Hand Dominance- Right, Left or Ambidextrous?

Hand dominance is one of those developmental milestones we’re aware of but don’t really understand too much other than, most of the population are right-handed, a small portion left-handed and even fewer ambidextrous, right? 

Guess what?! ‘Handedness’ can depend on many factors, so we thought we’d shed some light on this fascinating milestone. 

The definition of hand preference refers to the consistent favoring of one hand over the other to do a range of skills & activities. Hand preference, dominance or handedness usually starts to develop from 2-4 years of age, although it is common to change hands while they find what feels more comfortable. Usually, by age 4-6 years your child will have developed their preferred hand. A great way to describe the preferred or dominant hand is the ‘doing hand’ & the non-dominant hand is the ‘helping hand’. 

Types of Hand Dominance 

  • Right-handed: People who prefer to use their right hand for the majority of tasks are right-handed (aka righties). Common tools like scissors, can openers, even notebooks are often designed for right-handed use. 
  • Left-handed: Though only small, the numbers are growing for those that use their left hand for common tasks. Also called lefties, left-handed people may find certain tasks challenging because the tools needed are designed for the right-handed majority. Today, there are many left-handed options available for the most common tools. 
  • Mixed-handedness: Also called cross-dominance, a few people prefer to use either their right or left hand for one task and the opposite hand for another task. For example, a child who is mix-handed may write with their right hand and throw a ball with their left. 
  • Ambidextrous: Only about 1 percent of the population can use either hand for almost any task. They are known as ambidextrous (aka ambis). 

About 10% of the population is left-handed and while left-handedness used to be considered a burden and discouraged back in the day, there seems to be far less stigma and more acceptance today within societyEveryday items & tools are more readily available and many online stores provide these items catering specifically for our ‘lefties’. You may find some useful items here if you have a leftie in your household. 

What determines Hand Dominance?  

Many studies and research over the years have found that there are several genes that contribute toward handedness and the rest is up to environmental factors. Two Right-handed Parents have only a 2% chance of producing left-handed children but statistics show, that if both parents are left-handed, 50% of their offspring will be left-handed! 

Switching hands? 

If your child’s hand dominance hasn’t yet emerged, you can assist them by showing them some simple fine/gross motor & everyday activities to strengthen those neural/hand connections. It’s like anything really-if you don’t get enough practice you won’t have consolidated the activity or skill. 

While doing some of these activities below, try to encourage the use of their preferred hand, observe which hand your child uses- remembering not to tell them which hand to use, rather let them find which feels comfortable themselves. It’s also important not to discourage your child from using their left hand. 

  • Gross motor: Throwing a ball or bean bags, skittles, hitting a balloon & sandpit play 
  • Fine motor: Cutting with scissors, craft, threading beads onto string, Lego & drawing 
  • Every day: Brushing teeth/hair, using fork/spoon, opening bottles & doing zips on clothing and bags 

Sometimes difficulties finding their handedness or using the right hand on the right side & left hand on the left side may indicate other issues with their Bilateral coordination (eg-Catching a ball or holding a cup with two hands), Crossing the midline (eg-moving hands across their body) or arm fatigue.   

Dominance…Hand dominance

Left-handed facts 

It is thought that because Left-handers can use both sides of their brain more readily, they can process information coming into their brain in different ways more easily. Studies & research show that left-handers out perform right-handers in mathematical skills/puzzles and are better at problem-solving. There are 8 former US Presidents who have been left-handed, including George Bush Snr, Bill Clinton & Barack Obama. 

Some other famous ‘lefties’ include Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Queen Elizabeth, Sir Paul McCartney, Robert Di Niro, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates & Mark Zuckerburg. 

Famous Australian left-handers include Rod Laver, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman & Alan Border.

Left-handers are more likely to be geniuses-20% of all MENSA members report being left-handed 

Scientific Left-handed facts:

25 Amazing Facts About Left Handed People

International Left-handers day is August 13th, celebrating all things ‘leftie’ of course! 

Our Mini Jets classes provide so many of these ‘foundation movement’ opportunities to develop your childs’ hand preference such as crossing the midline, bilateral coordination and fine/gross motor skills like the ones we’ve mentioned in our blog.  

If you have any concerns regarding your childs’ development or Hand dominance, please discuss with your GP or Occupational Therapist.                                                                                                                   

References: Royal Children’s Hospital, occupationaltherapychildren.com.au, betterhealth.vic.gov.au, verywellfamily.com, leftyfretz.com, hit.com.au, springchicken.co.uk, medicalnewstoday.com  

BACK IN THE GYM: 

In our ‘Sportsperson’ theme, we’ll be combining skills we’ve learned at gymnastics with some gross motor activities such as throwing, jumping, balancing and rolling and then applying them in our awesome sporty circuits. After all, Gymnastics is the foundation for all sports! 

If you see me on: 

PLATFORM, TUMBLE TRAMP AND TRAMPOLINE – We’re doing donkey kicks, ½ turns and backdrops. We’ll also be rebounding, sprinting and balancing on our surfboards. 

FLOOR – Our forward and backward rolls are always a work in progress and we’re really starting to improve on these as the Term rolls on. Our arm strength will be tested swinging on the rope and we’ll be focusing on hip rotation in our cartwheel block hop. You may also see us swimming and jumping over some hurdles! 

BARS – Watch us practice some glide swings with our feet on the octagon. We’ll possum walk building our overall body strength and the backward roll on rings will be lots of fun! We’re also trying out some volleyball. 

BALANCE BEAM – This week on the beam we’re focusing on our step kicks and split jumps. We’ll pretend to be Gymnasts, Basketballers, Martial Artists and Bowlers! Wow! What a week on beam! 

*In week 2 of our Sportsperson theme-we’ll be presenting our Mini Jets with their very own Jets medal on the podium at the end of class! There will be opportunities for a photo of your amazing little sports star! 

NEXT WEEK- ‘Emergency 000’