Toddlers and Colors

Updated on December 06, 2014
S.S. asks from Fredericktown, MO
17 answers

My son is 3 years old. He will be 4 in March. He seems to have trouble recognizing, remembering colors. He is able to identify black and white. Other colors though, its iffy. Sometimes he identifies the colors correctly, and other times not even close. I worry and wonder how I can help him to correctly identify his colors. How old were other children when they began to be able to correctly identify colors? He does a wonderul job identifying is upper case letter and is still learning to identify numbers. He is pretty smart, and even so, I know each and every child learns differently and at their own pace.

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answers from Boston on

LOL my oldest son (now 16) and I were just discussing today that I thought he was colorblind and had him tested by his pediatrician when he was 4. He wasn't colorblind, just didn't know his colors yet. I used to line up his little cars, pick a red one, say "this is red, can you show me another red car" and he'd grab some other color.

I don't recall it being an issue once he was in Kindergarten so it worked itself out by whatever age he was expected to know colors.

Really and truly, don't worry about this. He'll pick it up in due time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I wouldn't worry yet. If he gets to be 4 or 5 and can't identify primary colors, consider having him tested for color blindness. My friend's son is terribly color blind, poor kid, so he never knew that green was different than brown and thought trees were all one color. I would just keep exposing him to things, even in a funny way. "I have two socks, a red sock and a blue sock. Which foot should be red?"

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answers from Reading on

It's quite possible he is color blind. I would consult your pediatrician or eye doctor.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

He is only 3, no need to push, it will come on its own time. Also, he may be partially color blind, my son had issues with certain colors and we found out from his school nurse that he is red/green colorblind. I was not surprised because my father and my husband are both red/green color blind as well and it runs in families and is much more common in men then woman.

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answers from Grand Rapids on

Start playing Candyland or puzzles with different shapes and colors, flashcards with shapes and colors. Color together and while coloring talk about what color you are coloring vs. what his color is. I remember in regular conversation with my son, Kiddo do you want to wear the red shirt or blue shirt. Let's wear the blue socks today. Run to the red slide. Make it fun, not always a chore. With his next check up, I would mention if he hasn't made any progress.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Have you seen an eye doctor to rule out color blindness? It's more common than you might suspect.

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answers from Dallas on

I think there's a range of how long it takes for kids to "get" colors, so he may be totally fine in how quickly he's learning. Here's an article -

It has some games to play, and you can also include the colors when you're pointing things out to him.

If you notice a pattern of certain colors that he just doesn't get, you may want to figure out if there are any color-blind men in his family, and look into that if he still has trouble.

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answers from Washington DC on

I agree that he can be checked for color blindness but...please be aware that for many young kids, learning and repeating back colors is just not very meaningful. Sometimes a kid just doesn't see the point and is frankly bored by "What color is this apple?" especially if they hear it frequently, and they don't know that there's any point at all in listing colors. Same thing can happen at this age with letter recognition or number recognition -- and it's hard for a parent to tell whether the kid really has a learning issue or just does not care about naming those colors or shapes or letters.

I would stop doing much color quizzing with him, even if you're mostly pointing at things and saying, "What color is that truck?" He may be done with that and it's why he sometimes gets it wrong - he knows but doesn't care. I'd just stop doing it for a while.

Is he in a preschool yet? It's fine if he's not, right now, but I do think at least a year of a solid preschool before kindergarten is the way to go, for many reasons. One of those reasons is that he'll get more structured work on colors and numbers and letters, and also that he might care more about doing that when he's in a class of other kids who are all doing it -- when he's home alone with you there are so many other more interesting things around, but in a class setting he might be more motivated to do as others do and to please his teacher. Plus a teacher can tell faster than most parents whether a kid truly has an issue that needs investigation or whether a kid is just not that into colors....

