On Forced Left-handedness, Smarter Children, Discpline Outside the Home, Loud Kids, and Giving to the Poor

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Since left-handed or ambidextrous people tend to be smarter, do you think it would be a good thing for me to force my children to write left-handed? They haven’t been born yet, and I intend to home school them. We can make left-handed writing seem completely natural to them.


First, while the idea that left-handers tend to be more intelligent than right-handers has gained in popularity in recent years, most of the people backing that concept are – big surprise – left-handed. Legitimate, peer-reviewed research on this topic is difficult to find, and even the common belief that lefties tend to be more creative cannot be proven empirically.

Second, even if left-handed or ambidextrous people were on average smarter, your plan makes no sense. For years, adults forced left-handed children to write with their right hands. Did that make them less intelligent? Of course not.

While we know handedness can be passed down genetically, we do not yet understand how or why, and left-handedness does not behave like a typical recessive trait, such as blue eyes. You can certainly force a right-handed person to use his left hand to write or eat, and over time that person should become adept with his left hand. But while such a person may become functionally left-handed, any genetic characteristics common to natural lefties (if in fact there are any) would not be present.


What do you do when your kids act out in public? In some places, courts can take action against parents if children make noise. On the other hand, what can parents do? We are not allowed to hit the kids. If we yell, it only makes more noise. What can we parents do?


Making kids behave in public begins with what you do at home. Behaviors unacceptable at home do not suddenly become OK just because you’ve driven to a restaurant. To improve the odds of your children behaving outside the home, make the standard of conduct you expect plain from the start.

The biggest challenge parents face with children who misbehave away from home is the inability to punish them right away. However, you can deal with this limitation by establishing the appropriate punishment immediately, then letting the child know when you will dish it out. At the appointed time, administer the punishment. And to make it stick, up it a bit. In other words, if mouthing off to a parent at home earns one day without TV or Internet access, make an infraction in public cost the kid two days of media.

Regarding the yelling, you are correct in your concerns about getting into a shouting match with your kids in public. At times, however, you must raise your voice even if it inconveniences or irritates others. When you do this, get right to the point and don’t waste words.


We went to Wal-Mart today, and we saw a homeless man. My daughter was drawn to him, so I grabbed her away because I didn’t want anything to happen. She had her 12th birthday party yesterday, and she came to the store with about $200. She spent some of the money to buy the man a jacket, water, and some food. Why is my daughter doing this? Does she want attention?


It is possible your daughter made those purchases to gain attention for herself. It is also possible that she felt sorry for the homeless man and decided to spend some of her money to make his life better.

Unless you have reason to believe that your daughter is manipulative, insensitive, and hungry for publicity, assume the second motivation is correct. Most kids won’t spend that much of their birthday money on a total stranger simply to gain the attention of a mother who doesn’t think much of the expenditure.

I’ll close with a suggestion: Don’t criticize your daughter for giving food, water, and a jacket to a homeless man. It was a kind thing to do, and if your negative reaction drives her to avoid such compassion again, the world will be the less for it.

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