Anything Left-Handed > Left handed children > Changing Left to Right

The effects of making a left-hander write right-handed

Natural left-handers should always be left to develop in their own way and be allowed to write left-handed if that is their choice.   Forcing them to change hands and write right-handed can have very bad effects in later life as well as being traumatic at the time and ruining their handwriting!

Brain organisation - left and right hemispheres and hand controlThe dominant writing hand is not just a physical thing to do with controlling a pen but a mental thing to do with the way the brain is organised and where certain functions occur.   The brain is “cross-wired” to the body so the left handed side of the brain controls the right hand side of the body and the right side of the brain controls the left. Changing the hand used for writing causes great confusion in the   brain and can have a lot of knock-on effects.

Here are some articles we have written on this subject:

These are some of the effects people have reported to us from being forced to change their writing hand as a child:
  • Bad handwriting
  • Bed-wetting
  • Stuttering
  • Nail biting
  • Shyness and being withdrawn
  • Defiance and provocative behaviour
  • Poor concentration
  • Bad memory
  • Reading difficulties
  • Problems with spelling
  • Neurotic personality
  • Physical tiredness

These problems will not definitely occur in all people who have their writing hand changed and of course they can arise due to many other causes, but there does seem to be an association between all of these issues and a forced change of writing hand.   Our correspondents have also mentioned being bullied at school as a result of these effects.

Forcing a left-hander to change and use their right hand for writing is a very bad thing to do – please don’t do it!

We received an email recently with a personal story that really shows the serious impact this can have on people and made us think about this again.   It is included in its entirety below:

From: Tonya
Subject: My mom forced me to write right-handed

I was looking up this subject because I’ve been trying to teach my right-handed son to tie his shoes, and since I tie my shoes left-handed I’m not much help to him. I also eat with my left, and when I was in gymnastics my left side was my dominant side.  Yet I write right-handed, and can recall my mother snatching pencils out of my left hand and saying, “No! We write with our RIGHT–see? That rhymes. Use your right hand!”  I remember it feeling weird, but I did as I was told.  I had a bed-wetting phase but always thought it was due to other things, such as being angry with my parents for other matters but in our household children were not permitted to express anger.  I’ve suffered anxiety and bouts of clinical depression my whole life–and PPD after the birth of my 1st baby–and until reading articles about it today never thought it could all go back to being left-converted. Wow. As an adult, I do get mentally tired easily, and fatigued sometimes for seemingly no reason.  As a child I did not stutter, but as an adult I find speaking very difficult–I can write well and easily express what I want to say in writing….but I search for words when speaking and get all tongue-tied. I’m very   introverted and soooo socially awkward.  Oh and I flunked out of typing class in high school! Hahaha.  Never could play the piano, either.  So, after reading some articles, I can see a connection, for myself, between the studied effects and my own conversion to writing right-handed. Definitely.

Your Left handed Child eBook For more information on this and all aspects of being left handed as a child and how to help left-handed children get past some of the basic challenges they will face with writing, cutting and other activities at school, download Lauren’s book “Your Left-Handed Child”.Also covers:* Development of left-handedness
* Pre-school development
* Strategies for everyday life
* Left-handedness in school
* Sport
* Music
* Practical and educational resourcesDownload Lauren’s book “Your Left-Handed Child”

Please add any of your own experiences or links to related material as comments below.

We would also be very interested in your comments on changes in the other direction – natural right-handers being forced to write left-handed as a result of physical problems such as an accident or stroke that means the cannot use their right hand (assuming nobody would have the audacity to change a right-hander to write left-handed just because of prejudice, religious views or some sense of what they should do to be “normal”!).



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361 comments on “Changing Left to Right
  1. Oli says:

    Thank you for this article! My mom never knew that she was left handed until she was 30, and my dad noticed that she was surprisingly good at doing things with her left hand. He brought it up to my grandmother. Turns out, my mom used to be “strongly left handed” (whatever that means), and my grandmother, afraid of being seen with a left handed daughter, didn’t let my mother do anything with her left hand until she became right handed. (keep in mind that this was in rural China, during the 70s- there was a lot of stigma and very little education about these things)

    Until the day my dad asked about it, no one apart from my grandmother had known that my mom was born left handed, and not even she herself remembered it. But unfortunately it had many long lasting effects on her. She always had difficulties with reading, or rather understanding what she reads. She’s very intelligent and was actually quite a talented writer while in school. But she just couldn’t understand she was reading unless she could visualize it. She has gotten better at handling this as she has grown older, but even now it’s still an issue.

    She can’t ride a bike- she tells me that when she tried to learn to ride one, the left side of her body would suddenly go numb and she would lose control. She says that when speaking to people she don’t know well, her mouth would sometimes go crooked and she would start to drool. She has trouble telling faces apart, and she can’t tell apart cars at all, not even our family’s own car which we have owned for years. There are other things too.

    Of course we don’t know for sure if all those things are because she was forced to be right handed, but it seems probable. Especially considering it was done at such a young age. It’s bad enough with young children, but I can’t even imagine the damage that would’ve been done to a baby/toddler whose brain was developing so much. I’m very glad that attitudes toward lefties have improved since my mom’s time, because the effects of forcing someone to be a righty are awful.

  2. Dee says:

    Hello, thank you for this information. I also was left handed and was forced into becoming right handed. I was not allowed to use my left hand for anything including writing. It has caused confusion in my mind and brain my understanding, dyslexia, throughout my life and a feeling of backwardness, that everything is backwards. I have been shy and introverted most all of my life. It has never felt natural to me to be right handed even less to have been converted to it.

  3. Alex Stark says:

    I was left handed when first going to school. My left hand was hit by a ruler by the teacher and forced to be right handed. I had trouble with reading the letters were backward and my brain just didn’t function well. My writing is terrible. When my ex caused a car accident I hit my head on the window. Interestingly that I could only write with my left hand until my brain healed

    • Patricia Overbey says:

      I was not hit with a ruler, but in kindergarten/ 1st grade my hand was tied to the chair so I could not use it [public school] I do a lot with my left hand. I write with my right hand [my hand writing is horrible] A lot of difficulties as a result. Never should you change what God has created. Merry Christmas & a Happy Healthy New Year to all. PEACE ON EARTH