The Case of the Ethical Dilemma

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In this essay, I am addressing the dilemma found in the scenario of Mayah, a 2.5 years old, who gets extremely agitated and tired after taking her lunch. This happens every day to the child, but the girl’s parents have stated that they do not want her to nap reason being that they get it hard to make the girl sleep at night in case she slept during the day. An educator decides to allow the girl to rest for she needs it, and after parent visits, they start to complain.

Definition of ethical dilemma

According to Allen, (2012), an ethical dilemma is a problem that is involved in deciding between two possible moral imperatives where neither of them is acceptable, unambiguous or the ethical dilemma, obeying to follow one decision would result in disobeying the other. The ethical dilemma contains three main characteristics or conditions that must be present in a particular situation for it to be called an ethical dilemma. The first conditions happen where the agent or an individual has to come up with a decision of the best course of action to take. Secondly, there must be different courses of the activities that an individual is supposed to choose from. Lastly, there is a compromising of the ethical principles in a dilemma no matter the course of action taken (Allen, 2012). The Mayah’s situation is a dilemma because it involves all these characteristics.

In the case of the dilemma that we chose as the group, the main ethical dimensions include the role of the child, staff and the parent. To the parent, this is a dilemma because, he/she has to come up with a decision of whether to follow the healthy requirement of the child to have enough sleep and let her rest during the day (Detrick, 1999). This will, in turn, makes it difficult for the parent to make her sleep at night. The parent also has to decide on whether the child should continue staying awake violating her health requirements so that they can get it easy to make her sleep at night.

To the staff, the Mayah’s case is also a dilemma because the staff ha to consider supporting the parents in their role of bringing up the children hence considering the places they get affected for example in this case, parents may be spending sleepless nights trying to make Mayah sleep. On the other hand, the staff has the responsibility to recognize Mayah’s right to rest during the day.

            Mayah gets herself in a dilemma of either struggling not o sleep during the day to please her parents during the night also leading to problems with the educator or to follow the educator’s instruction and bring challenges to her parents at night.


As a group, we came up with two step resolution to the case involving the dilemma we chose. The first step to the solution on the dilemma was to ensure that the staff would restore their relationship with Maya’s parents. The staffs were supposed to hold a meeting with Maya’s family and offer their apologies for not consulting whether Mayah should sleep during the day whereas her parents had directed to allow her. This was meant to re-establish a good relationship with Maya’s parents which is supported by the National Quality Standards QA6 6.1 (Drysdale, & Jennings, 2014). From these standards, the educator or the staff is supposed to develop and maintain a kind and respectful relationship with the families. The staffs should also use this stage to educate Maya’s parents on the children’s sleep regulatory obligations to them. The second step was to implement a new sleeping routine for Mayah. She staffs are supposed to inquire from the parents the sleeping times for Mayah. Additionally, Maya is supposed to be asked by the staffs whether she is feeling to sleep and if she does not, we concluded that the girl is supposed to be given quite activities on her bed. Additionally, we suggested that in case Maya may want to sleep on her own she should be allowed to sleep for 45 minutes.

The body of this essay will focus on the discussion on the following; ERC stages , and The rationale for the solutions (from the relevant insight from the group discussion, from the phases of ERC, and from the key documents eg UNCRC, ECA code of ethics, the NQS and EYLF, and readings from various modules. The essay will also discuss a brief reflection of the process of working through the ethical dilemma.

ERC stages

Recognition of the dilemma

As a staff, or the educator dealing with the children, one is easily faced by the situations that lead to conflicts or misunderstandings between the behaviors or the needs personal values, their professional and the children’s parents. When it involves making a difficult decision on the situation that includes almost all these parties, it gets to a position that is called an ethical dilemma. To my understanding that I also presented in the group, the staffs in the situation of Mayah are faced with the difficulty in that they get it difficult to decide whether to allow her to sleep during the day or not to let her sleep during the day. Educators or the staffs should understand that the evening periods of families can be profoundly affected by if they tend to ignore or not to consider the instructions received by the parents of children. As a good educator to Mayah, I would make sure that I have honored the Centre practices and policies for the interests of the children and also ensure I carefully listen to her parent’s instructions.

