25 - 27 Months

Research shows that your two-year-old may already be noticing race

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As parents, many of us wonder whether to talk to young children about race and racism. Some parents do it from day one, some wait, and many struggle with how to tackle such a complex topic with babies and little children just beginning to understand the world. How do we start working towards anti-bias and anti-racism so early? Is it appropriate to do so?

Although there are many approaches to this type of education, one clear consensus emerges from experts: it’s never too early to start. Babies begin to absorb information about race at surprisingly young ages. Young children also notice more than we often think, and in this moment we’re in, much filters down to them. The line between protecting and informing our children is blurry, and we may have to act against our protective instincts, and perhaps our fears, to begin this important parental work.

For those who have not yet begun this work and these conversations, it can be overwhelming to know *how* to do something, how to say something. Specific guidance on words to use, books to read, ways to answer tough questions our children ask, what to show our children and what to protect them from, can be useful. So is hearing from multiple perspectives and taking in lots of different stories. 

Below are some resources on how to approach these conversations. For those of us with babies and toddlers, many of the actions we can take are simple by necessity: seek out books that center main characters of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and expose our youngest to a wide variety of stories. The earlier we share the rich and varied nature of people with our young children, the more they grow up recognizing that both similarities and differences make us strong—and that there is work to do yet. For older kids who can start to engage, being open about race, racism, prejudice, and inequality is key: our children’s curiosity and lack of filter can feel so uncomfortable. But shutting it down sends the message that these topics are taboo and not to be talked about.

Here are some resources that might be helpful:



Studies & research:


  • The Talk—Race in America, a PBS documentary about the “increasingly necessary conversation taking place in homes and communities across the country between parents of color and their children, especially sons, about how to behave if they are ever stopped by the police.”
  • From NPR’s Life Kit podcast, Talking Race With Young Children also has a wealth of resources and advice on its episode page.

Further reading:

A large list of resources from the Center For Racial Justice In Education.


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Posted in: 25 - 27 Months, Social Emotional, Identity, Empathy, Child Development

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