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Hand dominance

What is hand dominance?

It’s the hand that you use to write and perform most activities.

How to help your child establish hand dominance

It’s important to encourage daily activities that need forceful or continued use of one hand. You should do this without telling your child which hand to use.

For example, put materials at their midline (directly in front of the middle of their torso). Allow your child to choose and switch their hand freely whilst engaging in activities.

Activities to establish hand dominance

These include:

  • scribbling on a chalkboard
  • scribbling or drawing on mural paper taped to an easel, the wall or floor
  • hammering wood that’s clamped to a surface
  • pounding a large ball of clay with one hand until it’s flat
  • swinging a ball on a string above head
  • throwing small balls or beanbags with one hand.

After several weeks of daily undirected hand activity, see if your child uses one hand more frequently for one handed activities. Also, notice if they use one hand more consistently when grasping pens, pencils and scissors, for example.

Activities to develop hand dominance

When you see your child has a preference for one hand, or one hand clearly has superior motor control, encourage them to use it with assistance from their the non-dominant hand.

For example:

  • drawing, writing, or painting with their dominant hand, stabilising the paper with the other hand
  • cutting with the dominant hand, stabilising and turning paper with the other
  • using their dominant hand to build towers with blocks, stabilising and helping to keep blocks lined up with the other hand
  • tracing or scribbling over templates, holding their writing implement with their dominant hand while stabilising paper with the other
  • opening containers such as jars or plastic containers with lids that need stabilisation with the dominant hand and action with the non dominant hand.