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Talking To Children About The Concept of Privilege

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In our modern, diverse world, discussing privilege is crucial, especially with children. While explaining privilege to kids may be challenging, it's vital for nurturing empathy and social consciousness. This blog will define privilege, offer tips for sensitive conversations, and provide resources for age-appropriate discussions. By engaging children in meaningful dialogue, we aim to enhance their awareness of social issues and empower them to advocate for positive change in their communities.


Introduction To Privilege

Have you ever wondered how to explain privilege to children in a way that they can easily understand? Privilege is a concept that can be difficult to grasp, even for adults. However, it is crucial to start conversations about privilege at a young age to promote empathy and understanding. Simply put, privilege refers to the advantages and benefits that certain groups of people have over others, often based on factors such as race, gender, or socioeconomic status.


One way to help children understand privilege is by using relatable examples from their own lives. For instance, you could ask them to think about a time when they received special treatment or opportunities that others did not. By drawing parallels between their own experiences and the larger concept of privilege, children can begin to develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.


Various Forms of Privilege


Various Forms of Privilege

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There exist diverse types of privilege that intersect in intricate ways.

Racial Privilege:  Racial privilege is a widely discussed form of advantage, stemming from systemic racism and discrimination. For instance, in Western societies, white individuals often encounter easier access to education, employment, housing, and healthcare compared to people of color. They also benefit from greater representation in media and politics and face fewer negative stereotypes and biases.

Check out: Talk to Kids About Race: A Comprehensive Parent's Guide

Gender Privilege: Gender privilege denotes the advantages bestowed upon men in patriarchal societies. Historically, men have occupied positions of power in politics, business, and education, leading to gender-based discrimination such as unequal pay, underrepresentation, and sexual harassment.

Economic Privilege: Economic privilege arises from one's socioeconomic status. Individuals from affluent backgrounds or high-paying professions typically enjoy more opportunities and resources than those from low-income households. This includes access to quality education, healthcare, cultural activities, and enhanced social mobility and financial stability.


Instances of Privilege in Society

Privilege manifests in various facets of society. For instance, studies reveal that individuals with names perceived as "white" are more likely to secure employment, highlighting racial privilege. Moreover, men predominantly occupy leadership roles in businesses and politics, indicating gender privilege. Economically privileged individuals often access superior healthcare and education, while low-income counterparts face challenges like food insecurity and homelessness.


Understanding privilege is crucial, particularly for children, as it fosters empathy and awareness of social status disparities. By educating children about privilege, they can develop a sense of social justice and advocate for marginalized communities.


Why is it Important to Talk About Privilege?

Talking to children about privilege is an important step towards raising aware and socially conscious individuals. By educating children about privilege, we can help them recognize inequality and injustice in society and empower them to take action to create positive change. Additionally, discussing privilege with children can help foster empathy and understanding toward others who may not have the same advantages.


It is important to emphasize to children that acknowledging privilege does not mean feeling guilty or ashamed. Instead, it is a tool for understanding and recognizing the ways in which society can be structured unfairly. By having open and honest conversations about privilege, we can help children develop a sense of social responsibility and compassion towards others.


Advantages Of Explaining Privilege To Kids

Engaging children in conversations about privilege can yield various advantages, such as:

Cultivating empathy: Conversations about privilege can nurture empathy in children, fostering understanding and compassion towards individuals with diverse life experiences.

Advocating for social justice: Addressing privilege empowers children to identify and challenge societal injustices, nurturing resilience and motivating them to contribute to the creation of a fairer and more equitable world.

Stimulating critical thinking: Discussions on privilege encourage children to develop critical thinking skills, enabling them to question societal norms and structures.

Promoting self-reflection: Conversations about privilege prompt children to reflect on their own experiences and identities, fostering awareness of their own privileges and marginalized aspects.


How to Explain Privilege To Kids

When talking to children about privilege, it is important to use language and examples that are age-appropriate and relatable. One effective way to explain privilege is by using everyday situations that children can easily understand. For example, you could use the analogy of a race where some people start closer to the finish line than others, representing the advantages and disadvantages that come with privilege.


