Updated: Sep 21, 2021
WRITTEN BY SALLY HILLS-DAVIS, CHILDRENS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST AND KIRSTY BROCKLEHURST, CHILDRENS PHYSIOTHERAPIST. FOUNDERS OF THE PRACTICAL CHILD.
Using two hands together might seem to you as something that just happens automatically with children but this is an important area of development that often needs help to make it automatic. Using two hands together starts when the child brings their hands in to midline (An imaginary line that runs vertically down the centre of the body).
The child will eventually use one hand as the dominant hand and one hand as the helping hand.
Using two hands together is an important skill to help with early learnt tasks, such as, putting on shoes. You can help your child to develop these skills by giving activities that encourage this. One of the first skills that you can work on with your child is, the clapping of hands. This can be done by singing songs that incorporate clapping.
A good place to work on hand skills is in the highchair, where your child is seated with their hips and trunk within a stable base, hopefully, with their feet on a footplate (please see the blog: equipment for weaning). You will notice that at first your child will only be able to hold one toy in one hand and when they put something in the other hand the first hand will drop the item. As your child develops, they will be able to hold an item in each hand, banging toys such as bricks together.
It takes time for these skills to evolve but clapping hands can be a fun way for children to know where their hands are in relation to their body and for them to interact with them. Water play, popping bubbles, catching a balloon with two hands and musical bells all help these skills to develop.
As your child grows and develops further, giving toys that require two hands working together, will help to consolidate what they have learnt already. Threading large beads onto a thread, building bricks, rolling out playdoh, tweezers and balls, holding a pot of bubbles and blowing them and pegging pegs on to a board, amongst many others games that you may try, all require the use of two hands.
Outside playing such as catching and throwing a ball, again requires the use of two hands and developing this from an early age, helps to improve other skills such as, eye hand co-ordination, balance and co-ordination of the body.
The more your child masters using two hands together the more complex tasks such as, cutting a piece of paper, which requires one hand to cut and one hand to hold the paper and drawing which requires one hand to write and one hand to steady the paper, the easier it will be for them to achieve.
Once you realise the complexity of the hands and the use of using two hands together, you will quickly become quite amazed at how, with your help, your child seems to improve their skills day by day!