Brazelton & Touchpoints in the Library Setting

In this class, we have talked a little bit about the Touchpoints model of development. It’s a model that grew out of the healthcare field and is now being applied to many disciplines, including libraries.

I found a variety of videos on YouTube discussing Touchpoints, and one series in particular that is especially relevant. The first is on supporting family strengths, and the second is on supporting parents in specific.


What is especially interesting about Touchpoints as a model is that it intentionally starts with strengths – with positives – with the good things in families we can reinforce.

I think some of the literature talks in a deficit model, where we talk about the lack of something having an impact and the library as a place for people to get built up in the places where they lack. Touchpoints as a strategy starts from the other perspective. It starts by looking at what parents are doing right – what is good and strong about a family.

This is related to a cultural capital narrative in which families are viewed from a position of strength. It’s a model where we would view families from the position of what they do well and how we can partner with families for success. We could observe that some Latino families, for example, may experience lack in some communities, but the strengths that they bring to the table are often in their unique and good, rich, cultural and familial context. So we can talk about lack, or we can talk about strengths, and then we can talk about opportunities – opportunities to overcome the barriers to success that exist in some communities.

In the Touchpoints model, we are looking for the good in parents because we can (and should) assume that parents want to do well by their children. We are looking for the parenting capital, so to speak. We then put ourselves in an advantageous position to look for the ways that we can overcome the barriers to success that some parents are experiencing – in particular, by this model, ways that we can support parents in their children’s unique and yet predictable behavioral cycles.

Let’s look at two videos, and my notes, following.

Supporting Family Strengths

A key portion of this video begins at 5:40: Why do we need Touchpoints in our libraries? 

Reaffirming parents’ expertise. Parents really are the experts on their own children, but our culture has undermined this corporate knowledge.

Letting parents catch a breath. Can coming to the library be an opportunity for parents to let someone else entertain their child for a few minutes? – be it in an active way with storytime or a passive way with a well designed children’s area?

Acknowledging strengths. What qualities do parents of many backgrounds bring to their parenting that we can reinforce, and what needs do they have that we can fill?

Beginning at 13:35: What are some key elements of Touchpoints? 

The developmental aspect. Nonlinear, discontinuous aspects of development are normal. Crises occur in families at points of discontinuity. This is why parents need support!

The relational aspect. Bringing compassion into our interactions with people, re-establishing the “village” that raises children that has been lost with the advent of technology. Being the place where parents can get together to connect with each other!

Supporting Parents

This video is about professionals interacting with parents.

Sometimes we will feel frustrated with how a parent is interacting with a child – it is an opportunity to stop and look for the strengths within a family.

Sometimes parents are emotionally spent and we may be seeing this interaction. Sometimes parents are culturally reticent to show you how they interact with their child.

Sometimes parents are just plain depressed. Poverty is a huge factor in this. You might see this as irritation, anger, exhaustion, unresponsive. Do you think a parent is tuned out? Consider that this could be a factor. Pause, reorient: how do we do the best we can by this family?

Find something they are doing that we can reinforce. Something good we can say. Something good specifically about that parent and that child. This will always be a good platform for interaction, if we can start with something good to say. This creates a connection, it’s meaningful, it defuses a challenging moment.


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