Pyramid Model tips for parents

A major focus of the Rooted in Relationships initiative is supporting childcare programs as they implement the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children. The Pyramid Model is a framework of evidence-based practices that promote the social, emotional, and behavioral competence of young children.

That’s enough jargon to make your head spin! But what does it mean for parents or other caregivers? Read on for a short explanation of the Pyramid Model, as well as a downloadable card for parents to refer to as they navigate their child’s early years.

What is the Pyramid Model?

The overarching goal of the Pyramid Model is to create a positive experience for each child through evidence-based practices that promote child engagement and learning while focusing on teaching children the appropriate social skills they’ll use to develop friendships and regulate their emotions.

The Pyramid Model is designed to provide strategies for encouraging healthy social-emotional development and a strong foundation for all children, with increasing levels of support for children who need additional interventions.

The Model includes four levels. At the base of the pyramid is the tier that represents the high-quality early childhood workforce. This tier’s purpose is to provide professional development aimed at the use of high-quality practices and to widen the availability of systems and policies that promote and sustain the use of evidence-based practices.

The Pyramid Model’s tier 1 focuses on building nurturing and responsive relationships, because research demonstrates that supportive, responsive relationships between adults and children are an essential component of healthy development. This tier also promotes high-quality, supportive environments by evaluating how the child’s environment is set up, the presence of predictable routines and visual schedules, and the use of appropriate transitions between activities. These are universal supports that should be available to all children.

Tier 2 of the Pyramid Model centers on systematic approaches to teaching social skills, including how to appropriately enter play, share with others, take turns, name and manage the emotions of yourself and others, and solve conflicts. The skills in this tier are both targeted to some children with greater needs and available to all children.

Once the bottom three tiers have been put into place, there may still be a small number of children with persistent, severe challenging behaviors who need additional support to be successful. Tier 3, at the top of the Pyramid Model, is focused on supporting these children through intensive, assessment-based interventions that result in an individualized behavior support plan. These plans will be used with only a few children.

What does it mean for parents?

Every day, parents and early childhood professionals face difficult situations as they respond to children’s behaviors. And because more and more challenging behaviors are showing up at increasingly younger ages, it’s no surprise that this is having a negative impact on the programs where very young children spend their time. The Pyramid Model is designed to counteract these negative effects by strengthening and supporting children’s social-emotional development from birth to age eight.

Parents and other caregivers have a crucial role in reinforcing the social- emotional development of young children. To help you know exactly what that means, we’ve developed a “parent card” with six quick strategies you can use in your home to strengthen your child’s social-emotional development.

This card offers ways to encourage a child’s independence, empower them, and praise them for the good they’ve done. Click on the image below to download the parent card PDF to print out or share. And if you’d like to learn more about the Pyramid Model, head to the Rooted in Relationships page to keep reading.


Nebraska Children's mission is to maximize the potential of Nebraska’s children, youth, and families through collaboration and community-centered impact.

Posted in Early Childhood
2 comments on “Pyramid Model tips for parents
  1. […] fall, we highlighted Rooted in Relationship’s primary tenet: the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children. […]

  2. […] down the line. Examples of Nebraska Children’s preventative practices include implementing Pyramid Model parenting tips, providing home care family support, supporting community outreach programs for youth, encouraging […]

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