Dr. Stuart Shanker

Dr. Stuart Shanker 2019-08-07T13:38:39+00:00

Dr. Stuart Shanker is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The MEHRIT Centre.

Dr. Stuart Shanker (D.Phil) is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Psychology, the CEO of The MEHRIT Centre, Ltd., and founder and Science Director of the Self-Regulation Institute. One of his many books, “Calm, Alert and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation (2012)”, is a top selling educational publication in Canada. His latest book, Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage With Life (2016), has garnered enthusiastic reviews and media attention throughout North America and has also been published in the UK, the US, Poland, Germany, South Korea, The Netherlands, and The Czech Republic, with further translations and foreign editions in the works.

Over the past decade, Dr. Shanker has served as an advisor on early child development to government organizations across Canada and the United States, and in countries around the world. During this period, he became increasingly interested in the impact of excessive stress on child development and behaviour.  Dr. Shanker’s five-step Self-Reg model, The Shanker Method®, is a powerful process for understanding and managing stress in children, youth and adults.

In 2012 Dr. Shanker founded The MEHRIT Centre as a Self-Reg learning and information centre. Dr. Shanker commits considerable time to bringing the research and science of Self-Reg to parents, early childhood educators, teachers, educational leaders, health practitioners and communities through presentations, master classes, online courses, webinars, publications, social media and a blog entitled, “The Self-Reg View”.

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More about Dr. Stuart Shanker and his Journey to Self-Reg

Dr. Stuart Shanker is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Psychology at York University, in Toronto, Canada and the CEO of the MEHRIT Centre, Ltd. He is best known as one of the world’s leading authorities on self-regulation and child development.

An internationally acclaimed speaker, educator and author, Dr. Shanker has written many influential books and articles including, Calm, Alert and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation (2012), one of Canada’s top selling educational publication ever, and Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life (2016) which has been translated into five languages and continues to be an Amazon top-seller in several categories.

In 1975, Dr. Shanker, who had studied English literature at the University of Toronto, received a scholarship to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford. At Oxford he won the Marian Buck Fellowship at Christ Church, where he received his B Phil in philosophy and his D Phil in the philosophy of mathematics. During his post-doctoral fellowship at Oxford he studied Wittgenstein’s critique of Alan Turing’s mechanistic theory of learning, which resulted in his 1998 book Wittgenstein’s Remarks on the Foundations of AI. During this period Dr. Shanker became highly interested in child development, which he studied under the eminent developmental psychologist, Jerome Bruner. This led to a burgeoning interest in the the role that emotion and social engagement play in language development. Shortly after Dr. Shanker accepted a position at York University, in 1986, he was cross-appointed in both the philosophy and psychology departments, which allowed him to pursue his interests in child development.

During the 1990s Dr. Shanker worked and collaborated with many prominent academics, scientists and clinicians, including the anthropologist Barbara King, the primatologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, and the linguist Talbot Taylor. In 1998 Dr. Shanker began an intensive training in child psychotherapy under the late Stanley Greenspan. He went on to write the award-winning The First Idea with Greenspan (2004).

In 2005 Dr. Shanker received a $7 million grant from the Milton and Ethel Harris Foundation to establish a state-of-the-art cognitive and social neuroscience centre at York University. From 2007 – 2012 he served as director of the Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative (MEHRI), which undertook a major study of an adapted version of DIR therapy for children on the autism spectrum. This study showed that the MEHRI version of DIR, called MEHRIT, greatly increased the children’s capacity to share and initiate joint attention and reciprocal interaction with their parents, and to develop important functional language skills.

In 2007, Dr. Shanker became the first President of the Canadian Council of Early Child Development. He worked closely with J. Fraser Mustard for the next two years and the two of them, together with Margaret McCain, published Early Years Study II in 2007.

