• Dr. V.S. Gayathri

'b'​ and 'd'​ confusion in kids!

We have often seen kids getting confused between mirror alphabets ‘b’ and ‘d’, while writing and reading. Many people consider this as a sign of dyslexia, but it not always true. Like kids with such confusion might not turn out to be dyslexic as well. This is something quite common in preschoolers. The reversal with ‘b’ and ‘d’ is common till six and a half to 7 years. Both parents and teachers can use some methods to correct this at the right time to avoid any hindrance in the learning process later.

Why some kids have ‘b’ and ‘d’ confusion?

The difficulty can be an inherent problem of the way our brains interpret visual signals. Our brains basically view similar shapes as representing the same underlying item. For kids, their brains want to believe that the letters ‘b’ and ‘d’ might be just two shapes that represent the same object. In their minds, the letter ‘d’ is like the letter ‘b’ from a different angle and they find it difficult to process the idea that when they look at letter shapes, the angle of view is important.

Dyslexia can be one of the reasons for the ‘b’ and ‘d’ reversal as well, but that is not the only cause. 8 out of 10 dyslexics face difficulty with directional knowledge, which can cause left-right and up-down flipping seen in the case of b/d, p/q, and 6/9 reversals. If dyslexia is the reason for the letter reversals, those kids might also struggle with letter and number sequencing – which can lead to poor and inconsistent spelling, and in simple maths.

Here are some of the ways in which we can help kids who face this problem.

1. Explain ‘b’ and ‘d’ with this fun picture – The best way to explain the shape of ‘b’ and ‘d’ is to show them pictures. You can add like ‘b’ has a belly, ‘d’ has a diaper. Repeat then whenever you teach or if they have made a mistake. Gradually, they will start remembering the fact and write the correct letter in spellings. You can use fun pictures for this.

2. Teach kid’s ‘b’ hand- This is a simple activity that you can try at home. We will use an elastic band for this activity. Make your child sit with you and put the band on their left hand. Don’t mention which is the right or the left hand to the kid. Then, ask them to make the ‘b’ shape with their left hand, using the fingers. Then, you can show them any flashcard or any word that starts with b. This way, the child starts visualizing the ‘b’ shape and they will recognize it whenever they see it. You can repeat this activity with the band for around 2 to 3 weeks. Then, gradually, they will start understanding the shape of ‘b’ with or without the band. They will know that it is their ‘b’ hand.

3. Worksheets for ‘b’ and ‘d’- You can take prints of different worksheets and ask them to circle only the ‘b’ letters in the worksheet. It can also be some colouring activity where they have to identify a letter and colour. Make sure that whenever you are doing this, concentrate on one letter at a time. Do no mix ‘b’ and ‘d’ at the same time.

You can watch this wonderful video to understand more- https://youtu.be/apQ2-dwu4AE

**Credits: Reference to Reading expert, Linda Farrell who displays an effective method to deal with the 'b' and 'd' confusion with Aiko, a second-grader.

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