Anything Left-Handed > Lefty info > The effect of changing left to right handed

The effect of changing left to right handed

For many years, left-handed children were forced by their parents or schools to change hands and at least write right-handed. We have also heard many stories about other activities that have been forcibly changed – from eating to making the sign of the cross in Catholic schools.

We received a note from Kent in the USA that made us think about this again and try to get some more feedback from members on this subject. This is what he had to say:

I was forced to change my writing hand from left to right at a young age and I would like to see feedback from your other readers that were forced to write right handed as to how it affected them. I’m a male in the US and I wet the bed up until the age of 12 and I wonder if that was related. Also the universal opinion of my penmanship is that it is atrocious. I’m 62 now and a few years back I taught myself to write left handed. Although I’m slower left handed (probably less practice) the writing is clearly more legible.

Another thing that has made us think about this is a new film to be release shortly called “The King’s Speech” about UK Monarch George VI (King from 1936 to 1952 and father of our current Queen Elizabeth II), starring Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter. He was a natural left-hander but was forced to write with his right and grew up as a nervous child with a pronounced stammer. The film does not seem to make much of the forced change in handedness, but stuttering is one effect of changing hands that has come up in research before.

There is a good article about the film here:
https://enchantedserenityperiodfilms.blogspot.com/2009/11/kings-speech-2010_14

  • Are you a natural left-hander who was forced to write right handed?
  • Is there anything else that you have been forced to change and do right-handed?
  • What effect did these changes have on you and how have things changed as you have grown up?

Are you aware of any research into this subject, or do you want to undertake any?

Please add a comment to this blog post or use our contact form to send us your thoughts – we will report back in a future newsletter.

You can see an update on this article with more information here

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423 comments on “The effect of changing left to right handed
  1. morag MacPhail says:

    This makes so much sense. I have a cousin now 62 who is badly impaired by being forced to be right handed. His short term memory is poor, he struggles with cutlery, tying shoelaces and balance. Any advice would be welcome. He lives in Glasgow.

  2. Karyn Zapp says:

    The forcing of using my right hand didn’t bother me. I wanted to be like all the other children.
    I haven’t experienced anything because of the switch. I’m 73 now

    • Joe Thompson says:

      At the age of 80 I began switching back to left. I’m almost 84 now and still working at it. Some tasks like eating are more coming naturally, others I have to remind my self. I think a little differently, my dreams make sense. Switching is a fun game i play. Try it.

  3. ANNE MUSGRAVE says:

    I am 83 now. I was forced to change hands. I remember being made to write with my right hand with my left hand tied behind my back. I couldn’t concentrate at school but after about 20 I did extremely well in exams. I am numerically illiterate.I have absolutely no sense of direction. Anything I am free to do, I do with my left hand – ironing, for instance. I paint with my left hand. I can write backwards with my left hand – mirror writing – at the same time as I write normally with my right hand.Useful only as a party trick.

  4. Kathleen Stevens says:

    I was the same forced to right right handed when I was left Result I had a terrible stutter at school and do not no my left from right I’m 71 now and have just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/Demetia

  5. Cynthia says:

    I was forced to become a righty as an infant, so other than being punished frequently for eating with my left hand, I never knew about the forced change until I came face to face with the subject of eye dominance and discovered than I would never be successful in archery or any shooting events b/c I couldn’t decide in which eye I should look in order to aim. I also struggled with chronic ear infections and eventually vertigo and balance issues. It was then that my mom told me how I had been forced to be a right handed baby through slaps on my left hand when I would grab with it instead of the right. I understand why to this day at almost 58 years of age I still sometimes stutter and stammer even though I took speech therapy for more than 5 years in school, why I am still so clumsy and prone to fall so easily, and why my balance is so easily thrown off. Despite the struggles, I fought hard to overcome and actually taught high school math for 29 years, but every year I would share my story with my students so they would know why I sometimes might struggle with speech and balance in class. They were awesome in their understanding and would often steady me if I started to lean too much while at their desks helping with math problems. My first child was born left handed, and I was determined she would be left as God created her to be.

  6. Michael A. McGrath says:

    Well, I’m a 67 years old military retiree. I was raised in an Irish/Polish Catholic family. I went to Catholic school for a very short time, but during that time I was forced to be right-handed.

    Recently, I felt drawn to purchase and learn the Celtic harp (my ancestors were bardic harpers in Ireland). While I was taking harp lessons, my harp instructor noticed that my left hand picked up quicker on the notes and strings on the harp than my right hand did. So, she asked me if I’d been forced to be right-handed when I was a child, to which I replied to the affirmative. She suggested I switch sides on my harp, and play the treble (or dominant hand) with my left hand, and the bass with my right hand. She stated, “If you decide to go left-handed with your treble notes, you cannot go back!”

    So, I did exactly that. My right hand is still struggling, but I’m feeling much more comfortable using my left hand to play the treble notes and chords than I was with my right hand.

    I have been a highly-skilled professional artist, sculptor and potter for most of my life. I’ve often told people, “I’m so right-brained, they call me ‘I-lean!!!” To which I then lean to the right. It’s a joke, but it’s worth paying attention to. I don’t know what might happen to me if I simply started to try to do more with my left hand than I’ve been used to doing. Maybe some things will become more natural.

  7. Clarissa says:

    I am 71 and was smacked every time I used my left hand at my first school leaving me u able to sew or play an instrument. I am now unsteady on my feet and my lack if coordination is much worse.