Developing Dominance

Dominance is a developmental milestone that emerges around age three, to streamline communication between the brain and body.

Instead of sending commands to both hemispheres of the brain, as is the case when we are a baby or toddler, our body now has a preference for one hemisphere over the other. A favourite or ‘dominant’ hand, ear, eye and foot also becomes noticeable.

“Streamlining communication in this way leads to smoother and more precise motor control, faster reaction times, and more effective use of energy”. Gill Connell.

We write with our dominant hand.

We listen with our dominant ear.

We look with our dominant eye.

We lead with our dominant foot.

And it’s our dominant hemisphere that’s in the driver’s seat.

Ideally, we want our dominant side to be consistent across one half of the body. A preferred right hand, ear, eye and foot means that our left hemisphere is dominant. Or a preferred left hand, ear, eye and foot means that our right hemisphere is dominant.

Think of it as a game of opposites. If your right side leads, your left brain is in charge. If your left side leads, your right brain is in charge.

It is indeed possible to have mixed dominance, such as being right handed and left footed, however, a faster pathway for processing and action is achieved when the dominance is consistent across one side of the body.

An essential point to make here is that dominance is a genetic trait. We’re born as being either right or left dominant. So what’s important here is not whether we’re right handed or left handed but that it’s a match with the way our brain is wired.

The best way to ensure that this happens is to avoid pushing a child of any age, to adopt a preferred hand. Children need to feel what is natural for them. It cannot be forced. Through movement, experience and laying their neural foundations, it will happen when the time is right.

“It doesn’t matter whether a child is right or left handed, as long as he’s allowed to follow the side nature has selected for him”. Gill Connell

Tips for developing handedness

  • Until we can see a clear pattern of what hand a child prefers to use, pass objects to them at the centre of their body.

  • Encourage youngsters to experiment with both hands for tasks such as feeding, playing and drawing.

  • Seat children next to each other instead of opposite. Those who begin preschool or school without a dominant hand are likely to mirror those who are sitting across from them. This means that copying a right-handed child may lead to using their left.

Are you curious now as to what your dominant side is? Or that of the children in your life?

Here are some ideas that allow you to observe an individual’s dominance. Please be mindful however, that up until age seven, you may notice things changing on a regular basis.

 

Checking for dominance

Are you curious now as to what your dominant side is? Or that of the children in your life?

Here are some ideas that allow you to observe an individual’s dominance. Please be mindful however, that up until age seven, you may notice things changing on a regular basis.

 

Hand dominance

  • Throw and catch a ball or beanbag. What hand is used the most?

  • “Pretend that there’s a fly on your nose. Swish it away with your hand”. Which hand was used?

  • Pass an object to the child at the centre of their body (such as a fork or pencil). What hand do they consistently grasp it with?

 

Foot dominance

  • Kick a soccer ball around playfully. What foot is seen kicking the most?

  • “Pretend that you’re really angry and stamp your foot”. Which foot was used?

 

Eye dominance

  • Ask the child to look through a kaleidoscope (or simply an empty paper towel roll). What eye do they hold it up to?

  • Give the child a piece of cardboard with a hole in it, asking them to look at you through the hole. What eye do they use?

 

Ear dominance

  • Allow your child to answer the telephone when it rings (or perhaps ring it yourself from your mobile phone). What ear do they hold the phone up to initially?

 

Hemispheric dominance

  • Ask a tricky question that requires brainpower (such as repeating a sequence of numbers). Observe what side the eyes flick up to. Typically we look up to our dominant hemisphere to retrieve the answer. For me, I look up to my left, which is in line with my right-handedness.

 

Did you find this article helpful?  Please share it with someone who’ll feel the same.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *