Dan Hughes’s PACE (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity & Empathy) reminds us of the therapeutic attitude. The ‘two hands of parenting’ combine PACE-fulness with boundaries, structure & consequences – or ‘Connection with Correction’.
Here is ‘Moffles’ to help think about how to put the two hands of parenting into action, when a difficult parenting situation occurs:
M – Make it safe.
What is going on & do I need to do anything right now to keep everyone safe? Without physical safety it is very hard to create emotional safety.
O – Open up to your thoughts & feelings.
Take a quick pause & breathe. What needs to happen to ‘turn down the shark music’ (that sound in our heads of bad experiences & fears for the future) & to focus on the here & now? What do you need to stay open & engaged?
F – Focus on your child’s needs.
Do they need sensory regulation first to help them back into the thinking zone? Are they ready to reflect? Provide comfort. ‘Think about the how’ – tone of voice & non-verbal communication is as important as what you say.
F – Figure it out together.
‘Chase the why’. Listen & look for the meaning behind the behaviour, using curiosity & empathy. Say yes to all thoughts & feelings, even when you’re saying no to the behaviour. ‘Wonder aloud’ to communicate you’re on their side.
L– Look for ways to connect.
Emergency situations call for A&E – lots of acceptance & empathy.
E – Evaluate how to respond to behaviour.
Is PACE enough? What lesson do you want to teach? Are they ready to learn? Think natural consequences – timely, proportionate & related to the incident.
S – Soothe & repair.
What do you & your child both need to feel better? How can you communicate your relationship is strong, no matter what? Involve your child in thinking about what they can do to make it right with anybody else involved.