We can work on Focussing on the family as a unit

In this discussion, we focus on T. Berry Brazelton, who was, until his death in 2018 at the age of 99, a towering figure in pediatrics and child development whose significant contribution was to our understanding and appreciation of newborns. In 1973, he developed the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), which is still widely used today. As stated on the website of the Brazelton Institute of the Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Brazelton “…was a leading force behind the pediatric healthcare revolution that opened doors to parents and empowered them to become active participants in their children’s care.” (2022)To prepare for this discussion, watch the two videos below. In the first video, Dr. Brazelton demonstrated Neonatal Assessment. The second video is an interview with Dr. Brazeton from 2017 when he shares children’s basic needs. For your initial response:

Discuss one thing from each of the videos that support the concept that we need to focus on the family as a unit instead of focusing on the child in isolation.
Describe a new concept to you and tell how you might be able to share that information or utilize it in your work with children.

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Sample Answer

Family as a Unit and New Concepts from Dr. Brazelton


  1. Neonatal Assessment:

    • Family as a Unit: The video emphasizes the importance of the parents’ presence and interaction during the assessment. Dr. Brazelton actively engages the parents, explaining his observations and encouraging their participation. This underscores the crucial role parents play in their child’s development and the need to involve them in the assessment process.
  2. Interview with Dr. Brazelton:

    • Family as a Unit: Dr. Brazelton emphasizes that children are not isolated individuals but are deeply connected to their family systems. He highlights the need for support systems and nurturing environments for optimal child development. This reinforces the concept that focusing solely on the child in isolation is insufficient; we need to consider the family context and address their needs as well.

Full Answer Section

New Concepts:

  1. State regulation: Dr. Brazelton’s description of newborn states (alert, drowsy, sleeping) and the importance of recognizing these states for effective interaction was a new concept for me. This information helps me understand infants’ cues and respond to their needs more effectively.

  2. Reciprocity in parent-child interactions: Dr. Brazelton emphasizes the importance of mutual responsiveness between parent and child. This concept highlights the dynamic nature of parent-child relationships and the need for both parties to be attuned to each other’s cues.

Utilizing New Concepts:

  1. State regulation: I can use my knowledge of infant states to help parents understand their child’s cues and respond appropriately. By observing an infant’s state, I can guide parents on how to interact with them in a way that promotes positive engagement and avoids overwhelming the child.

  2. Reciprocity in parent-child interactions: I can share information about the importance of reciprocal interactions with parents. By helping parents understand the importance of responding to their child’s cues and being attuned to their needs, I can promote the development of secure and nurturing parent-child relationships.


Dr. Brazelton’s work underscores the importance of focusing on the child within the context of their family. His emphasis on parental involvement, family systems, and the reciprocal nature of parent-child interactions provides valuable insights for improving child development outcomes. By incorporating these new concepts into my work, I can better support children and their families.

I would be interested in discussing the following questions further:

  • How can we effectively engage parents in the assessment and care of their children?
  • What are some specific strategies we can use to support families in promoting their child’s development?
  • What are the challenges we face in implementing family-centered approaches in child care settings?

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