Along with his work as a professor at York University, Dr. Shanker has served as an advisor on early child development to government organizations across Canada and the US and countries around the world, including. Australia, Bosnia, Colombia, England, Hungary, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Peru, Romania, and Serbia. Most recently he served as the 2012 Thinker in Residence for Western Australia, and then returned two years later to follow up on the work that had been initiated during his tenure in Perth. He also served as Director of the Council of Human Development for ten years, an interdisciplinary dynamic systems think tank; and as the Director of the Canada-Cuba Research Alliance for six years.

Throughout his career, Dr. Shanker has studied the role of self-regulation in mental and physical wellbeing. He has focused on the beneficial role that stress plays in children’s development and learning and the worrying effects of excessive stress. Over the past five years he developed Shanker Self-Reg®, his five-domain model for understanding, recognizing and alleviating the negative impact of excessive stress. In 2012 he founded The MEHRIT Centre to promote and teach the practice of Self-Reg on a broader scale to teachers and parents. In 2016 he founded The Self-Regulation Institute (SRI) with its mission to enhance the health and wellbeing of children, youth, adults, and communities through integrative research steered by the innovative Self-Reg model.


Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (And You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life (2016), with Teresa Barker
Calm, Alert, and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation (2012)
Early Years Study 2: Putting Science into Action (2007), with Fraser Mustard and Margaret Norrie McCain
Human Development in the 21st Century (2007), with Alan Fogel and Barbara J. King
The First Idea: How Symbols, language and intelligence evolved from our primate ancestors to modern humans. (2004), with Stanley Greenspan.


D.Phil., Oxford
B.Phil., Oxford. First Class
M.A., English Literature, University of Toronto. First Class
B.A., Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, Oxford. First Class
B.A., English Literature, University of Toronto. First Class


Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship and Postdoctoral Fellowship
Calgary Institute for the Humanities Fellowship
University of Alberta Mactaggart Fellowship
Izaak Walton Killam Fellowship at the University of Alberta
Walter L Gordon Fellowship at York University

Selected Writings from Dr. Shanker


Shanker, S., Barker, T. (2016)  Self-Reg: How To Help Your Child (And You) Break The Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage With Life. Penguin Random House Canada (foreign editions German, Korean, Polish, Czech, Japanese, Chinese, UK, USA)

Shanker, S. (2012). Calm, Alert, and Learning: Classroom strategies for self-regulation. Toronto: Pearson Education Canada.

Fogel, A., King, B. J., & Shanker, S. (Eds.) (2008). Human Development in the Twenty-First Century: Visionary ideas from systems scientists. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Greenspan, S. & Shanker, S. (2004). The First Idea: How symbols, language, and intelligence evolved from our primate ancestors to modern humans. Boston: DaCapo Press.

Greenspan, S. & Shanker, S. (2002). Toward a Psychology of Global Interdependency: A Framework for International Collaboration. Washington: ICDL Press.

David Bakhurst, D. & Shanker, S. (Eds). (2001).  Language, Culture, Self: The philosophical psychology of Jerome Bruner. London: Sage.

Savage-Rumbaugh, E. Shanker, S. & Taylor, T. (1998). Apes, Language, and the Human Mind. New York: Oxford University Press.


Shanker, S. & Hopkins, S. (2017). On becoming a self-reg haven. In W. Steele (Ed.), Optimizing learning outcomes: Proven brain-centric, trauma-sensitive practices. (pp. 30-57). New York: Routledge.

Shanker, S. & Casenhiser, D. (2013). Reducing the effort in effortful control. In T. Racine & K. Slaney (Eds), A Wittgensteinian perspective on the use of conceptual analysis in psychology (pp. 214-232). New York: Palmgrove Macmillan.

Shanker, S. (2012). Emotion regulation through the ages. In A. Foolen, U. M. Ludtke, T. P. Racine, & J. Zlatev, Moving ourselves, moving others (pp. 105-138). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Shanker, S. & Downer, R. (2012). Enhancing the potential in children (EPIC). In L. Miller & D. Hevey (Eds), Policy issues in the early years (pp. 61-76). London: Sage.

