Almost without realizing it, children use one hand preferentially, if they look through the lens of a camera they use one eye before the other or when they kick a ball they usually do so with the same foot. There is one side of the body that they use more than the other. It has to do with laterality.
Do you know what we mean when we talk about laterality or crossed laterality? Today we explain these concepts to you so that you can better understand them and understand why a child should not be forced to use one hand.
Simply explained, laterality is the preference that we all have to use a part of our body. One of the clearest examples is the use of one hand over the other, thus we find right- or left-handed people, but also ambidextrous. Laterality is not limited only to the use of the hands and limbs, the same is also true for the ear and the eye.
In the vast majority of people, the left cerebral hemisphere governs the right half of the body, while the right hemisphere is the one that guides the left half. The reasons for this brain specialization are still unknown
Laterality is a dynamic process that goes through different phases until approximately 6-7 years of age it finally establishes itself definitively. It is important that when the child reaches compulsory school age (6 years) has acquired its lateralization.
The proper development of laterality is essential for a correct learning of literacy, the elaboration of their body diagram, the organization of the right-left spatial references
- Phase of undifferentiation (0-2 years): It is a moment in which the child has not defined his laterality. The little one discovers that he has two hands and that they belong to him. It is the stage in which he likes to grab and throw the objects he manipulates and realizes that this allows him to interact with the environment.
- Alternation phase (2-4 years): Period in which the child becomes an explorer, everything fascinates him and therefore he needs to go from one place to another and touch everything that is within his reach. If we observe him carefully, we will see that he still uses both hands interchangeably to do any type of activity.
- Automation phase (4-6 years): From the age of 4, we will see how little by little the child is automating his gestures. It is the moment when the child begins to use one side more than the other. This way he will begin to look through a hole through the dominant eye, take the telephone receiver to the preferred ear, kick the ball with the dominant foot, take the pencil to write or a glass to drink with the hand that he will finally use.
As we can see, lateralization is interrelated with the set of motor functions and at the same time intervenes at all levels of the child's development.
There are different types of laterality:
- Right handed: where there is a predominance of the left hemisphere and motor performances of the right.
- Left handed: when the right cerebral hemisphere is the one who guides and exercises the motor action of the left side in a dominant way.
- False right: are those people who have been forced to perform tasks with the right when left-handedness was considered a disease. Fortunately, these types of beliefs have practically disappeared from our society.
- Ambidextrous: left-handed for some activities and right-handed for others.
- Cross laterality: hand and predominant eye do not belong to the same side.
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