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Dr. Stuart Shanker

Founder & Visionary, The MEHRIT Centre

Stuart Shanker's Bio

Dr. Stuart Shanker (D.Phil) is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Psychology, the Founder & Visionary of The MEHRIT Centre, Ltd., and Self-Reg Global Inc. One of his many books, “Calm, Alert and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation (2012)”, is a top-selling educational publication in Canada., 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 United Kingdom, the United States, Poland, Germany, China, South Korea, Japan, the Netherlands, Georgia and the Czech Republic. His latest books are Self-Reg Schools: A Handbook for Educators (2019) and Reframed: Self-Reg for a Just Society (2020)

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 blogs.

Stuart Shanker's Journey to Self-Reg

Dr. Stuart Shanker is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Psychology from York University, in Toronto, Canada and the Founder & Visionary 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, Self-Reg Schools: A Handbook for Educators co-authored with Susan Hopkins and Reframed: Self-Reg for a Just Society where he explores self-regulation in wider, social terms. Whereas his two previous books, Calm, Alert, and Learning and Self-Reg, were written for educators and parents, Reframed, the final book in the trilogy, unpacks the unique science and conceptual practices that are the very lifeblood of Self-Reg.

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. In 2020 he founded Self-Reg Global Inc. to establish Self-Reg on an international level, facilitating the development of Self-Reg initiatives around the world.

Degrees & Awards


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


Reframed: Self-Reg for a Just Society (2020)

Self-Reg Schools: A Handbook for Educators co-authored with Susan Hopkins (2019)

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.

Selected Writings


Shanker, S. (2020) Reframed: Self-Reg for a Just Society University of Toronto Press

Hopkins S., & Shanker, S, (2019) Self-Reg Schools A Handbook for Educators  Toronto: Pearson Education Canada.

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.


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-Reg. Reframe: 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.

Contact Info

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High Res Photo


Shanker Self-Reg® is a process for enhancing self-regulation by understanding and dealing with stress. In Self-Reg we consider both our responses to stress and our underlying state of energy and tension when we encounter a stress.

The original psychophysiological definition of self-regulation refers to how we respond to stress—whether in a manner that promotes or restricts growth. Mindful self-regulation, which enhances learning and emotional, social and physical well-being, involves learning to recognize and respond to stress in all its many facets: positive as well as negative, hidden as well as overt, minor as well as traumatic or toxic.

Shanker Self-Reg®

The practice of Shanker Self-Reg® helps people understand and respond to others (and themselves) by considering self-regulation across five interrelated domains—biological, emotion, cognitive, social, and prosocial—using The Shanker Method®:

  1. REFRAME the behavior.
  2. RECOGNIZE the stressors (across the five domains).
  3. REDUCE the stress.
  4. REFLECT: enhance stress awareness.
  5. RESTORE: develop personalized strategies to promote resilience and restoration.
Shanker Self-Reg 5 Domains 5 Steps Practices

Shanker Self-Reg® is a valuable and accessible framework for children, youth, and adults as well as people who care about and work with them. Educators and mental health professionals from across Canada and around the world are using Self-Reg to address behavioural, emotional and social problems and improve learning outcomes for all students.

Video: What is Self-Reg?

Dr. Shanker provides a succinct and clear answer to the question, “What is Self-Reg,” by explaining the relationships between stress and self-regulation in the five domains where we experience stress.

The 5 Steps of Self-Reg Graphic

This handy graphic by Kristin Wiens is a great reminder of the 5 Steps (aka Practices) of Shanker Self-Reg®:

  1. Reframe the Behaviour
  2. Recognize the Stressors
  3. Reduce Stressors
  4. Reflect: Enhance Stress Awareness
  5. Restore: Develop Strategies

Self-Reg in 60 Seconds Video Series

with Stuart Shanker

In this series, great for sharing with colleagues and friends who are new to Self-Reg, Dr. Shanker discusses energy & tension, reframing, seeing a child differently, and the 5 Domains (Biological, Emotion, Cognitive, Social & Prosocial).


Self-Reg Foundations Certificate Program

Our flagship Self-Reg Foundations Certificate Program has been a game-changer for thousands of learners, bringing them to an entirely new understanding of what makes people tick. Join Stuart Shanker and Susan Hopkins as they take you deep into the science of self-regulation and stress, including the brain/body stress system, how stress affects children’s behaviour and the importance of relationships in self-regulation and learning. 

Leadership for Self-Reg Schools Certificate Program

School leaders today are confronted with behavioural, emotional, and cognitive challenges far in excess of what their predecessors had to contend with. The Leadership for Self-Reg School Certificate Program has been developed specifically for school leaders: with the knowledge and guidelines needed for their school to become a centre of deep learning, in all its many facets.

Self-Reg in Early Childhood Development Program

The Self-Reg in Early Childhood Development Certificate Program explores child development from birth to age 10 and is relevant for anyone who has or works with young children, neurodiverse children, challenging children or children with special rights or needs. Learn the core underpinnings of Self-Reg and why we truly believe that there is no such thing as a bad kid.