How to Explain Menstruation to Your Daughter: 7 Tips to Help Parents Talk to Girls About Their Periods by Amelia Grant
“Mom, what is this?” asked my 7-year-old daughter as she took a pack of tampons from the dressing table drawer. Being unprepared for the talk about puberty and menstruation, I decided to improvise. "Hmm ... These are nozzles for windshield wipers, honey."
Do you know how to talk with your daughter about menstruation and puberty when the time comes? It will happen sooner than you expect. According to KidsHealth.org, most girls get their first period when they're around 12. But getting it any time between age 10 and 15 is OK. Every girl's body has its own schedule.
Here are seven tips that may help you get through this touchy conversation:
- Talk about menstruation from an early age. You can talk about menstruation in the context of natural functions. Children perceive such information better. You can tell your daughter, “You know, one day you will grow up and look like your mother. You will have breasts and hair will grow in certain places. Your body will constantly change, preparing you to become an adult woman.”
- Gradually start talking about more specific facts. You can tell your daughter more about what menstruation means. It should be explained that the presence of menstruation indicates the possibility of becoming pregnant if the girl has sex.
- Answer questions according to the child’s age. If your first grader girl has found a box of tampons, you can simply tell her, “Mom uses these items when she has her period.” Don't go into a two-hour explanation of the menstrual cycle, ovulation and the female anatomy.
- Try to understand what your daughter is actually asking. Find out what your daughter already knows about menstruation instead of trying to figure out what to tell her. Perhaps she has a general idea of the bleeding or heard another girl talking about her first menstruation. Ask your daughter, “What do you know about this?” You need to find out if she understood everything correctly or not to share reliable information with her. At the same time, you will have time to think about how to answer her questions correctly.
- Use your own experience to start a conversation with your daughter. Before telling a child about menstruation, it would be OK to ask, "Do you have any questions?" Unfortunately, most will say no. So instead, take a lighter approach by saying, “You know, when I was your age, I was very worried about my first period, because I thought it would hurt. Are you worried about this?”
- Do not just hand your daughter a book or video. You can use popular literature or videos as a starting point for a conversation where you explain to your daughter about menstruation. But you shouldn't just hand over a book and consider that your work is done. Watch a video with your child or read a few pages of a book about periods together, and then discuss it.
- Remember that “I don't know” is an acceptable answer. Sometimes children ask questions that we are not ready for. In this case, it’s better to say, “Good question. I will think it over and answer you.” But be sure to answer. Do not pretend that you forgot about it in the hope that your daughter doesn't remember.
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