Momentous Institute has been building and repairing social emotional health for nearly a century. Almost anywhere you look, the research confirms what we know to be true – that people with solid social emotional intelligence are happier, healthier and more successful.

We have designed a model for social emotional health based on what we have learned over the course of almost 100 years of working with kids.

We have conceptualized the model using this stair stepped approach. You’ll notice that the base of the entire model is safe relationships.

Children need safe relationships to begin working on these steps. Sometimes there is only one safe adult relationship in a child’s life – it could be a parent, therapist, teacher, coach, or minister.

In the context of safe relationships, kids can begin working on self-regulation. This is the ability for a child to be in control of her actions and reactions. It involves understanding the basics of the brain, how to use breath as an anchor, how to best manage feelings, and control the body and impulses.

The next step, awareness of self, moves the child into a deeper emotional space where she can experience feelings such as gratitude and optimism. With awareness of self, a child can have grit to persist through challenges and resilience to bounce back. When a child is self-aware, she is better able to understand others.

She can take the perspective of a peer and can express empathy for others.

Lastly, a child who has developed strong skills in the first three steps is better positioned to become a changemaker. This child shows kindness and compassion for herself and others, and has a sense of hope for the future. Changemakers are the people in the community who are making a positive difference and who are satisfied with their personal lives. They are happy, productive, engaged in meaningful relationships and contributing to the greater good.


Although our model is in the form of steps, it’s not necessarily a linear process. Children are moving in and out of all of these steps much of the time. The step model is helpful for those of us who are working with children to have a context for where the most appropriate intervention should be targeted. If a child is completely dysregulated, intervening at the perspective taking step will be pointless. If we intervene at the appropriate place on the model to match the child, our chances for successfully managing the issue increase!


As we continue to fill this blog with strategies, we’ll move along this model. We’ve already begun sharing about the first step, the brain. Stay tuned for strategies for all of the steps on this model, such as breathing, gratitude, empathy, resilience, and much more. We’ll also have plenty of other posts sprinkled in about topics that are relevant and important to those who care for and work with children

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