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Kids are less likely to fight with their siblings or otherwise misbehave at the dinner table if they are given small pieces of food they can pick up with a fork, according to a recent study carried out by researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Particularly for children between ages 6 and 10, a plate full of bite-size pieces that can be picked up with a fork and chewed could be parents' best way to ensure peace and quiet at the dinner table. According to the study, children in this age group are far more likely to fight with one another and disobey adults if they are given foods that they have to pick up and bite into, such as a whole apple or a chicken drumstick.
The findings were gathered during a two-day experiment in which researchers observed 12 children at a summer camp. At lunchtime, the children were divided into two tables. Chicken on the bone was served at one table and boneless chicken that had been cut into bite-size pieces was served at the other. The following day, the groups were switched.
On both days, children who had been given the chicken on the bone were considerably more rowdy.
"They were twice as likely to disobey adults and twice as aggressive toward other kids," noted Cornell University researcher Brian Wansink. While he acknowledges that cutting up children's food won't solve all of parents' behavior problems, he suggests that encouraging them to eat with a fork is a small step towards better behaved children.