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DIR is the Developmental, Individual-differences, & Relationship-based model developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan to provide a foundational framework for understanding human development. It explains the critical role of social emotional development starting at birth and continuing throughout the lifespan. It also provides a framework for understanding how each person individually perceives and interacts with the world differently. The model highlights the power of relationships and emotional connections to fuel development. Through a deep understanding of the "D" and the "I" we can use the "R" to promote healthy development and to help every child reach their fullest potential.

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The objectives of the DIR model are to build foundations for social, emotional, and intellectual capacities rather than focusing exclusively on skills and isolated behaviors.


The “D” describes DEVELOPMENT from the perspective of the individual, where they are and where they are headed.


The "I" describes the unique ways each person takes in, regulates, responds to and comprehends the world around them, INDIVIDUAL differences.


The “R” describes how RELATIONSHIPS fuel our development.


DIR harnesses the key affective (emotional) aspect of these relationships to promote development.


Affective interactions support the desire to engage and ‘be with’ another person. Affect signals to another to initiate opportunities for interactions. This gives rise to a more affective connection. This facilitates spontaneous and intentional affective signaling/cue sending and reading resulting in... CIRCLES OF COMMUNICATION.

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Functional Emotional Developmental Capacities (FEDC)

At BraveBeginnings, we are working within capacity 1 and scaffolding up to capacity 4.


FEDC 1: Self-regulation and Interest in the World


Being able to take in the sights, smells, sounds, and all the other feelings of their world and being interested in another and the world around them. Being able to receive stimulation without becoming disorganized or withdrawing. Being able to regulate with the help of another person or by themselves. Being curious about the environment and exploring with intentionality.


FEDC 2: Engaging and Relating

Involves having a shared sense of bliss/intimacy with caregivers.


  • True communication comes when the individual is part of a shared world.

  • Able to experience caregivers as nurturing and playful. Broadening emotional range -curiosity, protesting/frustration, excitement.

  • Recognizes special caregivers.

  • Provides a sense of purpose for an individual’s actions.


This is more than just sharing the same world; this is about mutual connectedness being experienced in that world.

Individuals begin to develop and coordinate gestures to initiate interactions combined with looks and smiles.


FEDC 3: Intentionality and Two-way Communication

The reciprocity that occurs in communication, the back-and-forth flow.

  • Back and forth emotional signaling or “circles of communication."

  • Essential for human interaction.

  • Differentiate and distinguish between the individual’s sounds from others.

  • Learning social reciprocity -begin to read and respond to social signals.

  • Emotional transformation occurs -broadening the emotional range.

  • Conversation without words.

  • Two-way affective signaling is great for regulation and co-regulation.


FEDC 4: Complex Communication and Shared Problem Solving


  • Highlighted by the ability to stay in a long string of interactions (20+).

  • Complex gestural communication is used to communicate desires, wishes, and intentions.

  • Able to stay engaged and close circles during a wide range of feelings.

  • Emerging skills in ideation. The physical world facilitates exploration and curiosity which creates ideas and then a desire to seek out support

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