Our Story

Dr. Stuart Shanker and the two initiatives he founded, The MEHRIT Centre and the Self-Regulation Institute, are Canadian and global leaders in grounding living and learning in self-regulation. Decades of research have shown that self-regulation is the foundation of healthy human development; adaptive coping skills; positive parenting; learning; safe and caring schools; and vibrant communities.

Dr. Shanker has developed Shanker Self-Reg™: a powerful method for understanding stress and managing tension and energy, which are the key to enhancing self-regulation in children, teens and adults of all ages.

We are dedicated to helping people use Self-Reg as a tool to help every child to thrive, and flourish. Dr. Shanker says, “I want every child, family and community to embrace the gift of life. I want them to have the opportunity, and the resources as well, to realize their gifts and to deal with the challenges that are part of their lives.”

In 2005, Canadian philanthropists Milton and Ethel Harris donated $5 million dollars, and the Harris family donated a further $2.5 million in 2009 to fund ground-breaking child development research at York University, led by Dr. Stuart Shanker. It was the largest private donation in York’s history. Eleven years later Milt Harris’s vision for enhancing the potential of each and every child is becoming an exciting reality.

Dr. Shanker’s innovative study, conducted at the Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative (MEHRI), provided clear and compelling evidence that the social, emotional and language development of children with autism could be dramatically improved by working on their self-regulation. The study also demonstrated significant stress reduction in both child and parent. But as ground-breaking as these findings were, by far the most significant aspect of the work done at MEHRI was on the importance of self-regulation for all children and youth.

In 2012, Dr. Shanker founded The MEHRIT Centre Ltd. to act as a hub and catalyst for self-regulation education and practice. Dr. Shanker’s ideas and work have sparked a worldwide conversation about the impact of stress on children’s lives and development and how to reduce the impact of excessive stress on children and adults. All over Canada and around the world, parents and educators are now working on their own and their children and students’ self-regulation. TMC, under the day-to-day leadership of educator, Dr. Susan Hopkins, is the leading resource that supports this vital work.

By practicing Self-Reg we will be able to nurture our next generation of teachers, mothers, artisans and visionaries.”

-Dr. Stuart Shanker

After founding TMC, we realized that there is now more than ever a pressing need for research that will deepen our understanding of the different stresses that we must all contend with, and how best to manage them.

Accordingly, in 2016, Dr. Shanker founded the Self Regulation Institute, a sister organization to The MEHRIT Centre. SRI is a not-for-profit charitable organization, based at Trent University, under the direction of Dr. Shanker who also acts as the Science Director. Brenda Smith-Chant, a psychology professor at Trent and a former researcher for the Ministry of Education in Ontario, is SRI’s Director of Research.

SRI was created to study self-regulation in all its many aspects and conduct applied and community-based research on the effects of practicing self-regulation. The purpose of SRI is to support health and wellness in children, youth, and adults by supporting, conducting, and eventually funding applied and basic interdisciplinary research on self-regulation in any of the five domains of well-being: biological, emotional, cognitive, social, and prosocial.

The Self-Regulation Institute also disseminates evidence-based information on self-regulation and effective self-regulation techniques; encourages and supports initiatives designed to promote self-regulation in communities and organizations; and identifies factors that support and inhibit the impact of self-regulation initiatives. Read more about our 5 research priority areas here.

Inspiring support for the Self-Regulation Institute received from David Harris, John Harris, Judith Harris and Naomi Harris.