By Carma Haley Shoemaker
One in every 10 people is left-handed, and males are one and a half times more likely to be left-handed then females, according to Lefthanders International. Medical researchers have looked long and hard for what causes people to be left- or right-handed. Their answer? The same reason why brown-eyed people have brown eyes: genes that manifest their trait one out of every 10 chances. With 90 percent of the population being right-handed, how can parents help their "lefty" learn to successfully navigate his or her world?
On the Other Hand
What do left-handed people do differently that distinguishes them from right-handed people so dramatically? According to Martha Pieper, co-author of "Smart Love" and columnist for the Chicago Parent, being left-handed means simply having a preference for using the left hand for a variety of tasks, including reaching, throwing, pointing and catching.
"Stating someone is left-handed also implies a preference for using the left foot for kicking, to begin walking, running and bicycling," says Pieper. "There are no hard and fast rules for determining which hand or foot the lefthander prefers to use for a particular task. Most will prefer to use the left hand or foot for delicate work. They may also have a dominant left eye, preferring to use the left eye for telescopes, camera sights and microscopes." Pieper says that, in general, being left-handed means having a dominant right side of the brain.
In past societies, there was no sympathy for left-handed persons. Lefthanders International shares stories of children forced to change their dominant hand in fear for their life, their safety and their acceptance. As left-handedness was seen as a curse, children caught using their left hand for reaching and grabbing were often scolded and forced to use their right hand in order to make it dominant. This was an enormous effort for both parent and child.