I did miss this face when I was away in New York.

Have you ever wondered how adaptable your toddler is to change?

It’s 4 weeks since I’ve come back from my trip to New York and everything here at home has fallen back into place, just as it was before.

I’m back into the routine of nagging my kids to do their homework, music practice, lunch boxes to the sink. Really it’s a joy to be home 😉

My older three are all school aged so they knew what was going on and didn’t expect them to have too much trouble with the fact I was going to be gone for 2 weeks.

But my youngest is 2 ½ years old. Even though I have been away from my other children for a couple of days at a time at various stages of their life; 2 weeks is something different.

It was a comfort to know that my youngest, L, didn’t fuss too much while I was gone. He came into my bedroom a couple of times in the middle of the night looking for me but when he found I wasn’t there, he just about faced and went back to his own bed; or his older sister’s bed.

He was happy to video skype call with me in the early part of my holiday but towards the end he found the ipad to be more exciting.

It was okay; I wasn’t distraught. As long as he wasn’t upset, then that’s all that mattered.

On the morning I arrived home L was happy to see me but didn’t jump on me or anything like that.

When it was time for his afternoon sleep he sought Mr M to put him to bed. And when he woke up he came out looking for someone; he found me. He wasn’t looking for me. He was looking for Mr M. When he found him he ran straight up to him jumped into his arms.

Since then things with L have gone back to the way they were. He has resumed climbing into my bed and looks for me when he wakes from his midday nap.

It’s fascinating how instinctive adaptability is. It must be. L would have no way on understanding where I went, why I was gone and if I was ever coming back. He’s just not old enough yet. But he knew what he needed and he made sure that he got it. Whether it was from Mr M or one of his siblings.

And that’s what we do isn’t it? We adapt to our situation. Whether it is an expected life-changing event or something out of the blue; we do what we need to do to get on with the job of living.

I asked a close friend, who is a trained psychologist, whether adaptability is instinct or learned behaviour.

She said that adaptability is both instinct and a learned behaviour but what’s the split?

Current thinking, and I would have to agree based on personality testing that I have done over the years, personality, and therefore adaptability, is that adaptability is predominantly innate… we are born with it and it is difficult to change. We can shape adaptability to a certain extent (ie help kids develop skills/ techniques to become more adaptable in response to situations in which they are presented, and therefore also more resilient), however these skills will never surpass the innate/ instinctive reactions that we have in responding to situations (particularly in situations where an instantaneous reaction is required).

For toddlers, they are more adaptable than adults given that their personality is open to shaping from their main areas of support (parents first, siblings next, and so on), however I don’t think that you would ever get an extremely inflexible/ rigid kid to become easygoing and readily adaptable to situations…

Raising Children Network has some information on why routines help toddlers adapt with change.

Are any of your children more adaptable, resilient than the other?


  • At 2012.09.11 11:59, Becc said:

    Thank you for posting this. My husband & I are off to Vegas next year for 2 weeks and the anxiety of being apart from our son for 2 weeks is setting in. I believe he will be resilient enough to shake it off pretty quickly though.
    Great heads up about the iPad being more exciting than the Skype call. I won’t be too offended now 🙂

    • At 2012.09.11 12:59, Maria said:

      Hi Becc,

      Enjoy your trip next year. Honestly, with my 2 year old it’s like I never left now.

      And no don’t be offended if your 2 year old prefers the ipad. I know it appeased my guilt but I didn’t care. As long as he was happy, I didn’t need him to talk to me. I knew I would be back soon enough 😉

      Thanks for the visit and the comment.

      Love & stuff
      Mrs M

    • At 2012.09.15 21:06, Rachel @ The Kids Are All Right said:

      I also spent a couple of weeks away from my two little ones (2 and 4 at the time) earlier this year. It was hard because hubby was with me. I would have felt better if they were at least with him. But adapt they did, and like you say, it was as if we’d never left after a day of us back home. I do agree children are generally adaptable – up to a point. My eldest, now 14, went through a lot of changes in her life between the ages of 6 and 10, and in the end it really got to her and caused a lot of issues. I think they can only take so much.

      (Required, will not be published)