Forcing A Left-Handed Child To Be Right Handed: A Good Idea?

For several decades, probably longer, it was believed that those who were left-hand dominant were weaker or lesser than those who were right-hand dominant. As a teacher, I’ve seen many parents, teachers, and authority figures for decades try to force left-hand dominant children to use their right hands to the detriment of the children. 

Forcing someone to use their non-dominant hand for long periods of time or forcing that hand to become dominant is not a good idea. It can be detrimental to how the brain and body function. Being forced to use the wrong hand can cause disruption to complete actions, thoughts, and memories. 

While some people do not experience severe side-effects from this, there is a large portion of people who do. When you consider the small percentage of those who are born left-handed, and then the large portion of those have side-effects, it is more negatively impactful than others realize. 

Is Being Left-Hand Dominant Wrong?

While, in the past, people have been made to use their right-hand even if they are left-hand dominant due to prejudice and outdated thought process that left-hand people are “lesser than.” However, those thought processes are extremely wrong and not based on anything other than the likes and dislikes of other people. 

So, there is nothing wrong, in any shape, way, or form with being left-hand dominant. Those who are naturally left-hand dominant should continue to use their dominant hand as such. They will lead a much happier and fulfilled life using the hand their bodies are made to use.  

Without left-handed or left-brained people in the world, we would be reduced to only one way of thinking. Those who are left-handed usually have such different outlooks on the world and how to process issues or situations. Without these people in the world, there are problems that would go unsolved. 

There are many great martial artists, boxers, and sports stars that are left handed. Training in the martial arts is a good way to strengthen coordination in your dominiate hand while simultaneously training your other side. This helps with balance and performance on many levels.

To see how your child can benefit from training in Karate online, right from your own home, on vacation, or from anywhere in the world, click on this link to find out more information on my husbands classes.

Why Would You Force Someone To Use Their Left Hand?

Throughout history in the United States, many people who were left-hand dominant were forced to use their right hand for everything in the hopes that it would become their dominant one. In several countries, it is still common practice for teachers, doctors, and parents to train their kids to use the right hand over the left. 

The question is, why? The issue with someone being left-hand dominant is mostly due to prejudice and circumstances that can not be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. It is believed that left-hand dominant people are regularly associated with mental, emotional, and learning disabilities. 

While there are cases of people with these issues that happen to be left-hand dominant, it has not been tied to the idea that it is because they are left-hand dominant. The small percentage of people who are dominant left-hand feeds into this thinking. 

Most of the time, forcing a child to use the right hand instead of their left has actually been proven to show that the change in dominant hands causes mental, emotional, and learning issues. 

Outdated Language and Left-hands

In many dialects and languages, there are usually words associated with meaning left and right, but end up also meaning other things that enforce the idea that left-hands are the wrong hands to use. For example:

  • In English, “right” is synonymous with “correct.”
  • In English, the word “sinister” actually means “left” or “the other side of right.”
  • In German, the word “linkisch” means “related to the left” and “awkward.”
  • In Mandarin and Chinese, the words for “wrong and correct” are synonymous with “right and left.”

These language norms only enforce the idea that left-hand dominant people are wrong, or at the very least, awkward and lesser than those who are right-hand dominant. 

Outdated Cultural Norms

In many cultures across the world, it is believed that left-hand dominant people are cursed or hand bad luck that follows them throughout their life. It is likely that in several cultures, it will be very difficult to find someone that is okay with marrying a dominant left-hand person. 

In other cultures, particularly Japanese, it is believed that using your left hand is a sign of disrespect, and those who do so had been verbally, and in some cases, physically disciplined for it. While the overall idea that left-hand people need to be retrained to use their right hand has died down among professionals, it is still a widely accepted practice in general culture. 

Retraining And The Practice

For the sake of informing and making people knowledgeable, retraining is the act where you put someone through therapy or rigorous exercises to retrain a physical, mental, or emotional problem—in this case, retraining someone to use their right hand instead of their left. 

