Dear Doctor,

We are so lucky to have a 10-month-old, very healthy boy. What we have noticed is his preference for his left hand. If we give him a spoon, we try to place it in his right hand. He will take the spoon, but switch it to his left hand. We are hesitant to tell him to use his right hand, but we hope he will grow into using it. It is a world for right-handed people. Being a left-handed child has its problems. Will our strategy work?

Trying

Dear Trying,

The short answer is “no.”

The derivation of the word “left” is interesting. It usually meant bad. For example, judgment day is depicted with those on the right getting a better deal. Those on the left are cast into a troublesome end.

Parents of very young children often worry their son or daughter will be at a disadvantage if they are left-handed. Since Albert Einstein was left-handed, this argument suffers from lack of evidence. Many famous people have been left-handed, including Plato and Charles Darwin.

Our son was much like your boy. We would hand him a spoon, and he would transfer it to his left hand. He has grown up with two degrees and is still using his left hand as dominant.

There is no coherent theory regarding how this phenomenon came about. The left side of the brain generally controls the right side of the body. There is some rather fragile evidence that mixed dominance in the two hemispheres was a prior evolutionary phenomenon.

Almost any variable has been studied to connect being left-handed with one issue or another. Personally, the studies are generally not consistent or impressive.

So, my advice is relax and hand him his spoon the way he prefers. 

Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, email him at lllrsn@compuserve.net.

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