Children who have experienced trauma, such as abuse, neglect, loss or separation, often struggle to form healthy and secure attachments with their caregivers. They may have difficulties trusting, expressing and regulating their emotions, communicating their needs and feelings, and coping with stress and challenges. They may also exhibit behaviours that are challenging, disruptive or aggressive, which can strain the relationship with their caregivers and affect their development and well-being.
As a caregiver, whether you are a parent, a foster carer, an adoptive parent, a teacher, a social worker or a therapist, you may find it hard to understand and respond to the needs and behaviours of traumatized children. You may feel frustrated, overwhelmed or helpless at times. You may also wonder how you can build a safe, trusting and meaningful relationship with them.
This is where PACE can help you. PACE is an approach that was developed by Dr Dan Hughes, a clinical psychologist specialising in childhood trauma, more than 20 years ago as a central part of attachment-focused family therapy. It was created with the aim of supporting adults to build safe, trusting and meaningful relationships with children and young people who have experienced trauma. The approach focuses on building trusting relationships, emotional connections, containment of emotions and a sense of security.
PACE is a way of thinking, feeling, communicating and behaving that aims to make the child feel safe. Its four principles of communication – Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy – facilitate the building of healthy, secure attachments between caregiver and child.
PACE parenting is especially effective for supporting children that lack secure emotional bases. It is ideal for anyone working or living with children, especially those children in the care system.
In this blog, we will explore what PACE is, how it works and how National Gender Training can help you learn and apply it in your relationship with traumatized children.
What is PACE?
PACE stands for Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy. These are the four principles of communication that form the basis of the PACE approach. They are designed to help caregivers create a safe and nurturing environment for traumatized children, where they can feel seen, heard and understood.
Let’s look at each principle in more detail:
- Playfulness: This is the ability to be light-hearted, humorous and creative in your interactions with the child. It helps to create a positive and enjoyable atmosphere, where the child can relax and have fun. It also helps to reduce tension, anxiety and fear, and to increase trust, confidence and cooperation.
- Acceptance: This is the ability to accept the child as they are, without judgment or criticism. It helps to create a respectful and supportive atmosphere, where the child can feel valued and appreciated. It also helps to reduce shame, guilt and anger, and to increase self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-compassion.
- Curiosity: This is the ability to be curious about the child’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours, without assumptions or interpretations. It helps to create an open and honest atmosphere, where the child can feel listened to and understood. It also helps to explore the reasons behind the child’s actions and reactions, and to foster empathy and compassion.
- Empathy: This is the ability to feel and share the child’s emotions, without taking them on or dismissing them. It helps to create a warm and caring atmosphere, where the child can feel safe and comforted. It also helps to validate the child’s feelings, acknowledge their pain and offer support.
By using these four principles of communication, caregivers can establish a strong and secure attachment with traumatized children, which is essential for their healing and recovery.
How Does PACE Work?
PACE works by creating a safe space for traumatized children to express themselves freely, openly and authentically. It also works by helping caregivers understand and respond to the needs and behaviours of traumatized children in a sensitive and appropriate way.
PACE works by following these steps:
- Establishing safety: The first step is to make sure that the child feels physically and emotionally safe in their environment. This means providing them with basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing and health care. It also means protecting them from any potential harm or threat from others or themselves.
- Building trust: The second step is to build trust between the caregiver and the child. This means being consistent, reliable, honest and respectful in your interactions with the child. It also means being attentive, responsive and supportive of their needs and feelings.
- Developing connection: The third step is to develop a connection between the caregiver and the child. This means being playful, accepting, curious and empathic in your communication with the child. It also means being present, engaged and interested in their lives.
- Enhancing communication: The fourth step is to enhance communication between the caregiver and the child. This means using verbal and non-verbal cues to convey your messages clearly and effectively. It also means using active listening skills to understand what the child is saying or implying.
- Resolving conflicts: The fifth step is to resolve conflicts between the caregiver and the child. This means using respectful and constructive methods to address any disagreements or misunderstandings that may arise. It also means acknowledging and validating each other’s feelings and perspectives, and finding solutions that are fair and acceptable for both parties.
By following these steps, caregivers can create a safe, trusting and meaningful relationship with traumatized children, which can help them heal from their trauma and thrive in their lives.
How National Gender Training Can Help You Learn PACE
National Gender Training is a leading provider of courses and workshops on transgender awareness, LGBTQIA+ awareness and diversity management for professionals and organisations in the UK. Their aim is to help you develop your allyship and promote LGBT+ positivity in society.
They offer a course on PACE that can help you learn and apply this approach in your relationship with traumatized children. Their course is designed and delivered by experienced trainers who are trans and LGBT+ themselves or allies. Their course is interactive, engaging and tailored to your specific needs and goals.
By taking their course on PACE, you will learn:
- The theory and practice of PACE
- The benefits of PACE for traumatized children
- The challenges of PACE for caregivers
- The skills and techniques of PACE
- The scenarios and examples of PACE
If you are interested in learning more about National Gender Training or booking their course on PACE, you can visit their website at www.nationalgendertraining.co.uk or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading this blog. We hope you found it informative and helpful. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact us directly.