Menstruation can be a daunting topic for parents and young girls. You may feel a bit uneasy about talking to your daughter about such a sensitive subject. But discussing puberty, changes in her body, and menstruation is important before she experiences her first period. With a little forethought, you can have candid, positive conversations about menstruation to help alleviate fears and concerns. If you don’t really know how to talk to your daughter about her first period, you’ve come to the right place.
Open the Conversation Early
Picture this. Your daughter is headed off to a friend’s birthday party. She spends lots of time choosing her outfit and fixing her hair to get ready for the event. You drop her off and she is all giggles and smiles, excited to see her friends. Then you get a call 30 minutes later, and your daughter is in tears. She’s locked herself in her friend’s bathroom because she started her period for the first time. She doesn’t know what to do, and she’s too embarrassed to ask for help.
This is what we all want to avoid. While most girls start their periods around the age of 12, some girls start as young as 9 or 10 years old. Take a proactive stance and talk to her openly before she has an experience like the one above.
The taboo that surrounds discussions about puberty or menstruation is ridiculous. This absolutely normal, natural part of life has become a topic that creates anxiety, shame and embarrassment, and it’s time to normalize periods. Talk to your daughter naturally about changes she may experience in her body. As you explain the development of her reproductive organs, make sure to allow opportunities for her to ask questions as well.
Helping your daughter feel normal and confident about her body and her period will prevent her from feeling scared or disgusted when she has her first experience. The more she understands, the more normal she will feel.
Use Anatomically Correct Language
Part of normalizing this topic includes talking about our bodies correctly. Be straightforward and steer clear of indirect names for our private parts. If your daughter is uncomfortable with terms like vagina, discharge, and menstrual cycle, she may cringe or even blush when she hears them. It’s important to help her realize that we should treat the feminine parts of our body with some extra care and respect. Emphasize that her private parts and these rites of passage are not something she should ever be ashamed of. The best way to normalize these conversations is to talk about our bodies and the incredible things they do normally.
Answer the Whats, Whys, and Hows
When you first approach your young daughter, she may not even know what questions to ask. Have a plan and discuss all the “basics” with her. Eventually, she may have more questions and she just wants to feel comfortable talking with you. Here are some questions to get you started:
- What is menstruation?
- Why do we have a period?
- When will I get my first period?
- What does a period feel like?
- How long will it last?
- Does it hurt?
- What is PMS?
- Can I swim or play sports while I have my period?
- Will everyone know that I have my period?
Use a Resource
You may want to consider finding a book that explains puberty and all of the changes that occur in a girl’s body. But don’t just give her a book and call it a day. Make sure she knows that she can talk you about these things and ask you anything. You may have a conversation and explore a book together and then leave it with her for her to examine more closely. Then in a few days, be sure to follow up with her and ask her if she has any questions. Don’t wait for her to come to you. Some girls will be too shy, so it’s up to the parent to approach the conversation. As you learn how to talk to your daughter about her period, she will become more comfortable coming to you with her concerns.
Don’t know where to start? Here are a few options to check out:
- The Period Book: A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up (for ages 9-12)
- The Care and Keeping of You (for ages 8-10)
- Celebrate Your Body (and it’s changes too!) (for ages 8-12)
Let’s face it, the myriad of period products available can be overwhelming to grown women, let alone a scared pre-teen. Talk your daughter about the different types of pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and period panties. Explain how each of them work, and talk about your preferences too.
You may even want to discuss some of the risks involved with conventional period products. Teaching your daughter at a young age to avoid chemicals and read labels will nurture a lifelong respect for caring for her body appropriately.
If you haven’t checked out period panties for yourself, I highly recommend that you do so before talking to your daughter. Thinx underwear have totally transformed my own experience with my periods. Not only that, but the company is dedicated to educating girls all over the world about healthy menstruation. They even have a specific line geared for younger girls and teens.
Are you ready to ditch the tampons, pads, and other disposable period products? Get a $10 discount on Thinx Panties for your next cycle.
Be prepared for her first period with these Essential Oil Blends for PMS.