Handedness is the predominant use of one hand over the other to perform most tasks. It indicates the comfortability of using one hand instead of the other to perform simple tasks like eating, picking up things to complicated tasks like writing.
There are two factors that determine handedness- Preference and proficiency in use. Most infants, till about the age of six months are ambi– dexterous, that is, they use both hands to do tasks. By the age of around 2 years, the child starts showing preference to use one hand over the other. This decides his /her handedness. Therefore, the preschool years are crucial in determining whether a child is right or left handed.
It is always better to know or look out for signs that indicate the hand preference of the child, so that sitting arrangements, activities can be tweaked accordingly, Parents. Certain indicators to determine handedness are- the hand that the child uses to reach out to things in front of her, the hand used for eating. Stirring (water or other material) counterclockwise can mean left-handedness. Which hand does he use to groom himself- combing hair, holding the toothbrush?
Although a majority of the population is right-handed, almost 10% of the population is left-handed. Handedness is also a hereditary trait. If any member of the family is left-handed, there is a good chance that there will be others in the family who are left-handed too.
In our society, there is a preference to use the right hand for performing certain tasks, such as, eating, shaking hands, saluting the flag etc. Left-handers are generally trained to perform these tasks with their right hand as it doesn’t come naturally to them. Although ‘forcing’ a left-handed child to use the right hand for these limited tasks will not be harmful, it is best and advisable not to push the child to use the right hand for other complicated tasks like writing as it may affect the learning ability of the child and affect his/ her self- confidence.