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Teach Your Child to Use Chopsticks

To celebrate the Chinese New Year (February 7 ushers in the Year of the Rat), teach your child to use chopsticks. By age 5, many kids can manage the finger movements needed. They can even fine-tune their hand control, since they'll use muscles they usually don't on a daily basis.

To get your child started, courtesy of Andy Kao, executive chef for Panda Express, the national Chinese restaurant chain:

* Place both chopsticks in your child's hand as if she were holding a single pencil. Wedge the bottom chopstick into the crevice between her thumb and index finger so it can't budge.

* Slip her middle finger between the two sticks, making sure the tips line up. Her middle and ring fingers should firmly support the bottom stick.

* Tell her to use her thumb and index finger to move the top chopstick up and down.

* Once she's gotten the hang of the motion, have her try picking up a chunk of chicken or a piece of broccoli. Then move on to smaller foods like noodles and rice.

* Keep a fork on hand in case she gets frustrated.

Gung hay fat choy!

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