Ethics of care for toddlers is primarily about respecting the child and their cultural values. We should engage with the child and be responsive and reciprocal in our relationships with them.
Treating the child with respect means acknowledging they have a right to information given in an appropriate way and a right to autonomy, as well as consistent loving care. Respect is demonstrated in our behaviours.
It is important that toddlers are given time to try to complete a task before educators start to help or intervene. Toddlers are learning newly acquired skills therefore mastery only comes with repeated opportunities for practice. We should give toddlers warnings for example “you have five minutes more with the blocks then we have to pack away for lunch”, rather than just tidying the blocks away without consultation first.
The RIE philosophy is based on respecting infants as if they are fully functioning, learning their individual ways of communicating, being honest with infants, and allowing infants to try to solve a problem without adult interference. The RIE philosophy tells us to prepare ahead for example having the nappy ready to change the child; we should communicate with the child letting them know what we are going to do.
Toddlers should also experience an environment which is safe, calm and stable and that is encouraging and inviting.
Children, especially toddlers, need to be provided choices to help them feel in control of their environment. When the toddler makes an independent choice we are sending the message that he/she has worthy ideas. Toddlers often hear the word ‘no’ therefore it is difficult for them to feel in control of their lives, but this is the time that a child needs to develop a sense of autonomy and that he is an independent and competent individual in his own right.
Toddlers are trying to find their place in the world therefore respect is paramount in allowing them to develop and feel valued and important individuals. For a child to have a sense of wellbeing and belonging they need to feel attached and be respected. As educators it is our job to empower toddlers to reach their full potential.
By Carolyn Atkinson Bachelor of Teaching ECE