What is The Pyramid Model?

Photo courtesy of the NCPMI resource library: https://challengingbehavior.org/document/pyramid-model-handout/

The Pyramid Model for Promoting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children, often referred to as The Pyramid Model, is a framework used in early childhood education to promote social and emotional development in young children and address challenging behaviors. It is designed to support the overall well-being of young children by fostering a positive social and emotional environment.

Why and How Was The Pyramid Model Created?

Development of the Pyramid Model stemmed from the recognition of the importance of early childhood development and the need for a comprehensive framework to guide educators, caregivers, and parents in promoting children’s social-emotional competence and preventing challenging behaviors.

The Pyramid Model was developed collaboratively by various experts, practitioners, and researchers in the field of early childhood education and behavioral intervention. These individuals came together to synthesize existing research, best practices, and practical experiences into a coherent and effective model.

Learn more about the research behind The Pyramid Model at the video below:

Who Uses The Pyramid Model?

The Pyramid Model is utilized by teachers, caregivers, early childhood educators, mental health professionals, and administrators to enhance social and emotional development in young children. Families participate in The Pyramid Model as well. The goal is to promote positive behaviors, teach important social-emotional skills, and prevent challenging behaviors through a tiered approach that addresses the needs of all children while providing additional support for those who require it.

What are the Tiers of The Pyramid Model Framework?

The Pyramid Model consists of three tiers, each addressing different levels of support and intervention:

Visual of The Pyramid Model

1. Universal Supports (Tier 1):

This level focuses on promoting a positive and nurturing social-emotional climate for all children. It includes strategies and practices that are beneficial for the overall classroom or early childhood setting. Key components at this tier involve creating a supportive environment, promoting positive relationships, teaching social-emotional skills, and preventing challenging behaviors.

Establishing a classroom routine where children understand what happens next as well as rules and behavioral expectations are key in Tier 1. 

The Discovery Source resources and supports for Tier 1: Emotional Literacy Kit, Super Friends Kit, Classroom Visual Display Kit

2. Targeted Social Emotional Supports (Tier 2):

At this tier, The Pyramid Model provides additional support to children who may need more targeted assistance. This could include children who are experiencing mild to moderate social-emotional challenges. It involves implementing strategies such as small group interventions, individualized social-emotional teaching, and specific supports for children exhibiting challenging behaviors.

Self-regulation techniques, conflict resolution strategies, and communication supports are key in Tier 2. 

The Discovery Source resources and supports for Tier 2: Problem Solver Solutions Kit, Tucker Turtle Kit, Super Friends Kit

3. Intensive Individualized Supports (Tier 3):

This level is designed for children with persistent and significant social-emotional challenges. Individualized plans and interventions are developed to address the unique needs of these children. This may involve a multidisciplinary team approach, individual behavior plans, family involvement, and collaboration with specialists to provide the necessary support.


Children practice their Tucker Technique, a Pyramid Model strategy used to calm their bodies.Children practice their Tucker Technique, a Pyramid Model strategy used to calm their bodies.


Proactive and Positive Support for Social-emotional Development

The Pyramid Model emphasizes the importance of building positive relationships, creating an inclusive and engaging learning environment, and teaching social-emotional skills to young children. It aims to prevent challenging behaviors by addressing the underlying social and emotional needs of each child.

The Pyramid Model has been implemented in various states across the United States and has also gained attention and adoption in other countries. Its principles and strategies are often integrated into professional development programs, training workshops, and early childhood education curricula to equip educators and caregivers with the knowledge and tools needed to support social-emotional competence in young children.

The Pyramid Model Kit is available from The Discovery SourceThe Pyramid Model Kit is available from The Discovery Source.


The Pyramid Model Wrap-up

The Pyramid Model’s impact is broad, aiming to create nurturing and inclusive environments that foster healthy social-emotional development, relationships, and lifelong learning skills for young children. As awareness of the importance of early childhood social-emotional development continues to grow globally, the Pyramid Model’s influence and utilization expands as well.

If you would like more information on Pyramid Model training or how to implement Pyramid Model practices, please contact us. The Discovery Source offers resources, materials, and professional development that can be tailored to schools, center-based programs, or family child care providers.

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