I've known kids his age who were whizzes at one thing (could read some words, knew letters terrifically, were into trying to read, for instance) and who could not care less about another thing (like naming colors). Or who knew their numbers but didn't give a toss about letters. Or who just wanted to play and be more physical.....So don't let it worry you yet. I do suggest you look now into a good preschool for his year before he starts kindergarten, not just for learning, because preschool should be play-based, but also so he will get used to a classroom setting and get used to following directions from an adult who is not mom, dad or a caregiver. That is the single biggest thing preschool can give any kid before he or she starts K.



answers from Atlanta on

Just leave it be and see how things progress. Tell stories about the rainbow fairies and such.

The most important things at this age is a happy, orderly, loving life, lots of singing of the same songs each day, lots of verses to say and having fun with song and words. Lots of letting him just play and being with you while you go through your daily chores. Keep it simple and pure. He does not need these things at this time and they do not produce intelligence what does is singing, etc. -- the things mentioned above.

Look into attachement parenting and or waldorf education. How about the book, Over the Rainbow Bridge or You are Your Child's First Teacher to get you started.



answers from Asheville on

My daughter just turned 4 a couple of months ago, and she has known her colors for a while now. We have a colors poster in her room and would go over it at night before bed.
I second the color blindness possibility. It might be worth mentioning to your pediatrician with this next checkup.



answers from New York on

Mine could recognize and point to things by color at two. He would speak and use them himself before three. By three he knew his colors, letters, and numbers. We are now working on telling time.

F. B.



answers from Oklahoma City on

In the next year he should develop this skill. If he starts Pre-K in the fall he'll be exposed to educational material every day and he'll learn a lot more all at once.



answers from Los Angeles on

As Patricia mentioned, you should definitely make sure he's not color blind and that he has no other medical reasons for not knowing his colors.

Also, try getting him this toy: Someone got my daughter this toy when she was around a year old (for development of fine motor skills, not necessarily to teach her colors). I'm not sure if it was the toy or not, but she learned her colors by the time she was about 20 months old.



answers from St. Louis on

My son, who is now 14, had the same issues as a toddler and still does today. My Dad was red/green color blind, so I had concerns that my son was color blind as it is hereditary. I asked his kindergarten teacher if she noticed him having issues with his colors, and she said, no, but he really did -- a Mom knows. As he got older and was able to take the color blindness tests at the eye doctor (and there are some on line as well), they showed that he is definitely color blind -- he fails every one of the color blindness tests. That said, however, he does see colors, just not sure exactly what. He cannot tell the difference in many of the colors. He especially has difficulties, with reds, greens, blues, purples and browns. They look the same to him. So if he went to color the American flag, unless he had something that told him what color he was using, he would might use purple instead of blue as they look the same to him. For most of the color blindness tests, your child will need to be able to recognize his numbers very well, which is why he needs to usually be a little older. FYI, color blindness (of some kind) is very common in boys. I believe it is somewhere around 10% of boys/men. It is not as common in girls.


answers from Columbia on

When my boys were little, I drew and colored pictures and taped them up all over their room. A red apple, orange, yellow banana, green tree, blue balloon, purple grapes.... you get the idea. Every night as part of our routine, I would point at each picture and ask which color it was. I corrected them if they were wrong. Then, I would ask them random colors and they would point at the picture with that color. Again, I'd correct them if they were wrong. It didn't take long for them to figure out and remember all their colors. We used a MagnaDoodle to learn shapes, numbers and letters. 3-5 new letters or numbers per week until they knew them all.

If practice and rote memorization doesn't work out, I'd certainly get his eyes checked out. Best of luck to you!


answers from Grand Forks on

My older son learned his colours last. He knew his numbers and letters long before he knew colours. Colours can be very subjective.



answers from Kansas City on

We had our son checked for color blindness at age 3. He could recognize all of his letters & numbers, but struggled with colors. Anyways, he's not color blind. The doctor told us that colorblindness comes from the maternal grandfather. He asked if my dad was colorblind (he's not). He said if my dad isn't colorblind, my kids most likely won't be colorblind.

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