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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341 comments on “The effect of changing left to right handed
  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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

  5. 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!!

  6. 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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