When confronted with a child who is communicating to us through their behaviour we can sometime misconnect with them, misunderstanding the deeper feelings and focussing on the surface level of the behaviour itself. Dan Hughes PACE Model is a great resource to help us connect rather than misconnect with a child through our interactions and responses. When using this whole child approach the child can build a trusted relationship with an adult which is the foundation for repair.

Using a light-hearted, reassuring tone – similar to parent-infant interactions – to creating an atmosphere of safety and reassurance where no one feels judged and the child feels able to cope with positive feelings.
Acceptance is about actively communicating that you accept the feelings, thoughts and internal struggles that are underneath the child’s outward behaviour. It is not about accepting the behaviour itself but helping to teach the child to not feel ashamed by their inner turmoil.
Curiosity, without judgement, is how we help children become aware of their inner life. It’s about wondering out loud without necessary expecting an answer in return. Phrases like “I wonder if…” will help the child to put a name to their emotions and thoughts.
Feeling a child’s sadness or distress with them, being emotionally available to them during times of difficulty shows the child that they are not alone and that the adults are strong enough to support them both through it.

For more in depth information about the PACE model please go to the following website

Brené Brown describes the difference between sympathy and empathy as ‘feeling with people’ This video provides a great insight into how we can do this.

Early Learning Contacts

Nicola Theobald, Early Years Improvement Officer
Kate Hubble, Senior Foundation Years Consultant
Nicky Bale, Foundation Years Bristol Standard Consultant
Beth Osborne, Foundation Years Consultant Birth to Three
Kate Irvine, Interim Foundation Years Consultant
Ali Carrington, Interim Foundation Years Consultant