One of the core ideas of ethics in early childhood education is that both a child’s and a family’s interests are essential in children’s development. From this statement, one can induce a fundamental basis for EC’s ethical dilemmas: a child’s wishes do not always match their family’s interests. The same is true for a family’s and an EC educator’s points of view. Thus, an ethical dilemma is a situation involving two rights (Feeney & Freeman, 2018). Although some scenarios of dealing with ethical dilemmas are stated in the educator’s instructions and the ethical codes, each case should be considered individually.
Let us consider the classic example of an ethical dilemma presented by the NAEYC. A child wants to take a nap; however, his mother would not want him to because he will be agitated in the evening and will not go to sleep. In this case, there are two conflicting interests and rights: one of a child to take his rest and one of their mothers to be able to rest after work. Although a way of dealing with such a case can center on an immediate response to one of the interests, there also can be a more long-term perspective. The NAEYC Code states that one of the core values is to support the bond between the child and their family (Feeney & Freeman, 2018, p.1). From this perspective, an EC educator might choose the working mother’s side since her rest contributes to her ability to communicate happily with her child and, thus, build a stronger bond with them.
It seems that there are two ways of dealing with ethical dilemmas. First, an EC educator chooses to defend the rights and point of view of one party. For example, they prioritize children’s desires and needs solely. Second, an EC educator works out a way to negotiate between both sides and finds a way to achieve a compromise. They may vary between these two modes of action in different ethical dilemma situations, or one particular way may dominate the other. However, an educator should not center his decisions on their perspective.
Feeney, S., & Freeman, N. K. (2018). Ethics and the early childhood educator: using the NAEYC code (3rd ed.). National Association for the Education of Young Children.