In decades past, people had been put through physical, emotional, and mental hardships, or torture, simply to make them use their right hand as the dominant one. In several recorded therapy notes from fifty years ago, people were even strapped to a chair and physically punished if they did not use their right hand. 

While this may seem severely outdated, it is not too far off from what is still happening today, quietly, all over the world. Most of these practices are out of parents simply trying to teach their child the correct way to do things. 

However, these things are not necessary. There are no links to any mental, emotional, or mental issues simply because you are left-hand dominant. 

What Determines Your Dominant Hand?

Unfortunately, science doesn’t quite know why some people are left-handed, and some are right-handed. Even after years that focused specifically on left-hand dominant people, there have not been any links to left-handed people that are enough evidence to prove that anything actually contributes to it. 

Causes Of Left-Handedness

There are, however, quite a few theories that suggest some of the causes of why some are born left-hand dominant. While none of these theories have been tested or proven enough to be considered factual, they are theories that have been seen enough to be a hypothesis. 


No matter what hand is the dominant one, everyone has a collection of genes that add up to one hand being the more dominant. While science has proven that it is not one gene but rather a collection of a large number of genes, they still are not sure what genes contribute and which ones do not. 

They have not even been able to effectively assume the dominant hand of a child whose parents were both left or right, or either. It has almost looked as if every time a baby is born, it is a gamble as to what hand they will prefer. 

Brain Damage

To a very small portion of scientists, the belief exists that everyone is actually meant to be right-hand dominant, but a brain injury or issue early in life, even in the womb, causes an anomaly or dominant left-hand tendencies. 

This doesn’t have any scientific backing, other than a few cases of people who had injuries and ended up using the opposite hand once they recovered. 


Even though it is common for two right-handed parents to have a left-handed child, some theories suggest that children learn to use their left hand by watching their left-hand dominant parents. This also does not have much scientific backing but is a popular theory nonetheless. 


There is a slightly higher number of males with left-hand dominance than females, which suggests to a scientist that the male hormone, testosterone, may have something to do with what hand becomes dominant. 

Females are born with some testosterone in their systems, so it could be that those who have naturally higher levels become left-handed. 

Fetal Development 

Some theories suggest that what the fetus is exposed to in-utero may have something to do with which hand becomes dominant. However, the thousands of things the baby is exposed to inutero are hard to narrow down enough for a scientist to figure out which exposure caused it. 

In the most basic terms, scientists can not find enough links to those who are left-hand dominant and what exposures or genes are causing this to happen. It could just be that some people are born like this, and they are made that way; however, science is determined to find an explanation. 

In trying to find links from an environmental, gene, or mental composures that caused someone to be left-hand dominant, all science has really found is that we only see the issues if we try to teach someone to use the opposite hand. They ultimately learned that the only problems we have are if we try to change how people act. 

Side Effects From Forcing A Child To Use Their Left-Hand

When you regularly force a child to use the hand that their brain has not designated as the dominant hand, you stand the chance of causing side-effects on the primary levels such as:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Psychological 

These side effects can last on a short or long-term basis and can cause issues that need therapy or extra training to correct. 


When we are developing our personalities and likes and dislikes, our brains develop a particular way of thinking, left-brained or right-brained.  The dominant hand that we use is believed to be linked to what side of the brain we use for our dominant thinking. 

When we forced someone to use the hand that is not dominant, we interrupt the way their brain naturally thinks and processes things. This can cause our body to reject the habits we try to force, and some side-effects can occur. Some examples of long-term side-effects are:

  • Permanent bad handwriting
  • Issues concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Stuttering
  • Constant Fatigue
  • Neurotic Personality

While any of these side-effects can be fixed with therapy, there are some people that were never able to get over these issues after being forced to use their non-dominant hand. 


While long-term side effects can be much more detrimental to the ability to live a normal life than short-term side-effects, they are still things that need to be heavily considered and looked at as important and crucial to your health. 

