About > PACE Method
PACE is an attitude and a way to communicate to others that they can be close to us without fear. When we can provide these safety signals to children, it is a way to co-regulate their affect, help them find emotional equilibrium, and gradually make sense of their lives. They are not tools to be applied in a linear or template fashion. We do not apply one cup of Playfulness followed by two teaspoons of Acceptance, one tablespoon of Curiosity, and two cups of Empathy. Acceptance of underlying experience must be a constant. Empathy can be used liberally, but may not always be tolerated. Sometimes curiosity and playfulness must wait until the child is more regulated.
Acceptance is of the child’s underlying emotional experience that leads to behavior. Acceptance makes us feel safe. It communicates that our support is unconditional and that the behavior is less important than the relationship. For children with developmental trauma, it can be difficult to accept their underlying deep sense of self-loathing, rage, or despair. As parents or teachers, we like to argue with, reassure, minimize, or distract children from painful feelings. We need to challenge ourselves to accept all parts and all expe- riences of our students so that they can begin to integrate those parts themselves and begin to heal. If we can accept the child underneath the behavior, then their self-acceptance will increase and it will help them be ready to address their behavior.
Helps us feel “felt.” It is not sympathy, pity, or reassurance. It can communicate that we understand and are “with” the student. When we feel others are with us in our experience we can do more and feel braver or stronger. We can express empathy for any emotional experience, not just sadness. We communicate our empathy verbally and nonverbally through our tone, intensity and rhythm of our voice, our soft gaze and open body posture, and, when safe, touch. Having empathy for a child’s experience does not mean that there will be an absence of consequence or limits. Consequences and limits can be delivered with empathy.