Greenspan, S. & Shanker, S. (2006). A developmental framework for depth psychology and a definition of healthy emotion functioning. In PDM Taskforce, Psychodynamic diagnostic manual (pp. 431-482). Silver Spring, MD: Alliance of Psychoanalytic Organizations.

Greenspan, S. I. & Shanker, S. (2005). Developmental research. In E. S. Person, A. M. Cooper, & G. O. Gabbard (Eds), The American Psychiatric Publishing textbook of psychoanalysis (pp. 335-360). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Psychology Today

Looking at ADHD With a Self-Reg Lens

Self-Reg: The Nature of Stress

Self-Reg: Self-Regulation vs. Self Control

Caught in a Stress Cycle

“Lumos Solem” Breaking Free from a Stress Cycle

Reframing Temperament “Difficult” vs “Stressed”

The Truth About Lying

Self-Reg and Holiday Stress: Restoring the Balance

Why is my Child so Mentally Lazy?

Reframing IQ

Journal Articles

Shanker, S. (2018). Reframing High Math Anxiety: Avoiding the Perils of a Victorian Paradigm: Stemming the Divide. Reframe: The Journal of Self-Reg, 1(1), 1-18.

Hopkins, S., Shanker, S. & Leslie, R. (2017). Self-regulation, self-control, and the practice of Shanker Self-RegReframe: The Journal of Self-Reg, 1(1), 58-75.

Burman, J. T., Green, C. D. & Shanker, S. (2015), On the meanings of self-regulation: Digital humanities in service of conceptual clarity. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12395

Casenhiser, D., Binns, A., McGill, F., Morderer, O. & Shanker, S. (2014). Measuring and supporting language function for children with autism: Evidence from a randomized control trial of a social-interaction-based therapy, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(3). DOI:10.1007/s10803-014-2242-3 ·

García Domínguez, L., Stieben, J. · Pérez Velázquez, L. ·Shanker, S. (2013). The imaginary part of coherency in autism: Differences in cortical functional connectivity in preschool children. PLoS ONE 10/2013; 8(10):e75941. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0075941 ·

Casenhiser, D., Shanker, S. & Stieben, J. (2011). Learning through interaction in children with autism: preliminary data from a social-communication-based Intervention. Autism, 17(2). DOI:10.1177/1362361311422052

Shanker, S.G. (2008). In search of the pathways that lead to mentally healthy children. Journal of Developmental Processes, 3(1),22-33.

Greenspan, S. I., Brazelton, T. B., Cordero, J., Solomon, R., Bauman, M. L., Robinson, R., Shanker, S., & Breinbauer, C. (2008). Guidelines for early identification, screening, and clinical management of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Pediatrics, 121(4), 823-830. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-3833

Greenspan, S. & Shanker, S. (2007). The developmental pathways leading to pattern recognition, joint attention, language and cognition. New Ideas in Psychology, 25(2), 128-142. doi: 10.1016/j.newideapsych.2007.02.007

Shanker, S. (2004). Autism and the Dynamic Developmental Model of Emotions. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology 11(3), 219-233. The Johns Hopkins University Press.


Shanker, S. (2010). Foreword, Growing Miracles: The first six years with your child (2nd ed). Alberta Health Services.

Shanker, S. (2009). Foreword, Every Child Every Opportunity: Curriculum and Pedagogy for the Early Learning Program, Province of Ontario.

McCain, M. N., Mustard, J. F., & Shanker, S. (2007). Early years study 2: Putting science into action. Toronto: Council for Early Child Development.

Cordero, J., Greenspan, S. I., Bauman, M. L., Brazelton, T. B., Dawson, G., Dunbar, B., Mundy, P. C., Perou, R., Scott, K. G.,Shanker, S.G., & Stein, R. E. K. (2006). CDC/ICDL collaboration report on a framework for early identification and preventative intervention of emotional and developmental challenges. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control.

Greenspan, S. I. & Shanker, S. (2005). Developmental research. In E. S. Person, A. M. Cooper, & G. O. Gabbard (Eds), The American Psychiatric Publishing textbook of psychoanalysis (pp. 335-360). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.