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How to talk to your children about race

Steph Coleman

Written by Steph Coleman

7 min read

Toddlers of different races playing outdoors near a tree

At EasyPeasy we think everyday life is the perfect 'school' for young children, and we explore ideas and games to bring into ordinary routines, which also help your children learn and grow. 

Talking about race can be sensitive, and tricky for parents to know how to handle. We’ve gathered together research and resources you can turn to when starting out which are easily woven through daily life.

Everyone is affected in some shape or form

Systemic racism affects everyone, regardless of colour. And whatever the race or ethnicity of children, children may inevitably learn about it by confronting racism in their everyday lives.

For so many parents of colour, whether or not to talk to kids about race is non-optional - their children will find out anyway.

Regardless of how the conversation begins in your family, adults should send a positive signal to their child that it’s okay, and important to talk about race, diversity and equality.

Why starting early makes the biggest difference

Toddlers standing inside a play pen

The early years, between ages 0-5. are the formative years. Little children begin filling information gaps themselves, and where things are unsaid, they make their own (often inaccurate) conclusions.

Fascinating studies have shown that at only six months of age, babies notice racial differences. By age four, pre-school children have begun to show signs of racial bias and preferences. By the age of five, 90% of the brain is formed. This is why it is so important to start early.

How to start talking to little children: 7 resources

Children of different races holding hands outdoors

1. Get the conversation started

The National Geographic have published a great article with expert advice, and guidance on raising an anti-racist child. This piece addresses how to talk about race based events and the emotions they spark, helping children to recognise hurtful racist ideas, and how to introduce more diversity into your child’s day-to-day life.

2. 60+ Resources for Talking to Kids About Racism

The team at Bounce Back Parenting have listened to their community and the request for more resource suggestions to help parents approach the topic of race with their children.

This article is an excellent one-stop-shop for book suggestions, music and videos to assist parents in their ongoing discussions and conversations.

3. @Diversifytheirworld - Instagram page 

This wonderful Instagram channel, and accompanying website, is perfect for parents who want ideas and resources for children that add diversity and encourage inclusion. Introducing diversity, conversations about race and equality can be done via learning through play, reading and activities.   Check out their website for more information.

Parents educating their children about race and equality

4. Woman’s Hour Podcasts

If, like many parents, you’re juggling 20 things all at once, including a full time job and caring for little ones during lockdown, then a podcast might be for you. Whether you plug in at your desk, listen on the car radio, or whilst you make dinner, it’s worth the time.

Women's Hour on BBC has some great podcasts, particularly "Parenting: Talking to Your Kids About Race and Racism" and "Talking to kids about the US protests".

5. When will my child become aware of race?

Children at their pre-school nursery sitting down to play with a colourful foam jigsaw puzzle

Our friends at Baby Centre have addressed how parents of pre-school children can benefit from talking to their little ones early in their development. 

"It helps to talk to your child about racial diversity. Research shows that talking to your child about race early on can help to reduce the chances of them becoming racially biased in later life.”

6. @Diverse_kids_books - Instagram page

Let’s raise educated, inclusive and kind children through the power of books! This is the mission shared by the wonderful mum and EYFS teacher behind this hugely popular account.

Parents can find a huge selection of book suggestions, which have been carefully broken down by ages, so you can immediately find something suitable for your child.

Mother and her baby laughing and laying on the grass outdoors

7. Ten tips for teaching and talking to kids about race

EmbraceRace is a multiracial community dedicated to sharing and developing best practices for raising and caring for kids, all kids, in the context of race. They share 10 helpful tips designed to help parents of all backgrounds talk to and guide their children about race early. We like the age-appropriate activities they suggest which can easily be incorporated into daily  life.

Toddlers back at their nursery playing with their friends and teacher

Developing empathy, and a sense of justice at an early age, helps children flourish into adults who want to make the world a better place. Diverse viewpoints, people and stories are essential to develop life skills which which make for kinder adults and more expansive lives.

Need some further inspiration? We've got great news! 🎉

The new EasyPeasy parenting app is here! It’s designed to give you play ideas, parenting hacks and new games to share with your family every day.

We've got tons of activities and  ideas to help you in meltdown moments or tricks to bring the play into brushing teeth, getting dressed and more. Head over to the App Store and get downloading!

Download on the App StoreEasyPeasy App for parents on an iPhone with EasyPeasy graphics behind the phone