It’s PACE, Not Just ‘P’

Originally posted June 17, 2013


(photo by Katherine Evans; used with permission)

My friend, Billy, always tells a story of one of his clients who was having some very big feelings during a session.  Billy became very playful again and again, to see if he could help the child pull out of the “stuck” place he appeared to be in.  The kid finally called him on it and said something to the tune of, “You couldn’t handle it!”

He got schooled by a client.  He was leaning toward being “playful,” when what that kid needed was for him to head more toward the “accepting,” “curious” or “empathic” side of P.A.C.E.  The kid needed to be heard and he needed to be given the time tofeel what he was feeling.

I have always found that story really funny.  Really funny.  For Billy.

In recent days I have had to admit that I regularly lean toward the “P,” and prefer to avoid the rest of the acronym when I can.  Digging in feels uncomfortable, because I have to sit with my child’s discomfort. I don’t want to do that.  I would very much like it to just go away.

Preachin’ to the choir, I know.

Many people say, “Well, I’m not as good at being playful as you!  You’re just GOOD at it.”

Okay, maybe.  I am a right-brained natural creative type and can brainstorm for hours without blinking.  But also, I like being playful over a lot of my other options because it can sometimes be a fast way to create a positive shock and move a child out of an emotionally and mentally “stuck” place.  Thus … I can feel better that I’m no longer having to watch and witness their stuff.

I’m finding it even harder to sit with the tough feelings, the older my kids get.  They have many more words.  So, I’m having many more levels of uncomfortableness.  I want to fix them or tell them why they shouldn’t feel what they’re feeling.  I also have an insane craving to tell them why it’s all not that big of a deal and it will get better when they’re older and they should just do-whatever-I-think-I-know-is-best-blah-blah-blah-blah-blaaaahhhhh.

So, here are some things that I’m reading and trying my best not to ignore.  If the way-too-playful shoe fits …

Dan the Magic Man

The Art of Emotion Coaching

Emotional Coaching  (This will open a pdf that basically covers all of John Gottman’s teaching on the subject.  But don’t open it until you are bent over and ready for a swift kick.)