Emotional availability of mothers to children across the developmental period

Lucia Ciciolla, Keith Crnic, Laura Flamini, David Morrison, M. Cynthia Logsdon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Emotional availability has an important central role in establishing the nature of the relationship that emerges between parent and child and the quality of the child's emerging developmental competence. EA can be observed across the lifespan between parents and their children at any age. The role of emotion is the most critical aspect of EA, and its appropriate expression and reception forms the central basis for emotional availability between parents and children. Emotional availability (EA) is defined by four key parental attributes: sensitivity, structure, non-intrusiveness, non-hostility. In keeping with the relational focus of EA, child responsiveness and child involvement are also critical to the full assessment of the EA construct. EA is understood as operative across both stressful conditions and low-stress play situations between children and caregivers and it addresses parenting behaviors that extend beyond sensitivity. In this regard EA addresses a broader developmental framework than does attachment-based theories. Optimal emotional availability does not imply either constant vigilance or responsiveness by either member of the dyad but rather must also allow for developmentally appropriate autonomy and individuation. EA behaviors vary by culture, and this point should be considered in measurement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMaternal Sensitivity
Subtitle of host publicationA Scientific Foundation for Practice
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9781611227284
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • General Social Sciences


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