Both hands are good for brain function

Alternating hand use (two-handed use)

By nature, everyone has two hands, which are usually identical in construction and equipped with comparable sensorimotor representations in the brain. Since one of the two hemispheres is somewhat superior in every human being, there is also a specialization in the area of ​​the hands. The hand belonging to the dominant half of the brain develops into the leading hand. This is more qualified to perform fine tasks and can better store and reproduce motion sequences.


Real two-handed people, i.e. people who are naturally equally skilled with both hands, do not exist in this way. Some people appear that way anyway. There are two reasons for this:

1) Retrained left-handers often refer to themselves as ambidextrous. Mostly they carry out cultural techniques, such as writing, eating, etc., with the right hand, because they have adapted voluntarily or due to social or family pressure. In other areas, such as sports and manual work, they predominantly use the left hand. They are often quite skilled with both hands, but they need more concentration for activities with the non-dominant hand.

2) People with fine motor disorders in the dominant hand (e.g. after an oxygen deficiency during childbirth, after serious accidents, etc., ...) sometimes also feel that they are two-handed. Often your dominant hand is weakened due to a deficit, and the non-dominant hand is more skilled in certain areas. Therefore, there is no clear dominance and one occurs changing(characterized by exchanging the leading hand for the same activity) or unstable(in which different activities are sometimes performed by the right and sometimes the left hand)Hand use. Often these people are rather clumsy when it comes to fine motor skills.

If the fine motor difficulties in the dominant hand are not severe, it is advantageous for the affected child to use this for writing, because the use of the non-dominant hand leads to so-called retraining consequences (problems in the area of ​​memory and concentration). It is important to involve professionals in deciding which hand to use for writing.

Children with developmental delaysAs they are triggered, for example, by chromosome abnormalities (Down syndrome, ...) or perception disorders, sometimes show a two-handed action for a very long time. For them, however, it is also of great importance that they ultimately use the dominant hand for writing so that learning success is not unnecessarily slowed down by the consequences of retraining.

Often refer to themselves retrained left-handers as ambidextrous. Mostly they carry out cultural techniques, such as writing, eating, etc., with the right hand, because they have adapted voluntarily or due to social or family pressure. In other areas, such as sports and manual work, they predominantly use the left hand.

Children whose dominance is not clearly pronounced, should be able to develop unaffected until the age of 5.

Recommendations for parents and educators:
  • Under no circumstances should the child be tied to one hand for the use of pens, cutlery, tools, etc .;
  • Offer material and tools in the middle and leave the child free to choose;
  • allow alternate use of hands during activities without comment;
  • provide material suitable for the left hand in good time and, if necessary, also be able to guide work with it
  • allow reverse working direction;
  • When offering game material, make sure that neither side is preferred.
Special support, e.g. in occupational therapy, can pursue the following goals:
  • active self-regulation of posture and movement;
  • consolidate general motor skills;
  • "Feel the body" stimulate (sensory integration).
In the last year of kindergarten at the latest, it makes sense and is necessary to answer the question of dominance by means of a handedness test according to the Dr. J. B. Sattler to clarify. To leave the choice of the writing hand to the child: "You have to choose a hand. "in any case leads to excessive demands. In addition, there is a high risk that the child will choose the hand that is preferred in his environment.

Text and pictures: Maga Andrea Hayek-Schwarz - 2016

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