Playful Parenting, Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy (P.A.C.E)

ARC Adoption’s playful parenting course is based on a therapeutic model of parenting developed by American psychologist Dan Hughes.

His Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy (P.A.C.E) model is internationally recognised and promoted across a wide range of agencies working in the fields of Adoption and Fostering.

At ARC Adoption all adopters are invited to attend a one-day introductory course exploring P.A.C.E and introduce ideas about styles of parenting that can best help children recover and repair from any trauma and relationship difficulties that they have experienced prior to joining their adoptive families.

Dan Hughes describes P.A.C.E as an ‘attitude’ maintained in parenting, (and other relationships), that supports children to feel safe and connected to their parents in ways that help them to develop a more positive sense of themselves, and a sense of security and trust in their relationship with other people. These components are fundamental in helping children to develop strong and secure attachments with their adoptive parents and other family members.

P.A.C.E stands for:

Playfulness - being spontaneous, in the moment, using a sing-song storytelling voice, learning to live and play in their worlds to de-fuse tension

Acceptance - telling children through words and importantly tone of voice, that you love and accept them, if not their behaviour, however angry or frustrated or annoyed or hyper they get.

Curiosity - avoiding judgement and being open to discovering why they feel that way, and being prepared to be influenced by what we hear. We step into their world for a moment, and dive deep to discover their truth.

Empathy - by matching their intensity, tone and pace, by opening our hearts to reflect their feelings, we assure them that we are listening, that we are doing our best to understand. We look to understand them.

Throughout the day participants are supported to consider what each of these approaches involves and how they can be incorporated into everyday life with their children and each other.

Over time and with supportive P.A.C.E parenting children can gain the skills necessary to better understand and regulate their emotions. This will in turn help parents and children to work together to enable children to modify and change any more difficult behaviours, resulting from disruptive and traumatic early life experiences, that children continue to display within their adoptive families.

This may, at first sound a bit daunting, but as with all training delivered by ARC Adoption, the training aims to be as relaxed and informal as possible. Feedback from adopters who have attended the P.A.C.E sessions have commented that they were an enjoyable experience and beneficial to them and their children. 



The sessions are led by two qualified members of ARC Adoption’s Therapeutic Adoption Support Services (TASS) team. We don’t expect that after one day of training participants will feel totally confident about being able to parent with P.A.C.E. Rather the training is intended to introduce the concept of parenting with P.A.C.E.

Ongoing support from members of ARC Adoption’s Therapeutic Adoption Support Services team, together with further learning and development will be available to any parents wishing to develop their understanding of attachment issues and skills in parenting with P.A.C.E.

Dates for 2019 are as follows:

20th July

21st September

16th November

ARC Adoption are hugely grateful to Emma Sutton http://nibblesandbubbles.co.uk/resources/pace-poster/ for allowing us to share this fantastic resource which visually illustrates Emma Sutton’s interpretations of the four principles of PACE. The illustration was created by Emma Sutton with input from clinical psychologist and renowned expert on P.A.C.E and therapeutic parenting, Kim Golding.

If you would like to find out more about the adoption training that you will receive at ARC Adoption or for more information about the adoption process please call the team at ARC Adoption on 0191 516 6466 or click the button below to submit an enquiry and a member of the ARC Adoption team will contact you as soon as possible. 

Adoption enquiry