-handed pencil grip (and no one was allowed to force a change on me about that, either! Daddy said so!), and a late life (age 13) change of heart (by which I mean I spontaneously and deliberately elected to start writing with my left hand just to be a rebel).

    Bizarrely, or not, I also stuttered in grade school, wet the bed until aged 11, and still have ADHD requiring medication. I just picked the wrong hand all by myself. WTF

  12. Deborah Elliott says:

    I went to school at a very early age (just after my 3rd birthday, in the late 1950s), and had no problems with learning except for maths. I was constantly in trouble (even when so little!) for transposing numbers eg 01 for 10. Of course, once my parents insisted I be allowed to write with my left hand, the problems disappeared. Nearly 40 years later, I was astounded when the prep school teachers of my 5 year old son suggested that I encourage him to be right handed, as he hadn’t displayed a preference at that stage. I didn’t, and he turned out to be as left-handed as me, and has just graduated from the UK’s leading conservatoire as a talented musician. I’m very glad we both escaped being forced to deny our true handedness!!

  13. Charlene says:

    I went to elementary school in the 1950’s, when it was common to try to change left-handers. My teacher would take my pencil out of my left hand and put in my right hand, and turn my paper around. When she walked away from my desk, I’d put pencil back into left hand and turn my paper back. This was a daily occurrence with that particular teacher.

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