London, Nov 10 : A new study has found that a growing number of children, who are just starting school, are unsure whether they are left or right handed.
The physical impediment could affect the children's academic and physical development, said the researchers behind the study.
According to psychologists, around 30 percent of the five-year-olds, which is up from 10 percent a decade ago, do not even know in which hand they should hold a pencil.
The finding added to the fears that children are developing more slowly than in the past, a fact which would leave them unable to cope with simple tasks like peeling potatoes as they grow older.
The researchers say that over-cautious parents are also responsible for the slow development of the child, as they do not allow infants to lie or crawl on their front, for fear of leaving them susceptible to cot death.
They say that when children are not allowed to develop their motor skills naturally, their dexterity and left-right co-ordination are hampered.
Madeleine Portwood, the senior educational psychologist at Durham county council who presented her research at a schools conference last week, urged parents to allow young children to spend supervised time on their fronts.
"More and more children are not going through the crawling stage. They shuffle along on their bottoms and find a chair, a table or curtains and use their arms to pull up to a standing position," the Telegraph quoted her as saying.
"The most important thing parents can do is ensure that when they are being observed during the day they, they are given a chance to be on their front.
"It's important if you start formal education at four-and-a-half and you expect to hold an implement to write, that you know which hand to hold it in," she added.
Portwood had discovered in a previous research that 57 per cent of three-year-olds were unable to carry out tasks expected of their age.
The researchers also attribute the problem to too much of television watching among young children, which does not leave them with enough time to interact with objects using their hands.