Encourage Hand Dominance
Any activity that encourages the different movements of each hand will
encourage the development of hand dominance. These activities
should be repeated over time to provide practice and to help the child
develop his or her skills sufficiently to develop an awareness of which
hand is more skilled. These activities make the child decide on which
hand to use to do the activity and which hand assists or holds.
lids on and off
jars, screwing pipe fittings together, assembling nuts and
bolts. To add interest to screwing lids off, hide small
or stickers inside for the child to "discover".
or other building type toys - one hand must hold and the other
manipulates the piece into position.
a car or train
around a track. You can draw a pathway or
"streets" on a
long piece of paper. This works wonderfully, because as the child moves
the car, he ends up crawling and naturally stabilizing his weight on
the non-dominant hand.
use such as hammering
or using a screwdriver. Children's toy
great and safe way for children to practice their manipulative skills.
as tongs, large tweezers, a strawberry huller or clothes pin to pick up
objects. A kitchen tool called a pickle fork to pick up pom
works beautifully to force that decision on which hand to use and
children love playing with it!!
beans salt or noodles with a spoon into containers. Try both hands,
watching to see which one is more skilled.
pennies, buttons, beans, skewers cut into one inch lengths or other
small items which require use of a refined pincer grasp (ie. holding
the item between the pad of the index finger and pad of the
thumb). Then try putting the items into a small
slot cut in the lid of a yogurt container. Alternate hands
the task and watch the quality of movement.
small pieces of paper. One hand has to stabilize
or it slips all around.
to provide opportunities for the child to practice his/her ball
skills. Try rolling balls, catching, tossing balls into a
container. Be sure to start with a ball large
the child feels comfortable with and moving smaller as his/her skills
progress. You may also try these activities with
beanbags. In using large balls, children learn to use their
symmetrically, working together. Smaller balls will elicit
of one hand emerging as the dominant one. Positioning the container
higher up in relation to the child helps to encourage extension of the
wrist with pronation (palms down position) of the hand.
cards, hand sewing
encourages the use of a dominant hand. Lacing cards can be
of thin cardboard with a hole punch. Use long shoelaces, or
with the end stiffened with tape or blunt tapestry needles and
yarn. Burlap can also be stitched without punching holes.
to an alley or set up some objects to knock over at home with a ball in
a safe place.
Let the child to play with cookie cutters with clay. Also
encourage the child pound on the clay with one hand to flatten
Lock Bags Store
small play objects in zip lock bags. The child must decide on
hand to hold the bag and which hand to use to put the items away with.
over templates is
a good activity. One hand traces and the other must stabilize
in a sticker book.
Taking stickers off of the sheet can be very challenging for some
children. Start with larger stickers, moving to smaller ones
the child develops his skill in removing stickers.
is using one hand
in a more skilled manner with the other hand assisting.
The child should not
hands equally to perform tasks better done by using one hand to
manipulate and the other hand to hold. Also undesired, is
the child alternating hands, so the precise hand control of a dominant
hand never develops. Avoid this by having the child
using the hand he or she starts with. Teach the
rest the hand if needed. Encourage the child to do the above
activities, which force a decision on the child’s part, as to
hand to use.
When working with
watch the quality of manipulation done with both hands. With
activity, watch to see which hand is more effective in manipulating the
objects. To do this, you may occasionally ask the child, to
switch hands to see the quality and speed of movement of each hand. The
dominant hand will be smoother in movement and is generally
faster. Occasionally, ask the child which hand
better." In time, both you and the child will have an idea of
which hand is the preferred hand.
Watch, which hand initiates common activities such as: brushing teeth,
brushing or combing hair, door opening, counting items and pointing to
objects. Often children will start fine motor activities with
their dominant hand and then switch to the non-dominant hand, as the
dominant hand fatigues. It is better to teach the child to
and rest his/her hand rather than switching.
Occasionally hand dominance is slow to develop due to other
factors. If after trying these activities, you
have concerns, please consult with a Pediatric Occupational