Left hand dominance in twins and triplets

teaching twins to write

Author: Tarryn Dee from My Diffability Australia

Did you know that being left-handed can be the result of genetics as well as your surrounding environment? Males are more likely than females to be left-handed and even more interestingly, in about 20% of identical twins one is right-handed and the other is left-handed. 

I am an occupational therapist with over 10 years of experience in helping children to develop their fine motor skills and pre-writing skills. I am here to share some strategies and activities to help with developing hand dominance, and in particular to make things a little easier for the little lefties in our lives. Whether a child is left-handed or right-handed, it is still important for them to develop the use of a tripod pencil grasp.  This grasp is where the index finger and thumb pinch together and rest on the middle finger. 

hand dominance in twins

Left hand dominance in twins and triplets

Being left-handed can mean a child may have some challenges when it comes to hand writing. For example, having to push the pencil across the page from left to right instead of being able to pull it from the left side of the paper to the right, which is what right hand dominant people do. 

Here are some ideas to help make writing and fine motor activities a little easier for left-handed kids and students:

Make sure you have a correct pencil grip.

Left-handed children can often benefit from holding the pencil 2 to 3 cm from the tip of the pencil compared to right-handed writers. This allows them to have more visual clarity of what they are writing. This should also help to reduce the likelihood of them smudging their writing. It can be helpful to place a small sticker on the pencil as a visual cue for where they should hold it. 

teaching triplets to write left handed

Use the right hand for stability

This helps to keep the paper from moving around.

Position the paper correctly.

Left-handed people often report that turning the page slightly to the left of centre makes it easier for them to see their strokes as they are drawing and writing.

Consider sitting position.

If your left-handed child sits on the right side of a right-handed person their elbows may bump and clash when they write, so think about who they are sitting next to and their positioning at the table. Same goes for meal times.

twins left handed

Be aware of wrist positioning.

Left hand dominance in twins or triplets means they will often bend their left wrist in a flexion position to help get their hand out of the way to see what they are writing. This can cause early fatigue, pain, as well as legibility difficulties when writing.

Text placement

When teaching lefties to copy letters or words make sure the text that they are copying is written or placed above where they are writing, so they can actually see it. Sometimes school and kinder worksheets place the letter or word to the left side and leave a blank space for the child to write. This makes it really difficult for the left-handed writer to see what they are supposed to be copying, so it’s a helpful idea to copy the letters or words onto the other side of the page for them. 

Left hand dominance in twins and triplets

Left hand dominance in twins and triplets

People can often feel intimidated by the idea of teaching a child who is left-handed how to develop fine motor skills or to improve their handwriting. Please remember that we are supporting all of the same skills here as we would with a right-handed writer, but with some small modifications to make things easier along their pathway of learning to love writing and drawing. 

My Diffability Australia twins

Tarryn Dee

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Co-founder of My Diffability Australia 


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