The Importance of Playfulness: An Introduction to PACE
This blog was written by Director of FamilyWorks Together, Alisha Wolf, MPH, LGSW. Join Alisha at the 2017 Professional Conference!
PACE is a way of thinking, feeling and interacting with a child that helps the child feel safe. Children with a trauma history have learned that the world is an unpredictable and dangerous place. The adults caring for these children can send messages of safety by utilizing PACE.
PACE stands for Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy. It is based on how parents connect with infants, and the model holds true for connecting to children of all ages. Creating safety for our child allows the opportunity for that child to explore the world, their family, and themselves.
Dr. Jon Baylin is a psychologist, writer, and internationally renowned expert in the field of attachment. He will be discussing PACE, as well as many other ways to connect with children (for parents), and how to coach families towards connection (for professionals) at our 2017 Conference on Friday, May 5th. For more information on the conference, click HERE.
This week we will discuss the importance of playfulness.
When we are interacting with an infant, we are naturally playful. We smile at them, sing them silly songs, and laugh when they sneeze or make a funny face. This playful interaction creates mutual positive feelings and a sense of connection. Both parties think, “I like being around this person because we are playful together!” Playfulness reminds us that disagreements and arguments are temporary, and that we have a positive, solid foundation to return to.
Being playful with an older child can sometimes prove more difficult. Some older children are not used to being playful with adults. However, mistrustful children often have trouble connecting physically with adults—hugs or snuggles can feel overwhelming or too intimate. Developing a sense of playfulness can create connection from a safe distance. You can create an opportunity for playfulness by making cookies with silly faces, having a hula hoop context, drawing with chalk in your driveway, or building a fort together. But you can also be playful in how you respond to tough situations. Pushing yourself to be playful when you’re frustrated can provide an unexpected opportunity to connect with your child. Laughing when you want to scream may just make your child laugh too—and it will also lighten your load!
I encourage you to bring out your sillies this week—even when it’s hard! Because being playful may not be easy, but it certainly is fun.
Let us know! How were you playful with your child this week?