Right or Left?
“I guess that means she’s going to be left handed?” Is what the daycare teacher said today when I asked if she had noticed a child only using her left hand. Her mom said the same thing when I called her attention to the lack of using the other side.
Red Flag! Red Flag! Red Flag!
Why? A strong preference for one side or the other before 18 months is generally a warning sign of a neurological issue. When it is noticed, it’s usually because the kiddo isn’t using the other hand at all, or only in a very basic way.
This friend in particular opens and closes both of her hands at will, but never reaches out for toys with the right hand. Nor will she hold items, including her bottle (hint hint) with two hands at her center.
I pointed out her struggle with the bottle and holding toys with two hands because those require the two sides of the brain to ‘talk’. Both hemispheres need to be firing appropriately and in sync to complete a task at the middle of the body, or reaching across the body.
Children should not develop a sole preference for either hand, known as ‘handedness’ until around Kindergarten age, close to 3 or 4 years of age. This is because we start asking them to specialize and refine their fine motor skills by drawing, coloring and cutting. Tasks that require them to cross the center of their body. Though some kids wait until they are closer to 7 to become proficient with a single side. (Check out the website Right Left Right Wrong for the related studies.)
A child usually has one hand he prefers to eat with or is more adept at picking things up with, but he should still be TRYING WITH THE OTHER HAND. That’s the point here. If a kid is only using a hand as a support or in a non purposeful way, then we need to get checked out.