4 year old shows no "right/left hand" preference.. Normal? — The Bump
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4 year old shows no "right/left hand" preference.. Normal?

My boy just turned 4 and has very poor fine motor skills. He hates to write, draw or even color. He shows no "right/left hand" preference and he just switches on and off from each hand. Do you think that this is normal? How soon did you child show a hand preference?
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Re: 4 year old shows no "right/left hand" preference.. Normal?

  • rsd12rsd12 member
    My oldest (6) did most things with his left hand except for writing. It was not until kindergarten that they asked him to choose (with support and encouragement). When he got tired he would switch to his right hand. He now only uses his left. My middle son only uses his right (4) and even my 2 yr old shows right hand dominance.
    Boy 1 2/06 - Boy 2 12/07 - Boy 3 9/09
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    The majority of kids demonstrated left or right-handedness by around age 3, the vast majority by age 5.

    Sometimes a delay is related to a developmental issue- it can be a function of delayed or dysfunctional lateralization. DS was late to show a preference and was largely ambidextrous until he was about 8- a common enough trait for kids with an ASD or LD issue like his. Sometimes switching is a function of fatique. This is typical of kids who have hypotonia in their trunks or fingers. A few kids with lateralization issues can't cross the midline and will write on one half of the paper with their left and and the right half with their right. 

    Sometimes what is considered a "fine motor delay" is just a boy who doesn't care to sit down and draw. How does he do feeding himself, with buttons or Legos?

    He is good with legos and feeding, not so much buttons..I wil look into some of these things you mentioned.

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  • I was like this when I was a kid, even into elementary school. My mom said I would write on the left hand side of the page with my left hand then switch over to my right hand to write on the right side of the page.  She said she finally made me choose one hand and I guess I chose my right.  So I now write with my right hand, but for some reason, eat with my left hand!
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  • My almost 4yr old (he'll be 4 in 3wk) doesn't really show a preference yet either. To be honest, I am really not all that concerned about it. He'll choose eventually or we'll make him choose at some point. I don't think it is a big deal for a 4yr old to not show a strong hand preference.
  • It's technically not "chosen" until age 5, but it seems like it's typically sooner than that.  If he doesn't like to write or draw, I take that to mean that he hasn't had enough experience yet with it to determine which hand feels more comfortable.  DS was really against much coloring or writing until somewhat recently, so just give it time and try not to put too much pressure on him.  The last thing you want to do is to give him a reason to hate it.  There are other things you can do to strengthen his fine motor skills, like cutting.  Kids are thrilled to be allowed to use a pair of scissors (with close supervision, of course), so you can give him old catalogs to cut apart.  Maybe he'd even be happy with a glue stick to glue the cuttings onto paper.
    Baby Boy #1 born on 3/21/08 
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  • Our Bug (4 YR OLD, 5 in Sept) did not want anything to do with writing, we had books with tracing letters, activities for her to do. Anything we could think of to get her to write, she wanted nothing to do it. She also did not have a hand preference. Until about a week ago when she picked up a pen and started writing. She wrote her first and last name almost perfectly. Like she had been doing it for years. I guess once it clicks, it just clicks, don't force it...just give them all the options they can when they are ready...and when they start to, just make sure to encourage it as much as possible. 
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