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Ambidexterity: My Child is Both Right and Left Handed

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Holding the stylis with his left hand while playing on his leap pad.

Using the stylis with his right hand.

My 3-year-old is playing a game on his leap pad as he switches between his right and left hand with grace. And he’s perfectly positioned the stylis between his fingers. I didn’t teach him that. Yet ambidexterity is something I’d suspected since he was about one year old.

Let me regress briefly to a devastating moment. When he was about 11 months old, he grabbed my curling iron with his right (dominant) hand and burned it. I didn’t even know he was in the same room with me until I heard him scream. At the ER, he was bandaged up and sent home. The following week, he favored his left hand during meal and play times. He’s been switching back and forth between hands ever since.

But I never saw ambidexterity as clearly as I do now. I have mixed feelings of guilt and awe as I watch him eloquently draw with both hands.

After a bit of research I learned two things: Those who are ambidextrous can be successful in tasks that require both hands such as playing a keyboard (cool, he loves music) and performing surgery (wow!). Then I read something else that brought me down to earth with a thud. They are also at risk of cognitive disorders because their brains are too symmetrical.

Ambidexterity in Children

Kids who are ambidexterous are symetrical on both sides of the brain. If they are too symmetrical then they may have cognitive problems such as ADHD. It isn’t the fact that ambidexterity causes ADHD, but how how the brain works in relation to ambidexterity. The brain working symetrically has its problems and causes ADHD.

Source:

I also learned that left-handed people become ambidextrous to adapt to living in a right-handed world. And right-handed people learn to use both hands after an injury to their right arm or hand (like a burn, ugh). Only about one in 100 people are born with ambidexterity.

6 Comments

  1. Hey there! My dear daughter is also ambidextrous. She has been showing signs the earliest signs as an infant. Thinking as she aged she would grow into one hand or the other. At 4 years of age, DD will write/eat/ draw with her left hand. She blows bubbles, throws balls, kicks soccer balls with her right hand/foot. Currently, she plays the piano with both hands not having a problem play with both hands at the same time.

    A while back I had read about the higher risk of ADHD, this freaked me out also. What calmed me down is the fact that at this moment my dear daughter is advanced for her age compared to her peers and readiness for school. Also, I take a look into see if my daughter exhibits signs of ADHD, at the moment she does not.

    Plus, studies on children’s ambidexterity are rare. Mostly because ambidexterous in children/adult is rare itself.

    I bet you little guy will be just fine!!

    • That’s pretty amazing that your DD was born that way. Thanks for the peace of mind as you are correct; there’s not much info out there about ambidexterous children. Also, is your DD taking piano lessons? That’s fantastic!

  2. Hi,
    My son is 4 an he has been ambidextrous since day one! As fascinating as I find his talent, I am also a bit frustrated. His handwriting is pretty sloppy for both hands, but he clearly does not favor one over the other. In fact he switches back and forth mid word, and during meal time eats half his meal with his left, and half with his right. I am at a loss as far as how to teach him to write, but time is of the essence! I know I do not want to force him into choosing, and I always warn his teachers not to either. Any ideas are welcomed!

    • How wonderful that your son is writing at age 4! I am challenged to encourage my son to write his name, even a suggestion to write the letter A is met with a stubborn “no.” He only colors and scribble-scrabbles (with both hands, of course). However, I’m learning to accept and appreciate the fact that he at least scribbles, and cheer him on. Today, I spoke with his pediatrician who said he is sure to advance quickly when he starts pre-school, and I will see a huge improvement soon enough. I’ve heard this from many friends as well. I’m sure your son will find his way soon too. I would certainly speak to his pediatrician to calm your concerns. Best to you :)

  3. My daughter is also ambidextrous,though she writes with her left hand. She will often erase a drawing with her right and eat with her right. My husband is right-handed but “left-footed” for soccer so I wonder if some of it comes from there. I’m glad to know about music, because I am definitely weaker on my left hand in piano, but we’re both musicians so maybe she’ll have an even better musical advantage. I wouldn’t worry, there are numerous things that could cause ADHD and I’m not so sure that symmetrical brains are so bad, though I’ll do some research on it. Yay for our “interesting” kiddos!

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement. How wonderful that you and your husband are both musicians with an ambidextrous daughter. Sounds like she’s definitely going to have an edge in the musical world. Best to you :)

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