Parents to face various difficult situations concerning their children that eventually leads to the dilemma in their daily lives. For instance Mayah’s parents got themselves in a dilemma where they don’t know whether their child has to sleep during the day making it hard for them to make her sleep at night or to make sure that he does not sleep during the day so that they may get it easy to make her sleep at night. Any decision made by the parents has undesirable repercussions and therefore, they should agree with the teachers to ensure that the child can both sleep during the day and at night without straining the parents. Parents should also ear and understand the laws containing the best interests of the children concerning enough rest and sleep (Goldstein, Freund, & Solnit, 1984).

The dilemma also faces Mayah as a child in this scenarios. Any decision made by her educator or parents directly affects her. She gets tired after taking her lunch and feels to sleep, but the educators have to ensure that she does not sleep to honor her parent’s decisions. If Mayah sleeps during the day as it is the case in this scenario, her parents will get a hard time to make her sleep she has no interest in sleeping for long hours in the night. If I were Maya and permitted to make a decision, I would get into a dilemma because firstly I would not like to offend my parents and secondly I would like my rights as a child to be strictly followed.

Legal aspects

This dilemma has some legal aspects that should be carefully followed both by the parents and the teacher. For the case of Mayah, it is somehow complicated to support the legal issues because she is still young. Australia, (2006) outlines the code of ethics and which states that the teacher has the responsibility to take care of the child. Additionally, the ECA reports that being the legal owner of the child, the teacher should give the parent due respect (Barblett, Hydon & Kennedy, 2008). This leads the teacher to a dilemma wondering which legal aspect they should follow for the case of Mayah.  As it is shown in article 31 of UNCRC, a child is bestowed with the constitutional right to sleep within the current environment she is in (Davey & Lundy, 2011). This puts her parents in a dilemma in that they are left with the decision on whether to allow her sleep during the day or not.  Considering all the legal aspects involved in this dilemma, parents should let children to have enough sleep and also teachers should consider respecting their roles and the parent's decisions. The rationale for this solution is the understanding we got from the EAC moral laws, what is written in the legal aspects of children and what is shown in the UNCRC article 31.

Professional consideration

The various centers of education where the professional reviews have to be considered in the example of the dilemma concerning the case of Mariah faces such situations regularly. Such difficulty faced should be solved by the professionals through coming up with a meeting that can help to educate parents and also update the teachers on the various rights of children concerning sleeping and resting of the children. Additionally, the educators should provide the parents with reflects that contains the expectations of professionals to both the children and their parents to help solve such a dilemma (Taggart, 2011). The rationale on the solution based on the professional consideration came from the resolutions we all agreed on in the group discussion. Additionally, we solved the knowledge we gained from the National Quality Standards and Children National Law, the United Nations Convention on the rights of the children, and finally the ECA code of ethics

Ethical principles

The dilemma on Mayah has many ethical principles. The principle of autonomy is one of the most eminent in this dilemma. Autonomy is enough to make the wise professional judgment (Graham, Powell, & Taylor, 2015). The wise decision here would be to allow Maya to sleep as she gets agitated after lunch time.

Additionally, the ethical principle of responsibility is interfered with in this is irresponsible to prevent child from sleeping (Newman & Pollnitz, 2005). From the group discussion, we came in an agreement that the dilemma is affected by various types of ethical principles either positively or negatively. We resolved that the law of autonomy is quite essential here for the professionals can make a wise decision to let the Mayah sleep. We agreed on this resolution from a common understanding we came up with and also from the guidelines based on the Early Childhood Australia and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Ethical theories

The theory that is most relevant for the dilemma in the case of Mayah depends on the role someone the dilemma from. On the dimension of the child, the care based theory should be adopted (Lansdown, 2005). Considering the parental understanding, the pragmatic theory would work the best. We agreed as a parent; one would agree that it is more of utilitarian to deny Mariah sleep during the day to make her sleep at night. Considering the role of an educator, employing the approach of consequentialist we can come up with a solution that does no lead to any harm to Mayah and her parents. The rationale for this solution was based on the need we developed to understand the kind of approaches for each role. Also, we found it from the understanding that parents would consider following their decisions as they think they are the best and additionally from the need of supporting the ethical laws for children.


