Emotional Availability (EA) in mother-child and father-child interactions: development in an international context

C. McMahon, C. E. Speck-Martins, H. van Bakel, S. Salo

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review

    Abstract

    The thematic content of this Poster Workshop is emotional availability (EA) in mother-child and father-child interactions. EA refers
    to 4 caregiver qualities (sensitivity, structuring, nonintrusiveness, and nonhostility) and 2 child qualities (responsiveness to the adult
    and involvement of the adult) and is assessed with the observational EA Scales (Biringen et al., 1998; Biringen, 2008). Although
    framed as adult and child qualities, each of the EA dimensions is actually dyadic, and it is the relationship that is assessed. The 4
    posters from an international authorship, comprised of Australian, Dutch, Finnish, Portuguese, US, and UK contributors, highlight the
    role of EA in predicting significant aspects of infant and parent development from infancy through the preschool years. Two of the
    posters focus on the role of fathers, both in connection with mothers in the family context, as well as separate agents of emotion
    socialization. The first paper on fathers, from Portugal, examines the association between infant emotion regulation and father-child
    emotional availability, as well as the role of infant temperament. The second paper, from the Netherlands, examines whether fathers
    can moderate the effects of maternal emotional complaints on child outcomes, with an examination of the gender of the infant. The
    additional 2 posters from Finland/US and from Australia/UK focus on mother-child EA and how EA is associated with important
    aspects of child development (e.g., not only social/emotional competence but also cognitive and language competence), as well as
    parent characteristics (including stress and the parent's proclivity to represent the child as a separate individual whose behavior is
    meaningful and purposeful — "mind-mindedness"). Rather than sole reliance on the concept of parental sensitivity, many of the
    papers emphasize the multi-dimensional EA framework (including the "negative" EA qualities, such as nonintrusiveness and
    nonhostility) and also the child's side of emotional availability. Three of the papers use the 3rd edition of the EA Scales, whereas the
    paper from Finland extends the use of the EA system and will describe findings with the 4th edition (including 7 sub-scales for each of
    the 6 EA dimensions). These studies, all conducted in the context of low-risk mother-child and father-child interactions, confirm the
    value of examining the richness and complexity of parent-child emotional availability/unavailability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberPW22
    Pages (from-to)73-73
    Number of pages1
    JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
    Volume31
    Issue number3 supplement
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    Event12th world congress of World Association for Infant Mental Health: 12th world congress WAIMH - Leipzig, Germany
    Duration: 30 Jun 20103 Jul 2010

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