Sometimes the cold hard truth is that talking with our children can be an exercise in forbearance, what with the mundane topics and endless repetitions.

Durban - It’s a popular phrase among most two and three-year-olds and therefore might sound familiar. These are words usually followed by an exasperated look from mom, as she knows this is going to take twice as long.

Patience, count to 10 and let your child try.

She isn’t wasting your time; in fact, she is laying the foundation for future competence in whatever task she is attempting. At this age it’s usually getting dressed herself or cutting her own meat – a skill you would want her to be able to master in the near future unless you plan on doing it for her for the foreseeable future.

So how do we cope with this “me do it” attitude. Plan, work the extra time into the schedule and most of all be patient – this could take a while to perfect.

If you are less pressured your child will be as well and will be more than likely to manage the task at hand. Resist taking over, stand back and let him be.

You may give some pointers. For example, if he is trying to get his shoes on you may loosen the laces to help. A tip is to use stickers that feature animals, cut in half. Stick the head in the left shoe and the tail in the right – this will help him get the shoes on the right feet.

Kids are often insistent on choosing their own clothes. For some moms this is quite a difficult thing as they feel the way the toddler dresses is a reflection on them.

Many a time I was tempted to place a sticker on her shirt saying “I dress myself.” Envision my three-year-old daughter insisting on wearing a Barbie costume over her track suit, to school, in winter. I am not sure what ended up happening at school but she didn’t come home looking like that. Needless to say I almost wanted to hide when I dropped her off. In reality I was just not up to the struggle of convincing her it was not a good idea.

Choose your battles at this stage in their lives.

The toddler who wants to do things by herself will soon master the skills required, making your life so much easier and boosting her self-esteem.

Tips on helping them master the skills:

* Give your child choices. Do you want to wear this dress or these pants? Two or three at the most. When shopping do the same. Which one of these two would you like me to buy for you?

* Compliment her choice. Don’t criticise the mis- matched outfit, just make a suggestion: “The red T-shirt will look nice with the denim shorts.”

* Teach them to look for the label to find the back of shirts and pants. Mark items with a B if there is no label or sew a red ribbon in. Once potty trained, panties or underpants with a picture on makes it easier.

* Buttons are a problem for most toddlers as they don’t yet have the fine motor skill. Get them to line up the buttons at the bottom and they will eventually master the skill.

* The shoe-matching stickers are great for teaching which shoe goes on which foot. Alternatively place the shoes in the right order or explain that the buckle/Velcro normally goes on the outside of the foot.

Have fun, and remember: this too will pass. - The Mercury

* Liz Victor is the Director of TOPTOTS Early Learning SA. You can locate a branch near you on