It is only through proper negotiation that will help in solving the dilemma. The educator or the staff should schedule a meeting with Mayah’s parents concerning the time Maya should sleep. According to the ethics laws of children, Mayah should rest in case she gets tired and feels to sleep. Mayah should be involved in deciding on when she should sleep. As a group discussion, we agreed on the need to give Mayah some minutes to sleep to avoid her parents getting it hard to make her sleep at night. The whole day tiresome will make a child sleep early at night (Tenbrunsel & Messick, 2004). The reason for taking into consideration this resolution was as a result of the knowledge we acquired on the respect the educators should show to the parents.

A brief reflection of the process of working through the ethical dilemma.

Working on the process of ethical dilemma has brought forth the understanding of the ethical best interest for the children concerning their rights to sleep (Shapiro & Stefkovich, 2016). It has additionally brought to know the solution to be undertaken by the educators to solve the dilemma. As the parents consider their reasons for denying children to sleep during the day, they should also ensure that they follow the ethical rights that allow children to relax when they get tired (LaRossa & Bennett, 2018).


Dilemma presents a problematic situation that someone is supposed to choose from. Any chosen case leads to repercussion. When presented in a dilemma that involves various roles like the parent’s child and the educators concerning the sleeping of the child, the educator should honor the ethical laws of the children at the same time acknowledging the decisions made by the parents. This would bring into a dilemma, but negotiation through meeting the parents would lead to dilemma solution.


Australia, E. C. (2006). ECA code of ethics.

Allen, K. (2012). What is an ethical dilemma? The New Social Worker, 19(2), 4-5.

Barblett, L., Hydon, C., & Kennedy, A. (2008). The Code of Ethics: A guide for everyday practice. Watson, Australian Capital Territory: Early Childhood Australia.

Detrick, S. (1999). A Commentary on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

Drysdale, R., & Jennings, M. (2014). Policy Reviewed by Review Date Next Review Due. Policy.

Davey, C., & Lundy, L. (2011). Towards greater recognition of the right to play: An analysis of Article 31 of the UNCRC. Children & Society, 25(1), 3-14.

Goldstein, J., Freund, A., & Solnit, A. J. (1984). Beyond the best interests of the child (Vol. 1). Simon and Schuster.

Graham, A., Powell, M. A., & Taylor, N. (2015). Ethical research involving children: Encouraging reflexive engagement in research with children and young people. Children & Society, 29(5), 331-343.

LaRossa, R., & Bennett, L. A. (2018). Ethical dilemmas in qualitative family research. In The psychosocial interior of the family (pp. 139-156). Routledge.

Lansdown, G. (2005). Can you hear me? The right of young children to participate in the decisions affecting them. The Netherlands: Bernard Van Leer Foundation.

Newman, L. & Pollnitz, L. (2005) Understanding ethics. In working with children and families: professional, legal and ethical issues.

Shapiro, J. P., & Stefkovich, J. A. (2016). Ethical leadership and decision making in education: Applying theoretical perspectives to complex dilemmas. Routledge.

Taggart, G. (2011). Don’t we care?: The ethics and emotional labour of early years professionalism. Early Years, 31(1), 85-95.

Tenbrunsel, A.E. and Messick, D.M., (2004). Ethical fading: The role of self-deception in unethical behavior. Social justice research, 17(2), pp.223-236.

August 14, 2023


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Ethical Dilemma Ethics

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