The International Day of Happiness and PACE Parenting

The International Day of Happiness is a global movement towards a happier, more inclusive, and compassionate world. This year’s theme is ‘Happier Together’, which aims to remind us of the importance of feeling connected to others, and feeling we belong to something bigger than ourselves.

Feeling connected

Connection is important for all of us, at all stages of our lives, but it is especially important for children. Little brains are forming millions of neural connections and our early experiences play a huge role in how our brains develop.

A secure and trusting child-carer relationship helps the child to feel safe. When a child feels safe, they are able to explore the world, and learn from their experiences and others around them. Connection is, therefore, at the very heart of our early development. 

PACE parenting and building healthy relationships

We can build safe and secure relationships with young people by adopting the principles of P.A.C.E. The P.A.C.E parenting approach was developed by clinical psychologist Dr Dan Hughes. It is an evidence-based way of thinking, feeling, and communicating that helps carers to build safety, security, and trust in the adult-child relationship.

What does PACE stand for?

P- Playfulness allows children to explore, learn, and develop their social and emotional skills. Being playful could mean engaging in a fun shared activity or interacting in ways which encourage laughter and spontaneity to build a meaningful connection.

A- Acceptance means embracing and valuing young people for who they are, and without judgement. It is to accept the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that may be driving undesirable behaviour, and highlights the importance of showing children that we are there to support them unconditionally. 

C- Curiosity means that we need to put aside our assumptions, remain non-judgemental, and be open to gaining new perspectives on the reasons behind a young person’ words and actions.

E- Empathy means “feeling with”, i.e., helping to develop safety and trust in the relationship by stepping into the child’s shoes and connecting with, supporting and validating, their emotional experience.

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