Friday, 12 July 2013


How to Teach Your Child to Use Chopsticks?

Age: From 4 years old

Activity Duration: 5-15 minutes

Objective(s): To train the child’s fine motor skills.


1. 2 containers
2. Approx. 10 pom poms
3. 1 pair of kid's length chopsticks (approx. 15 cm in length) (You can make your own by chopping off the length of a pair of wooden chopsticks, which I did here)
4. 1 Tray


1. Demonstrate it to your child by transferring the pom poms slowly one at a time using chopsticks.
2. Encourage and let your child try it.

Here is showing the technique of how to hold chopsticks I found from the internet:

Here is an excellent post by a non-Chinese on how to hold chopsticks:

Additional Information:

Among all my Chinese friends, only YL's daughter, A, who is currently 4 years old, manages to hold the chopsticks well. In fact she now asks for chopsticks using meal times and chopsticks has become her preference of choice.

It boiled down to parental expectation, and in the case of A, YL has been very determined that her daughter learns to use the chopsticks.

Many Chinese parents in Copenhagen as well as Singapore do not have the will to allocate time to teach their children to use chopsticks. It is too tiring and too much work. We fall back on easy solution - just use the spoon, and hoping that the child will learn to use the chopsticks on their own when they are older. It does not happen this way. If a child does not take time to learn it, he will not master it all of a sudden one day.

Chopsticks are part of our heritage, and it is a pity that many modern Chinese parents no longer have the determination to teach it. This part of heritage is lost forever. Ironically, more and more Danes are learning how to use chopsticks. While dining at Japanese, Chinese or Thai restaurants, I encourage J by showing him that even the Danes are using chopsticks. It inspired him to know that it is a good skill to learn, that even Danes know how to use it, so why not him - who is both 100% Chinese and 100% Danish :-)

At the age of 4 years old, J still could not hold the chopsticks as I had not been very firm with him to learn how to use chopsticks. As such, the lack of chopsticks skills frustrated him and he didn't like to use chopsticks. He will enjoy using chopsticks more, if he is skillful at it. It can get messy to practise using chopsticks at the dining table. Also he doesn't have so much patience to practise chopsticks during meal times, as he is hungry and just wants to send the mouthful of food into the mouth as fast as possible.

But he is already 4 years old now, and it is a good time now to devote learning this skill until it is mastered, no matter how much time it will take. So I am returning back to this activity to provide J more practise of using the chopsticks. It is not one of his favourite activities, but at least he is accepting to practise using the chopsticks, while he isn't hungry. That is helping him slowly to be better at it.

My plan of action is that he should spend 5 minutes a day on this activity for the whole of this month, until using the chopsticks comes as a second nature to him, without him using any conscious brain energy. Practise makes perfect :-).

Thanks to the tip of a mommy blogger MieVee, I made a pair of kid's length chopsticks for J.

Updates on 1 August 2013 after almost a week of practice:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Elaine, my boy (same age as yours) has managed to use the chopsticks correctly by using a really short pair imported from Japan. He wasn't that successful with the regular ones but once he used the short pair, succeeded! This was such a "Montessori moment" -- child-sized equipment.

    If you can't get such short ones, try cutting a wooden pair? I think it's 1/2 - 2/3 of the regular length, try observing the proportion of the regular ones to an adult's hand. All the best! :)


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