P puts the Playfulness in PACE! It’s the part of the therapeutic parenting attitude developed by Dan Hughes, that characterises the way a parent or carer interacts with a baby or small child. That original experience of parental love, where each is delighting in the other, getting to know each other & feeling safe & relaxed.
Playfulness is about being light, confident and engaged – looking for strengths and ways to be close & affectionate. Not a distraction technique, but a way to create positive interactions & feelings of acceptance & connectedness. A light-hearted & relaxed attitude brings opportunities to show affection when more direct expressions may be resisted by a traumatised child.
Through playfulness, our child can experience joyful moments with us in a non-threatening way. They are also likely to respond with less defensiveness when we can convey a touch of playfulness in our discipline, where appropriate, to keep the behaviour in perspective. Playfulness can be disarming & reduce the risk of control battles – it is not likely to be the response they were expecting! It conveys that we are not intimidated or angered by resistance but actively want to understand it.
Children learn best through play, but abuse & neglect get in the way of carefree play. Let’s fill in the play gaps for our children – prioritising playful relationships helps us to support social & emotional learning.