PAWS – a simple script for when things go wrong

Understandably, I’ve often heard from parents, carers & teachers that it can be hard to think of what to say, especially in the heat of the moment, that will put the ‘two handed’ relational approach to discipline (PACE-fulness on the one hand, alongside structure, boundaries & natural consequences on the other), into action.

Here’s a simple script that provides a structure for addressing challenging behaviour with a child, whilst still conveying that you care about them. There are a couple of examples given for each of the steps outlined.

The script shows a way to create a short, empathic narrative, that helps identify the thoughts & feelings that might have led to the behaviour. It also clearly outlines a natural consequence & a way to move forward positively. Natural consequences are not punishments, as they aim to help the child to learn & repair mistakes. They often involve ‘time in’ with a caring adult, which can help with relationship building & co-regulation of big feelings. Usually, it is the child’s struggle to manage their own arousal levels for themselves that has led to the challenging behaviour in the first place.

The script also contains a reminder that as the adult in the situation, it’s good to ‘paws’ before you do or say anything! Even taking time for one, deep breath can help you to regulate your own thoughts & feelings & make all the difference to your approach.

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