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Child development expert shares ways to talk to kids about racism

A child development expert shared some advice for parents left wondering when to start talking to their kids about racism. 

There are protests happening throughout the world calling for justice and the end to systemic racism and police brutality.

FOX 11's Vanessa Borge spoke with a child psychologist on how to help parents tackle those big topics during those necessary conversations with their kids. 

"We have to assume our children know what's going on," child developmental expert, Denise Daniels said. "You need to talk to them about injustice because they understand that ."

Talking to them at an early age about racism is one step in eradicating it.

"Children are not born racist. It's learned behavior and they learn from their role models...us!"

But when should you start that conversation? At what age? You might be surprised.

Research by The U.S. National Library of Medicine concluded that even newborns as young as 3-months-old look more at faces that match the race of their caregivers. 

In addition, according to the American Psychological Association, by 30 months, most children use race to choose playmates.

That's why Daniels says that's about the time you need to begin to have conversations about race and expose them to other cultures. 

"For preschoolers, the best way is to use literacy. Pick up a book on it. If you are a white family, be sure you are exposing that to your kids. Children need to learn about other cultures so they are accepting so they don't discriminate," she added. 

Common Sense Media, a non-profit that rates movies, TV shows, books, and apps curated a list of books with diverse, multi-cultural characters for kids.

You can also research TheBrownBookshelf.com. The website lists books that have, brown and black protagonists.

When you start having conversations about racism with your child, she said it's important to first find out what they know. 

"Really probe and ask them questions and get them to talk to you about it. Make it casual. I'm a big proponent of family meetings," she said. 

Because they will experience it first hand, how do black parents speak to their children about racism? 

"Giving them age-appropriate information again. And then talk to them about what you as an adult have experienced. Kids need to understand that," she explained. 

Daniels says for all families, it's about setting the example and listening.

"What are kids seeing in their home? What kind of language? What kind of viewpoints are they hearing?" 

As for teenagers, she recommends asking them about what they've seen online about the violence and protests, what they think, and what was upsetting or inspiring. She says it is never too late to start these conversations. 

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