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!
The 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:
- The effect of changing left to right handed
- We had a massive response to that article and did an update including the best of the comments
Update on changing left-handers to right
- Brain organisation and major functions on each side
- Bad handwriting
- 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- Shyness and being withdrawn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:
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.
|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
* Practical and educational resources
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”!).