smiling young girl with colorful braids

The Benefits of Understanding Touchpoints – A Theory of Child Development by T. Berry Brazelton

Touchpoints is an evidence-based theory of child development that refers to periods in a child’s life where he or she starts doing something new after an old and predictable behavior stops, i.e., a child starts to walk shortly after he or she stops sleeping through the night.  This theory is based on more than sixty years of ground-breaking research by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton and his colleagues at Children’s Hospital in Boston and in communities around the world.  When parents understand their child’s development and Touchpoints, they are better prepared for predictable back slides in behavior and can look forward to exciting new steps to come.

Touchpoints is a method for strengthening parent-child relationships, continuing through the early childhood years.  Raising an infant is challenging and for new parents, it can be a time of great anxiety and emotions.  Understanding the regressions that may accompany their child’s developmental spurts can ease stress.

Another advantage to understanding Touchpoints is that it provides parents and caregivers with the opportunity to carefully watch and help each other understand a child’s behaviors, strengths, and growing capacities.  This is a helpful communication tool for child care providers and parents who are seeing the same child at different times of the day.  It provides the adults in a child’s life a common language of child behavior and development that enables families and providers to work together and professionals to collaborate for the best interest of the child. Touchpoints has the ability to reconnect families with their communities in ways that build hope and reduce stress.

Not only does Touchpoints involve a valuable component of cultural competencies, its Guiding Principles and Parent Assumptions provide an approach to understanding children that can be valuable to pediatricians, nurses, early educators, home visitors, and other professionals to support parents.  Touchpoints is an adaptable, culturally-sensitive way of working that engages a community’s heritage, assets, and self-strengthening capacities on behalf of its young children.

By learning more about Touchpoints and incorporating strategies into their own lives, parents are giving their children the powerful opportunity to become successful early learners.  This theory also empowers parents to be confident caregivers who use their innate wisdom to do what’s best for their child.  When given the tools to be more effective caregivers, parents are better equipped to meet the health, emotional and learning needs of their children.

For more information on Dr. Brazelton’s theory on child development and tips on how to better integrate Touchpoints into everyday parenting, visit: www.brazeltontouchpoints.org.

How does understanding Brazelton’s Touchpoints theory better help you relate to and understand your child?

Amy Bontempo is the Manager of Family and Community Engagement at Penfield Children’s Center.  She supervises the Community Outreach Educator, Volunteer Coordinator, Parent Mentor Program, and Family Programs of which Penfield host over 60 per year.  She has served on the Board of Directors for the Down Syndrome Association (DSAW) of Wisconsin since 2011 and previously served on the Volunteer Respite Committee for Children’s Service Society now part of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services, and the Family Resource Connection of Milwaukee Co.

Brazelton, Berry T., MD. Touchpoints The Essential Reference, 1992.

Touchpoints in the First Year, Brazelton Touchpoints Center, 2001

Brazelton, Berry T., MD. Touchpoints Birth-to-3

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