Intergenerational-Early Childhood

This stream covers the pivotal transition from young adulthood to parenthood and raising offspring through to the pre-school years. This transition poses a broad range of developmental challenges for parents and offspring. Central to social and emotional development in this period is the establishment of a secure attachment relationship between parents and their children.

An image of parent and child

Research team

James Aloni
Sharyn Bant
Michelle Benstead
Felicity Bigelow
Zoe Bloore
Anna Booth
Susan Chesterman
Sasha Davies
Peter Enticott
Kiira Gavralas
Christopher Greenwood
Emily Irwin
Rebecca Knapp
Juwon Lee
Michelle Macvean
Emma Marshall
Mariel McClure
Ellie Mullins
Craig Olsson
Jessica Opie
Melissa O'Shea
Bengiani Pizzirani
Daniel Romano
Si Yun (Evelyn) Tan

Our aims:

  1. to define developmentally appropriate indicators of emotional growth across early childhood

  2. to link these to developmentally targeted interventions that address risk and promote wellbeing

  3. to support the development of a comprehensive monitoring program through developmentally integrated (Conception to Adulthood) clinical, educational and public health services.

Research Focus Areas

MAC Alliance

Research within this stream is coordinated through The Melbourne Attachment and Caregiving (MAC) Alliance, which is an Australian affiliate of the internationally renowned Mary Ainsworth Child-Parent Attachment Clinic. The MAC Alliance is founded on the Australian Temperament Project Generation 3 Study (see Lifecourse and Surveillance), funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Council. The MAC Alliance has strong community based, clinical and educational programs, and offers the only accredited training in coding of attachment and caregiving behaviour for the Strange Situation Procedure in Australia.

SoAR Lab

The SoAR Lab focuses on understanding the underlying systems that regulate the way that people interact in their relationships. Drawing on some of the major theories in social psychology and personality, our lab studies relationships across the entire span of adulthood (including the transition to young adulthood). Our laboratory aims to gain insight into the processes that govern the functioning of close relationships and their outcomes. Our research targets a wide variety of contexts which currently include important life events, transitions and emerging social issues that can impact on relationships. We aim to bridge the gap between science and practice by making our research accessible to the academic and therapeutic communities as well as the general public.

Early Childhood Emotional Growth Indicators

Perinatal Development Index

The purpose of the Perinatal Development Indicator Project is to identify a definitive set of socio-emotional indicators as they relate to the period spanning pregnancy, child birth and infancy (up to 12 months postpartum). The PDI will be developed within leading Australian longitudinal datasets running through SEED, the Melbourne Children’s Campus, and the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.

Toddler Development Index

The purpose of the Toddler Development Index Project is to test a new set of socio-emotional indicators for monitoring early development (up to 18 months) put together by colleagues from the University of British Columbia. The first community implementation of the TDI in Victorian communities is planned for 2017. Further testing of the TDI within Australian longitudinal dataset will also be undertaken across 2017.

Recommended psychoeducational resources


Web talks



A preschool in a nursing home promotes growth and friendship

This video presents a provocative idea in which core attachment and care needs of both young children and older people are met by integrating child care in aged care (playing time 2:36).

Sensitive - The Untold Story Trailer

"Sensitive--The Untold Story", feat. 7-time Grammy winner Alanis Morissette, is on Examiner's Top 10 Must See Documentaries list and is the first of the series and is based on Dr. Elaine Aron’s findings.

Core Sensitivities: Differential Diagnosis, Object Relations, and the Self

Circle of Security's Bert Powell and Kent Hoffman, along with Angie Dierdorff, Beth Fergin, and Rae Swenson, discuss how Circle of Security's Core Sensitivities training can be useful in clinical applications and in understanding personal relationships.