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In instructional praxis, ethical thoughts on human interaction and behavior are crucial. The relationship between the young children and their early childhood educators is uneven. This emphasizes how moral decisions and choices must be made when moral dilemmas emerge (Kennedy, 2008). Early childhood educators must take into account and deal with various points of view; as a result, they cannot come up with a single solution to the ethical conundrum or accurately characterize the circumstances. The majority of the time, instructors choose between options that are mutually exclusive. Examining complex and opposing viewpoints is a necessary step in making decisions. Making a decision necessitates moral consideration and ongoing discussion. As the educator raises awareness and moral judgment, discussion plays a crucial role in problem-solving. This paper will look at an ethical issue that faced by a teacher instructed to make sure the child took all the milk before any other drink.
Joseph turned three last month and is new in my class. Josephs' dad is a responsible father and drops his son every morning after breakfast. He will always remind me to take care of the child and make sure He drinks the milk. The United States Department of Agriculture serves schools with milk at breakfast and lunch hour. Joseph does not like taking the milk just like many other children in her class. As a teacher, I allow children to choose between taking milk or water. Joseph's father and mother do not let his son take anything before he is through with a full cup of milk. I assure the parents that Joseph will have my encouragement to take her milk on time. At the next meal, I always told Joseph that his family required him to take all the milk so as to have a healthy and active body. Joseph did not like these sentiments and would cry uncontrollably. I comfort this young man and allow him to drink some water instead. I told Joseph that I would let his father know that his son took water. Joseph would sob even harder and pleaded with me not to let his father know. It was hard to determine whether the honor the wishes of the father or allow Joseph to continue taking water instead of his father's recommended milk. I needed to utilize the NAEYC Code to act the guideline in thinking through and deciding on this matter.
The situation involved ethics and it was not a responsibility thus leading into a dilemma. There are two possible solutions to a dilemma. The person confronted by the situation chooses between two actions where each resolution can be mystified in moral terms. The issue was to consider Joseph, the three-year-old son whose family requires him to take all the milk before taking any water. The ethical issue arose due to the conflicting requests between the what the teacher view as good practice and what the family members want for their child.
The young children depend on their parent and teachers to support their well-being and promote positive behavior development including eating. According to (Bellows & Anderson 2006) Children, preference and willingness to eat depend on the people around them. Eating behavior in children develops early in life thus affecting their nutrition and health. The eating behavior continues to shape eating patterns and attitude towards food through adulthood. The eating environments that make food fun encourage children to choose and taste the food they want. Therefore, the children develop dietary practices and attitude that shapes their health. However, in Josephs' case, the father force the child to take milk and son perhaps is used to the milk or does not like the taste. He feels safe with the teacher who does not insist on taking milk but allow water and other drinks.
The food fears, eating behavior model, care environment, pressure to eat, food restriction and food celebration are essential food elements. The families, teachers, and caregivers assist children in developing early eating pattern and behavior. Many of the children fear new food and the educators need to create environments that reduce fear to food. The educators make food enjoyable and fun experience early in life. Adults have total control of what the children should eat and at what time. They have the belief that forbidding and restricting unhealthy food intake would decrease children's interest in such foods (Satter, 2008). However, things happen contrary to expectations of parents.
Food pressures, on the other hand, have negative influences towards food intake in children. The teachers and families pressurize their children to take certain foods during certain mealtimes. Children pressured to take some foods grow fewer interests but more fussiness towards those foods. The coercion by Joseph's father to take a specific amount of milk meant that Joseph took more milk after the meal and disliked the targeted milk over time.
The NAEC spells out clearly the ethical responsibility on how early childhood educators and caregivers are required to and not to do. The childhood educators are however tempted not to follow the guidelines but act in self-interest and please other. The teachers encounter situations that requiring ethical responsibilities and observing the NAEYC guidelines. Essential responsibilities are clearly indicated in principle 1.1 of the NAEYC Code.
The Principle P- P-1.1— states that it is not the intention of the teachers and caregivers to cause harm to the children. Early childhood educators do not involve themselves in activities that can harm children, cause emotional damage, physical harm, disrespect, degrade. Also, they do not participate in dangerous, exploitative, or intimidating practices to children (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2001). The principle has precedence over all other ethical code listed in the ethical conduct and statement of commitment documents.
It is not the intention of the teachers and caregivers to cause harm to the children. Early childhood educators do not involve themselves in activities that can harm children, cause emotional damage, physical harm, disrespect, degrade. Also, they do not participate in dangerous, exploitative, or intimidating practices to children. The principle has precedence over all other ethical code listed in the ethical conduct and statement of commitment documents.
I decided to allow Joseph to choose what he wants between the milk and water. I avoided a situation that I could damage or harm Joseph. My responsibility as an education is foster positive developments in children in all behavior types including eating. According to Spranger, Matheson & Saxe (2002), poor role models influence the perception of children towards food and mealtimes. My work is to build child relationship at an individual level. I will use individualized strategies to help Joseph and other children with the same problem thus positive learning environment. It is important also to consult the family members on issues and decisions they make regarding the child. The steps taken will ensure the child has a smooth learning, eating, and playing environment that promotes educational success.
The normal feeding patterns significantly change between individuals children aged between 0-5. Similarly, eating disorders and eating is manifested in a variety of ways. In early months, Joseph may have failed to show dislike for milk for several reasons. Now that Joseph is pre-scholar, the food refusal and excess fussiness to milk and other foods are normal in children. Selective rejection may be on specific food or situation. Poor parenting skills cause the causes of food refusal in Joseph. The situation can be rectified through involving the parents because children upbringing depends on both parents and teachers and other caregivers.
I will tell the parents that something needs to be done on Joseph's refusal to milk. The parents should understand this behavior and advise them to stop pressurizing him to take more milk. The coercion would make Joseph develop a negative attitude towards milk and mealtimes. Milk is not the only drink. Maybe it will be the time they change to another drink that is healthy likable to Joseph. I respect the ethical responsibility as a childhood educator to the families. I respect and acknowledge parents' rights and values in child rearing decisions. However, it is my duty to inform them of the progress and development of the children without fear. I will develop mutual trust with Joseph's family and invite the parents to understand the education program. Both the teachers and parents have an interest in the well-being of the child (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2001). I would communicate and encourage cooperation in enhancing Joseph's physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral development. Ultimately, the parent will be able to improve their skills in supporting the development of the child.
Kennedy, A. (2008). ‘You are welcome’: An ethical approach to child care. Exchange, 30(5), 46 48.
National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2001). Young children: YC ; the journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Washington, DC: Assoc
Matheson, D., K. Spranger, & A. Saxe. (2002). “Preschool Children’s Perceptions of Food and Their Food Experiences.” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 34 (2): 85–92.
Satter, E. 2008. Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family. Madison, WI: Kelcy Press.
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