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What are Kids' Chopsticks?

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  • Written By: Dana Hinders
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2016
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Kids' chopsticks are smaller versions of the chopsticks that adults use. They are typically a few inches shorter than adult chopsticks to make them easier for small hands to hold. There are also training chopsticks available that have a ring to hold the thumb in place or special ridges to encourage correct finger placement. Depending upon were you purchase your kids' chopsticks, you may be able to find chopsticks with fun patterns or whimsical designs for added appeal.

Although chopsticks are most commonly associated with Chinese or Japanese cuisine, eating any ordinary meal with chopsticks can be a fun experience for a child. However, learning how to use kids' chopsticks is a skill that requires a great deal of practice. As a general rule, children under the age of five do not have the coordination, patience, or manual dexterity required to use kids' chopsticks.

To begin teaching your son or daughter to use chopsticks, place both chopsticks in your child's hand in the position used to hold a single pencil. Slip the middle finger between the two sticks and wedge the bottom chopstick into the crevice between the thumb and index finger. The thumb and index finger are then used to move the top chopstick up and down in order to grab small bits of food. In China, parents often tell their children to visualize the chopsticks as a bird's beak opening and closing.

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As your child is learning to use chopsticks, it is helpful to stick to meals that contain lots of meat and larger vegetables. Noodles and rice are the most difficult foods to pick up with chopsticks. Keeping a fork available for this part of the meal may help prevent unnecessary frustration. Additionally, remember that bowls are usually easier to eat from than plates.

If your child is still struggling to master chopsticks after several meals, you may want to consider purchasing a small rubber "hinge" that slips onto the chopsticks to make them easier to manage. These devices are available from most specialty kitchen stores.

Regardless of your age, table manners are very important when eating with chopsticks. When teaching your child to use kids' chopsticks, remind him or her to cut up pieces of food that are too large to fit into the mouth with just one bite. If there is a chopstick rest provided, place the chopsticks back on the rest when finished with the meal. When your food is served in a bowl with a lid, it's also polite to replace the lid after eating.

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Mor
Post 3

@pastanaga - I'm sure your friends were well aware that you weren't used to the way they ate. Keeping an open mind when learning different customs works wonders.

With that said, there is actually a good health reason for chopsticks use. One of my friends was told he should switch to using chopsticks for every meal because he had a digestive problem and tended to eat way too fast with a fork. With chopsticks, he had to slow right down and consider the meal more fully. I think this would actually be a good thing for a lot of children to have to do.

pastanaga
Post 2

@browncoat - It can be a good idea to get your child used to using chopsticks as well, if they have any friends who use them at home. I had a friend from India when I was a kid, who asked me over and I was completely thrown by the fact that her family ate with their hands and never used utensils like I was used to.

It was completely neat and the meal was designed around this way of eating, but I took a while to learn how to adjust. I imagine it would be even more difficult for a kid who had to learn how to use chopsticks in a hurry, in order to be polite.

browncoat
Post 1

If your child is mastering writing, it can help to get them working on chopstick coordination as well, since that will help to exercise their hands and improve dexterity. I wouldn't bother with children's training chopsticks, myself, since it's actually not that difficult to use them. People seem to just get intimidated, or they try to use them with the wrong kind of food.

Sticky rice is actually pretty easy to pick up with chopsticks. It's only when you've got rice that's too dry or too wet that they separate into individual grains that are difficult for anyone to pick up easily.

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