Parenting with PACE

From the moment we become parents we are on a continuous learning curve. You can read all the parenting literature in the world, and although it may help provide guidance and ideas of parenting style, you won’t know what works best with your unique and individual child until you put it into practice.

Every child learns differently, behaves differently and a style of parenting that works for one may not work for their sibling. I don’t think there is one text book on the planet that could cover everything and anything that parents will experience throughout their parenting journey.

My ASD son has recently turned 18 and I’m still on a learning journey. Believe me, I’ve tried many different parenting techniques over the years, spoken with many different specialists, read books, participated in training sessions and still I’m learning new things.

Right now, we are working with a behaviour therapist who is providing valuable support and insights. This is a completely different tact than what has been offered to us in the past, prior to receiving NDIS funding.

Recently we’ve discussed with the therapist the use of a technique called PACE.

PACE is an acronym for:

  • Playfulness
  • Acceptance
  • Curiosity, and
  • Empathy

This new technique has really given me some food for thought and another style to consider and practice. The interesting thing that I find in working with the behaviour therapist is that it’s not so much about changing the behaviour of the child, but rather changing the way I react to his behaviour.

My homework is to practice the PACE style of parenting. This is going to be challenging as we all get so set in our ways and used to how we do things.

The first thing to consider is ‘playfulness’. This is about being more light-hearted in the way you communicate with your child. Using a softer, more playful tone in your voice. It doesn’t necessarily mean making jokes, it’s more about changing the tone of your voice when communicating.

The second thing is ‘acceptance’. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with the child’s beliefs or behaviour. It simply means you accept their feelings, wishes, thoughts etcetera as their own, without judgement.

The next is ‘curiosity’. This is about asking the child questions, becoming genuinely curios and interested in what they have to say. Again, there is no need to agree, or disagree, just listen and try to understand their point of view. Once again, it’s about the tone of your voice and how you phrase the questions using ‘what’ questions rather than ‘why’. Try not to get angry or judgemental so the child feels comfortable in expressing themselves which will hopefully lead to them reflecting on their behaviour.

The final stage of PACE is ‘empathy’. This is where, as a parent, you need to let the child feel your compassion. Show that you are feeling their sadness and demonstrate your feelings to the child, sharing their problems or feeling with them and reassuring them that you can deal with this together.

I have started implementing this new parenting technique, but as with any behavioural change it will take time to learn this new style and become familiar with putting it into practice and using it effectively. I hope that by using it I can help to create a better relationship with my son where he can feel safe, secure and accepted for who he is.

If you would like to read more about PACE you may wish to visit or Google PACE parenting technique for more information.


SASI Guest Parent Blogger

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