Some short-term side effects can be:

  • Nail-biting
  • Bedwetting
  • Shyness or being withdrawn
  • Physical fatigue
  • Spelling or writing issues
  • Disruptive behavior

These short-term side-effects can be warning signs for deeper rooted issues that can become dangerous to a person’s personality and everyday life. While most of these things won’t stick with a person forever, they are likely to evolve into something more significant and more impactful. 

Most people who are forced to use their right hand instead of their left are made to believe that the symptoms they experience are typical for everyone their age. However, after some of these people have grown and started looking for answers about their long-term side effects, they have discovered it stems from being forced to change dominant hands. 

While it may come from good intentions on the parent’s side, this is a situation in which doing something like this would be considered taking too much control over someone. Forcing someone to change something because of a stigma or non-science based perceived notion is an overreach of power and toxicity. 

It should also be mentioned that retraining a child to use their right hand to be the dominant one can cause such terrible ramifications throughout their life that may cause them to seek therapy. The issues that people fear stem from left-hand dominance is often not worth the issues that stem from retraining someone. 

Daily Problems For Left-Handers

Due to the stigma created several decades ago, most of the things that were invented or created are solely created with the dominant right-hand people in mind. This creates a problem for those who are naturally left-handed in a world that now knows we shouldn’t force a child to change this. 

Some problems that left-hand dominant people will deal with are:

  • Writing in western civilization from left-to-right means left-handed people will smudge their writing as they write. Amazon has notebooks designed specifically for left-handed people.
  • Tools that are made for woodworking, welding, or metal works are usually right-handed friendly. If you search purposefully, you will find tools designed for left-handed people, like these found on Amazon.
  • Scissors are made for right-hand comfort. These scissors found at Amazon are perfect for lefties.
  • Stigmas about learning deficits and lack of ability to do things

In today’s world, it is becoming more common to find daily tools and processes that are specifically for left-hand dominant people. Kids need to grow up knowing that.

Left Brain Vs. Right Brain

Our daughter, Alexis, is proud to be an artistic lefty who also majors in biological sciences at LSU.

Based on research done throughout the years, it seems that those who are left-hand dominant are more left-brain thinkers than right brain. Their brains, nervous and empathetic systems are hardwired to the left-brain type of thinking. 

Forcing someone who is naturally left-hand dominant to use their right-hand can cause their brain and body to almost “malfunction” in some senses. You can train someone to use their right hand, but you can’t train someone to ignore the way they are made to think and process things. 

Left BrainRight Brain
Logic OrientedDetail focusedFactual thinking over-imaginative thinkingWords and languageFocuses on present and pastMath & Science focusedComprehends big ideasKnows thingsPattern-like perceptionGood name recall for people or objectsReality-based thinkingPresents strategiesPractical about lifeSafeEmotion orientedBig-picture focusImaginative thinkingSymbols and picturesPresent and futuristic thinkingReligion and philosophy focused.Gets meanings behind big ideasBelieves thingsSpatial perception Function-based recallFantasy or imaginative based thinkingPresents possibilitiesImpulsive about lifeRisk-taking personality

The left-brain people are usually less creative and better suited for an office job or daily tasks oriented jobs, while a right-brained person is generally creative, and they do better in environments where their creativity is encouraged and used in positive roles. 

The idea that you need to re-training someone who is left-hand dominant only hurts their processing ability and the future of those around them. If we disrupt their way of thinking and everything that is affected by that, we could be training someone right out of their ability to cure cancer or create energy without any pollutants. 

The world needs people who think and act differently. Without that, we would be a boring world with no solutions to several problems. Left left-hand people be happy left-hand people and focus on bigger problems or let them solve them. 

Final Thoughts

In several cultures, it is customary for the thought process to be that left-hand dominant people are the wrong ones. Left-hand use is seen as disrespectful or bad luck, and in some cases, even associated with witchcraft. 

While retraining someone to use their right-hand is a common practice all over the world, science has discovered that the things people believe about left-hand dominant people are usually only true if they continue to try and retrain them.


Readers Digest

Anything Left-Handed

Better Health

The Journal Of Neuroscience

John Hopkins Press

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