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Using PACE with my Children

“If only I had known about this sooner!” is a common phrase I hear from caregivers who have taken our training, and one I find myself saying a lot lately.

When there’s moody behaviour, disrespect and meltdowns in my whare (home), I’m thankful for what I have learned from our training as it gives me something to turn to.

Recently Mr. 7 and Mr. 8 decided to get up at around 5:30am to make their lunch, have breakfast and play. Our rule is no one up till 7:00am, because we know how dysregulated they’re going to be by the end of the day. Kids need sleep! The noise woke up Miss 16, who tried to send them back to bed. I woke to their noise and tried to get them back to sleep. By now they were screaming and play fighting and it’s not even 6:30am! So we all started the day feeling tired and irritated.

Here’s how I integrated the principles of PACE into my response…


First I had to regulate my emotional state.

I couldn’t deal with them in the moment. I had to ignore their behaviour and think about my approach while I got ready for the day.

Next, I sat us down in a calm space with no distractions.

I needed them to focus – telling my children to look me in the eyes can be uncomfortable, but when we see each other we can hear each other.

Communication rules – no talking over one another.

I acknowledged that they had something to say, but when I am talking you listen, and I must show them the same respect.

I was curious as to why they were acting this way.

“I wonder if it’s because you were both still hungry after last night?” “I wonder if you’re scared to catch the bus because XYZ is also on the bus and is that why you hit your brother?” We can discover a lot by looking outside the behaviour and thinking of all the triggers that could be setting them off.

I watched their body language and responded with empathy, giving voice to their behaviour and thoughts.

“I know you didn’t want to hurt your brother, and I know you’re trying to tell him you were scared and needed to stay close to him.” “I am proud of how you can do so many things for yourself and I am sorry that you think I don’t see that, but I do!”

Moving from shame to guilt.

“Can you see that your brother is hurt and that he doesn’t want you to hurt him?”

Taking ownership for our actions – me included.

“I can see that you both were very hungry this morning.” Again, watching that body language to see if it is safe for them to apologise to one another and embrace.

Reminding them of the rules and explaining why we have them.

“You need to sleep so you’re not upset on the bus and at school. Same with us, when you wake up early, we wake up early and then we are all upset.” Drawing out that empathy for one another.


“Let’s have something more to eat, I don’t want you to feel hungry.” “I will take you both to school today, no bus.” “Mr. 8, I will help you to learn how to prepare more filling breakfasts in the morning, so long as it’s after 7am.”

Relationship repair

Embrace them, make them feel safe and warm with you, remind them they are loved and no matter what, we can get through this. Give them hope.

Be encouraged to keep at it with PACE! Change does happen.