Uncovering the Controversial Side of Hand Over Hand: Is it Right for Everyone?
Updated: May 13
So what is 'hand over hand'?
'Hand over hand' is a technique used to physically guide someone's hand movements, typically used with children or individuals with developmental or physical challenges.
The idea behind the technique is to help the person develop certain motor skills and improve their ability to complete a task independently. The guiding hand moves the person's hand through the action, allowing them to feel the movements and hopefully internalise the skill. The goal is for the person to gradually take over the task on their own with less and less assistance from the guiding hand.
At Everyday OT we believe children have autonomy and choice in the things that they do. We believe that It's important to respect the autonomy and dignity of all individuals and where possible seek alternative methods of support that are more respectful and empowering.
It is also more intrinsically motivating and better for motor planning, motor coordination and engagement in tasks to adapt activities and adapt environments to support participation so the task becomes learned by the child themselves rather than us forcing them to do it.
For individuals who are unable to provide informed consent due to their age, developmental abilities, or medical conditions, the use of hand over hand technique may be necessary in some circumstances to ensure their safety or help them complete a task.
In these cases, it's important for caregivers to use the technique in a respectful and appropriate manner, ensuring that the person is not harmed or distressed, and that their dignity is preserved.
Alternative methods of support, like verbal cues or physical prompts, should be considered where possible to promote independence and respect the individual's autonomy.
When using hand over hand, it's important to regularly reassess and adjust the level of assistance provided to promote the person's ability to complete tasks on their own.
If you need additional support, consider booking a 1:1 virtual session with our Senior Paediatric Occupational Therapist to get some advice specific to your child.