What is right handed and left handed and How to discover

Right handed and left handed

First, know that being right-handed or left-handed is not a choice. Can you learn? Yes. But handedness is genetic, so it’s harder to become efficient with the non-dominant hand. You may remember that it was “ cool ” to write with your left hand as a teenager.

In fact, many people were training to achieve this feat. After all, left-handers are “different” — only 10 to 12% of the world’s population is left-handed. Because of this, they even gained a date: the World Left Handers Day, celebrated on August 13th.

But this was not always the case: left-handers have a history of stigmatization that spans millennia. Just to give you an idea, having the dominant left was called “sinistrism” for a long time, and the word sinister also relates to “suspicious”, “threatening” or even “unlucky”.

How to discover the dominant side of the little one?

Now, did you know that being right-handed or left-handed goes beyond your dominant hand for writing? When we talk about dominant laterality, we mean the whole body. This is where the superior method we mentioned to discover the side most used by your child arises.

The name is a curse word of respect: Harris Lateral Dominance Test, which determines the dominant side from “hand-foot-eye”. It’s easy: just apply some exercises and stimuli to see which hand, foot or eye your child prefers to use, or observe motor behavior in  games and activities .

1. Start by looking at the little hands

In everyday life, pay attention to the little hand your child uses most when picking up toys, putting sweets (I mean vegetables!) in his mouth, scratching his head when he is sleepy, etc. Also, you can use controlled stimuli to do these analyses.

In the original Harris test — which you can check out in the article on manual, ocular and forelimb laterality , produced by researchers from federal universities —, children were instructed to show how they used a series of objects placed in front of them, such as :

  • throwing a tennis ball;
  • wind up a wind-up watch;
  • hammering a nail (careful here, eh!);
  • to brush your teeth;
  • brushing your hair;
  • turn a doorknob on a miniature door (or it could be a real one);
  • blow your nose with a handkerchief;
  • cut paper with scissors;
  • cut something using a knife (no tip!);
  • Use school supplies such as pens, pencils and erasers.

2. Start experimenting with vision

Another way to discover the dominant side of the little one is to observe which eye he prefers when aiming. For this purpose, what was done in the Harris test was to hand the child a sheet of cardboard rolled up, forming a tube, to see if he/she would take this “scope” to the left or right eye.

This demonstrates which side the little one prefers when he needs a closer look. You can make up a pirate story or invite the child to play stargazing and take this test.

3. It is also worth looking at the impulses with the feet

In the last step of the Harris test, attention is focused on the forelimbs. It is enough to observe which foot the child uses to kick, if the ball is stopped in front of him. Another tip is to ask the little one to balance on one foot if he is bigger — normally, we prefer the dominant leg for this.

In addition to these three steps of the Harris test, you can discover your child’s dominant side by observing which way he tends to turn his head more often, which ear he uses to talk on the phone (which can be fake) or which side he lean against the wall if you ask him to listen to you.

With these tips, you have a good arsenal of exercises to find out if your little one is right-handed or left-handed. In addition, he learned that the subject is very important, as it has a direct impact on the motor and psychological development of children.

Why is it important to discover the dominant side of the child?

If you are willing to read more on the subject, in Dr. Antonio Barros Filho, from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), he discusses the phenomenon of dominant laterality and the implications for child development.

He brings some studies that indicate that the child already shows signs of which is his dominant side from the age of 2. Now, the full definition of whether the little one is right-handed or left-handed takes place around the age of 5. In the meantime, the influence of the environment can change the child’s laterality.

That’s what happens if she’s forced to use one side more than the other functionally — which is common, see? Especially for naturally left-handed children. But therein lies a big problem, as this can lead to what specialists call “disagreeing laterality” or “inversion of laterality”.

According to the research gathered by the researcher, interfering with the natural development of the dominant side of children can lead to motor problems, difficulties in space-time orientation and losses in school performance .

The researcher explains that, from 3-4 years old, the child begins to have a motor education, with literacy activities. If she is oriented to use one of her hands as predominant that does not correspond to her natural hand, she will have laterality disorders, which, up to the age of 7, can lead to difficulties in writing.

In addition to the worst: negative psychological impacts, since there may be shocks in children’s self-esteem due to the difficulty in learning to write. Anguish, feelings of rejection and insecurity are consequences that end up coming together.

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