6 April 2023


Early LearningJunior School
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When our cars need fuel, there is an indicator that shows us. Some people, like me, like to fill up when at half full, while others, like some people in my family, wait until the fuel gauge shows ¾ empty or less, only leaving ¼ to go on. For cars, this generally works, so long as you can gauge that you will make it to the nearest service station or charging station.

However, for people, and more specifically, children, their need to refuel can happen at different times, but, like a car, it’s not something you want to risk waiting until completely empty to replenish.

Some children are aware of their refuelling needs and others are less aware, but they usually give us very clear signals. Children certainly come for food to refuel as their physical energy levels change and their growth needs change, and they also come to us for emotional refuelling; this looks different for all children, and even for all children in the one family.

As children go out to explore the world from the security of their attachment to us, as parents or caregivers, some will look back and check in with us as they go, others keep us in their vision and others just go knowing that we have their back. Children need autonomy and competence: they get a sense of their identity by working out what they like and what they don’t like. They need us to believe in them, to trust them and to work with them to support them to know that we can sort it if they fail, this is how they learn. Challenge is crucial for children’s development.


Along the way, children need refuelling, and they may come to you for a hug or to help them sort out their feelings that might be overwhelming them, or they may need some protection or comforting, or they may just want you to delight in them and share in their exploration. As they come back to you for any of these needs, they are coming back for refuelling, to be assured that their autonomy is backed by a strong support. They need you to take charge and to be the bigger person, the wiser, stronger and kinder person as you refuel them. Then they can begin the journey of exploration again, going out into the world.

Sometimes we are busy and preoccupied and sometimes we miss the signal, but children are hard-wired to keep coming back for what they need. They need you, their parent and their caregiver, to protect them and support them as they grow, learn and face the challenges ahead of them.

There is a great term coined by child psychotherapist Donald Winnicott about being a ‘good enough’ parent. This does not mean mediocre at all, it means doing the best you can at the time and usually that’s just fine.

As you head to the Easter break, take time to refuel yourself and enjoy some slowed down time with your family.

Wishing you a peace filled and safe Easter and a happy break.

Wendy Seidler
Director of ELC Kew


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