Globally, the child-centred approach to education has influenced practitioners' views of young children as having democratic rights. A key principle of this concept is the belief that each child is unique and can only be compared in relation to their own performance. Here we employ a feminist poststructuralist approach to critique the child-centred discourse which normalises children's behaviour, situating children's different and non-normal behaviour as the other – including children's gendered behaviour. Drawing on data from the first author's ethnography of gender relations in Kopo kindergarten in Bandung Indonesia, we attempt to explore how the concepts of ‘care’ and ‘difference’ were used and negotiated by staff. Findings suggest that a visible surveillance of children is maintained in settings and is used by teachers as a form of social control. Teachers interpret their caring role in ways that perpetuate traditional gendered behaviour. It is concluded that there is a need to expand the notion of care by respecting differences, including gender differences, in children's behaviour.