Starting her period is a big event in your daughter’s life. It’s a big change for them and so, naturally, can be scary. Many young girls will be anxious about their first period, especially as it is seen as a bit of a taboo subject. It’s important that you can approach your daughter about her menstrual cycle so that she is knowledgeable and to change any negative attitudes surrounding periods. Although it can be quite uncomfortable to talk about, it’s important that you are open and confident. This will empower your daughter as she will have a better understanding of her body and be able to make good decisions regarding her own health in the future.
When Should You Bring Up Periods With Your Daughter?
Like most things, it’s best to broach the subject of periods sooner rather than later. That way it’ll feel natural to talk about it when the occasion requires. The conversation shouldn’t be just one formal sit down event but an ongoing process that develops as she gets older. If your daughter (or son for that matter) is with you as you shop for tampons and asks about them, don’t shy away from the question. Instead, give them an age-appropriate answer.
According to the NHS, most girls start their periods at around 12 years of age but this is not set in stone and it is possible for girls to start their periods much earlier. Therefore, there is no “good age” to start talking about periods – the earlier you start, the better prepared and more natural it will seem.
Tips For Talking To Your Daughter About Periods
Approaching the subject of periods in a confident and open manner is so important, but it can be difficult. How you talk about periods will shape how your daughter feels about them. To make sure she recognises it’s a completely natural process, use these tips for talking periods:
Start With Brief Comments
Start looking for opportunities where you can make a comment. For example, when a tampon advert comes on, make a comment about periods. This lets your daughter know that the subject is up for discussion and eases you into the conversation. Over time, this will become easier for you and allow you to confidently explore the subject in more detail.
Don’t just tell her everything you know about periods. Instead, ask her what she knows. That way you can develop on her knowledge rather than bombarding her with what she already knows. She’ll probably appreciate being treated like an adult with this subject too. Don’t limit this just to periods either, it’s important that she understands the full menstrual cycle.
Use The Proper Terms
It’s important that your daughter will feel comfortable discussing her periods in the future, so don’t use ‘cover-up’ language. Nevermind “down below” and “time of the month. Instead, use direct terms such as “vagina” and “period”. It will normalise the language for her so that talking about periods isn’t embarrassing.
Be Prepared For Her Questions
It’s natural for your daughter to have a million and one questions when you start talking about periods. So be prepared for common queries she’ll likely ask. Have the answers to “When will I get my first period”, “How much blood will I lose” and “How do I prepare”. And if you don’t know, be honest and look it up together.
Dispel Any Myths
Old wives tales about periods still exist, so it’s important to nip these in the bud. Even small things like being told that menstrual blood is ‘dirty’ can affect her attitude to periods in the future. So, ask what her friends have told her and if there’s anything she’s unsure about. All sorts can do the rounds in the playground, and even if she knows some things aren’t true (like being able to make milk curdle) it can ease her anxieties to hear it from someone else.
Explore Period Products
Once you’ve started the period talk with your daughter, you should be ready to tackle period products. Take her to the shop to look at the options and be hands-on. Take a look at all of them while letting her ask questions and form her own opinions. Check out all the products, pads (reusable and disposable), tampons, period pants and menstrual cups. Even look at those you haven’t used. Your daughter needs to have the confidence to pick what’s right for her and she’ll only achieve this with knowledge.
This is probably the most important tip of all. Empower your daughter. Make sure she knows that periods are nothing to be ashamed of; they are not dirty, but just a natural process. Avoid listing all the negatives, such as cramps, but deal with any symptoms as they come along. Let’s face it, we’re all different so there’s no point worrying your daughter with a list of negative effects.
But don’t let that stop you telling her what might go wrong, for example, if she is caught short and starts her period at school. Teach her how to deal with these issues and who she can go to for help. Part of this is also encouraging her to help other girls if she sees that someone else is having trouble. It’s important that girls are there for each other when it comes to periods.
Don’t Forget The Males In Your Life
To make it easier for girls (and women) to talk about their periods, men must not be excluded from talks. If they are, it only means that there is less understanding which makes it embarrassing for girls to talk. It’s important, for example, that girls have the confidence to tell their dad on a day out that they need to quickly nip to a shop as they have started their period.
For parents where a female mother is absent, don’t be afraid to talk to your daughter about periods. If you are unsure, enrol a female relative or family friend to help out. But you will still need to be able to talk to your daughter about this, for example when period products end up on the shopping list.
Talking about periods to your daughter is never easy, for parent or child. It signals that your daughter is growing up, but she needs knowledge so that she is confident about what is happening to her body. If she doesn’t want to talk, don’t give up. Let her know you are there a little later, whether this is via letter, text or another method. Just ensure she knows that when she wants to talk about it, you are there. Periods are nothing to be ashamed of and need to be treated as the normal process they are.
Disclosure: collaborative post