PACE at Inclusion School

Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, Empathy

PACE is a trauma-informed approach to supporting children and young people which we use here at Inclusion School.

PACE is a way of thinking, feeling, communicating and behaving that aims to make children and young people feel safe. It is particularly effective in meeting the needs of children and young people who have experienced trauma. Developed by clinical psychologist, Dan Hughes, the approach focuses on building trusting relationships, emotional connections, containment and a sense of security.

Playfulness -This is about creating a fun, light and playful atmosphere when communicating with our learners. It means using a light tone of voice, like you might do when story-telling, rather than an irritated or lecturing tone. It is about having fun and expressing a sense of joy. It also supports a connection through shared joy and interest in experience such as playing a game together.
Relating with a playful attitude keeps the interaction light and upbeat. It can help diffuse a difficult or tense situation. Our learners are less likely to respond with anger and defensiveness when the adult has a touch of playfulness in their communication. Having a playful stance isn’t about being funny all the time or making jokes when a learner is sad, it’s about helping children be more open to and experience positive connection.

Acceptance – this is about accepting the learner and what they are feeling right now without judgement. Although you may not agree with their perception of it, you accept their feelings about it and not invalidate their feelings. This doesn’t mean you accept damaging behaviour which could cause harm or risk to the learner or others, rather working on ways to limit this behaviour which accepting the reasoning behind it. 

Curiosity – This is about showing a genuine interest and curiosity in the learner you are working with – what are their interests? What motivates and drives them? It is also a curiosity about and the way you can approach this together. It also suggests a curiosity about the underlying factors which have caused the behaviour. 

EmpathyEmpathy is about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and allowing yourself to feel what they must be feeling. It  gives us a sense of compassion  for  our learners and  their  feelings. This is essential in helping them to feel understood.  When someone really understands you, it can make a big difference to how you cope. Being empathic is not about  reassuring the learner (which tries to make the problem go away) but about being with them in the moment, carrying  and containing their big emotions. This lays the foundation for connection.