Another strategy for explaining privilege to kids is by discussing historical and current events that illustrate the impact of privilege on individuals and communities. By providing concrete examples and highlighting the ways in which privilege can shape people's experiences and opportunities, children can develop a more nuanced understanding of this complex concept.


Tips for Talking to Children About Privilege


Mother Talking to Child About Privilege


When discussing privilege with children, it is important to create a safe and open environment where they feel comfortable asking questions and expressing their thoughts and feelings. Encourage children to share their own experiences and perspectives on privilege, and be sure to listen actively and empathetically.


It can also be helpful to use books, movies, and other media as tools for introducing and exploring the concept of privilege with children. By incorporating diverse perspectives and voices into the conversation, children can gain a more comprehensive understanding of privilege and its impact on individuals and society.


Encouraging Empathy and Action

In addition to talking to children about privilege, it is important to encourage them to take action and make a difference in their communities. One way to foster empathy and a sense of social responsibility is by engaging children in volunteer work and community service projects. By participating in activities that support marginalized groups and promote equality, children can develop a greater understanding of privilege and its implications.


Another way to encourage empathy and action is by teaching children about advocacy and allyship. By empowering children to speak out against injustice and support those who are marginalized or disadvantaged, we can help them in building bridges and become active agents of change in their own lives and in the world around them.


Embracing Diversity and Inclusion

When discussing privilege with children, it is important to emphasize the importance of embracing diversity and inclusion. Encourage children to celebrate and respect differences in others, and teach them about the value of inclusivity and acceptance. By fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, we can help children develop a greater appreciation for the richness and complexity of the world we live in.


It is also important to model inclusive behavior and attitudes for children by engaging in conversations about privilege and actively working to dismantle systems of oppression and inequality. By demonstrating a commitment to cultural diversity and inclusivity, we can inspire children to follow our lead and become advocates for social justice in their own lives.


Role of Education In Teaching Children About Privilege

Teachers play a pivotal role in educating children about privilege. Here are some strategies for discussing this complex topic with kids:

Start Early: Introduce the concept of privilege at a young age, using simple language that kids can grasp. Even preschoolers can understand basic notions of fairness and inequality.

Use Age-Appropriate Language: Tailor your discussions to the child's age and developmental stage. Use language and examples that resonate with their level of understanding.

Be Honest: It's crucial to be truthful about the realities of privilege and inequality. Honesty empowers children to recognize and address social injustices.

Listen to Their Perspectives: Encourage children to share their thoughts and questions about privilege. Validate their experiences and provide opportunities for open dialogue.


Consequences of Avoiding Discussions about Privilege

Avoiding conversations about privilege can have detrimental effects:

Reinforcing Inequality: Ignoring privilege perpetuates existing inequalities and hinders efforts to create a fairer society.

Creating Blind Spots: Children may develop blind spots to the experiences of marginalized groups if they are unaware of their own privilege.

Missed Growth Opportunities: Discussions about privilege offer valuable opportunities for empathy, critical thinking, and self-reflection. Avoiding these discussions deprives children of important learning experiences.


Age-Appropriate Approaches to Explaining Privilege

Tailor your discussions about privilege to the child's age:

  • For Young Children (Ages 3-5): Keep explanations simple and relatable, using examples from their everyday lives.
  • For Elementary-Aged Children (Ages 6-9): Introduce privilege in relation to race, gender, and socio-economic status, using concrete examples.
  • For Pre-teens and Tweens (Ages 10-12): Discuss how privilege intersects with different identities and encourage critical thinking about social inequalities.
  • For Teenagers (Ages 13-18): Engage teenagers in discussions about systemic power structures and empower them to advocate for social justice.

Also read: How To Approach Difficult Discussions With Teenagers

Remember, discussing privilege is an ongoing process that requires sensitivity, honesty, and respect for children's emotional well-being.



Talking to children about privilege is an essential step toward raising socially aware and empathetic individuals who are committed to creating a more just and equitable world. By using relatable examples, providing age-appropriate explanations, and encouraging empathy and action, we can help children develop a deeper understanding of privilege and its implications. Remember, discussing privilege with children is not about placing blame or guilt, but rather about fostering understanding and empathy towards others. By having open and honest conversations about privilege, we can empower children to become agents of change and advocates for equality in their communities and beyond.

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