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Professional Boundaries in Early Childhood Education

Preschool age is the time of the most active cognition of the world that surrounds the child. The kid begins to make discoveries every day and gets acquainted with various objects that are around. Early childhood is characterized by peculiarities of psychophysiological development, and each child has individual characteristics of development. Knowledge of age and individual characteristics, as well as the method of working with children, help the educator to successfully raise them in development and upbringing. Early childhood educators spend up to 40 hours a week with children (Feeney et al., 2020).

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Moreover, they interact with children and families closely for a long period of a child’s life. They know confidential information about the family life, including details of the relationship between family members and a child. Therefore, the boundaries between early childhood educators and the child’s family, that is professional partnership and friendship, can become blurred. The article examines the importance of professional boundaries in early childhood settings.

The boundaries are ethical and moral norms, this is the line beyond which a professional behavior can be considered moral or immoral. The educator’s code of professional ethics defines a set of moral and ethical principles and norms of pedagogical morality. The basis of this code is a set of established rules and requirements that define the boundaries of an educator’s behavior. Professional boundaries in early childhood education is a moral behavior in which a respectful attitude towards the individual is manifested.

They are manifested in self-control, tactful adherence to principles without destructive stubbornness, the business tone in relationships, politeness, and attentiveness to others (Feeney et al., 2020). They are also manifested in the ability to correctly and quickly assess the current situation, restrain emotions, and not lose self-control in a critical situation. Professional boundaries regulate the educators’ behavior and strengthen their authority.

The authors distinguish three zones of the educator’s behavior: under-involvement, helpfulness, and over-involvement. Some wrong actions can be detrimental to the family, child, or teacher-family relationship. For example, under-involved teachers are disinterested and uncaring; they are unable to develop good relationships with the child’s family members. At the same time, over-involvement leads to the border crossing from professionalism to friendship (Feeney et al., 2020). These types of behavior can jeopardize the educator’s ability to remain objective and harm the communication with other children’s families. That is why it is important to be helpful, not over-engaged, and keep the necessary balance in the relationship.

Working with a family is painstaking work, so it is important to take into account the modern approach to it. Both the educator and the parent are adults who have their psychological characteristics, age, individual traits, life experience, and vision of problems. That is why authors provide guidelines for educators to help them understand and maintain proper boundaries in the communication with parents. Educators should establish partnerships but not friendships with the families and join efforts for the development and education of children. They should understand their professional role and its limits and plan how to set boundaries and communicate them to families(Feeney et al., 2020).

It is also important to know the difference between friendliness and friendship and draw the line between personal and professional relationships. Educators also should not show favoritism to any child or any family. Any teacher, especially the one who works in an early childhood setting, must remember that the establishment of a personal relationship is possible only when the professional relationship ends.

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The profession of an early childhood educator is one of the most significant in the life of modern society. The task of a modern teacher is to educate a creative personality, develop independence, and initiative, and create conditions for the realization of the individual abilities of each child. The necessary qualities of educators are patience and goodwill since they work not only with children but also with their parents. When dealing with parents, they should not cross the line between professional communication and friendship. The teachers should be attentive to the questions and wishes of all parents, and be polite and patient with them.

They must assimilate the ideas and values of morality and strive to translate them into practice. Of course, early childhood educators, even the best ones, are living people who can make mistakes, but they should try to comply with the norms and standards of professional behavior.

Professional boundaries should be an important issue in the field of early childhood education. An educator, being a motivator and teacher of new generations of people, bears a great moral responsibility to society. Therefore, it is important to constantly increase the general cultural level and ethical competence, as the most significant component of success in the pedagogical activity. Professional pedagogical ethics is not an absolute truth in regulating human behavior.

Each new generation complements and improves the norms of behavior in society, but new approaches must be based on experience and the moral baggage of knowledge created by other generations and tested by time. Today, in the age of advancing technological progress, cultural development should not lag. People should understand that ethical knowledge is necessary for peaceful coexistence and harmonization of the stability of society.


Feeney, S., Freeman, N. K., & Moravcik, E. (2020). Focus on ethics. Professional boundaries in early childhood education. NAEYC, Young Children, 75(5). Web.

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