How To Talk To Your Daughter About Her First Period
“Let’s talk about your period”, is something no young girl wants to hear. This subject can be uncomfortable for girls and parents to talk about especially if it’s a dad. But it’s one of those “big talks” that can’t be avoided. It seems girls are starting earlier and earlier these days so it’s important that we prepare our daughters for the inevitable.
Girls usually start menstruation during the pre-teen years between 10 and 12 but some start as young as 8 or 9. My daughter was around 8 when we had the official period talk. She knew a little about it already because she asked several times before “mom, why do you buy tampons?”. She’s even opened one of the boxes to read the instructions… yes, I know! That of course lead to a minor freak out and I can’t blame her, I mean the thought of bleeding and having to insert tampons would freak me out too! I briefly explained to her that when she starts her period she wouldn’t use tampons but they are an option for her as she gets older.
Here are some tips for talking to your daughter about her period.
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The topic of your daughter’s period should come up often and should be introduced early. While you don’t need to tell her about absolutely everything when she is a small child, you should take different opportunities to bring up puberty and what happens to a girl’s body when she reaches a certain age. The last thing you want is for her to start her period a little earlier than expected, and be completely confused or even terrified about what’s happening to her body. This is why when your daughter starts going to school, you should start discussing what her period is and what to expect.
The best way for you to prepare your daughter for what’s to come is to be prepared yourself. So let’s start with the first few signs her period will be starting soon.
It usually takes three to four years for breasts to fully develop, but you can expect her period about two years after her breasts start developing.
Growing Pubic/Underarm Hair
Just after her breasts start to form, she’ll probably start growing pubic hair and hair under her arms. It will be soft and thin at first, but it’ll get coarser over time. Menstruation usually occurs around one to two years after.
Vaginal discharge (white or yellowish fluid) is usually a sure sign that her first period is on its way.
At this stage I would expect a period at any time, so making sure your daughter has a period kit on hand will be on the best things you can do for her right now. I still clearly remember starting my period in the 6th grade at school… while I was wearing khaki pants!! The horror I felt the moment I realized what was happening is indescribable. That wasn’t my very first period (thank god) but I wasn’t expecting it so I wasn’t prepared!
I refuse to let my 11-year-old daughter go to school without having a period kit in her backpack. You can buy a pre-made first period kit like the ones pictured below. The bag is really cute, discreet and this is perfect if you just want her to have something just in case.
I personally made a little bag for my daughter to keep in her backpack with specific items I want her to have. Either way having a period kit is always a good idea!
Choose Age-Appropriate Topics
While you do want to start talking about menstruation and puberty at a young age, you should also consider what’s appropriate to tell her at her age. Younger girls aren’t going to understand everything there is to know about puberty, but you can tell her that as she grows her body will change. When she’s a little older start talking about how she will get hair in different places and her breasts will grow. When she nears closer to the age of her period, then start talking about the specifics, like using maxi pads and what else she can expect from menstruation.
Answer Her Questions
It can be hard to know when a good time is to start the conversation, so you might want to wait until the opportunity arises. Like I mentioned above my daughter started asking about my tampons, that to me was an indicator that she was old enough to share a little information. For instance, If your daughter asks why you have breasts and she doesn’t, this is what is called a teachable moment. It is a good time to start bringing up female bodies, puberty, and what will happen when she gets older. Don’t miss out on the chance to explain something important to her that she is going to have to deal with just because it is awkward.
It’s okay to start showing your daughter books and movies that also go over menstruation with little girls, in fact, it just might make the transition into this conversation easier but don’t just give her a book and call it a day. She wants to know she can open up to you about these things and ask you anything, and you want to be there to answer her questions and never judge her for asking. I think the goals for most of us as parents is to have our kids to be open and honest with us no matter what, this is a great way to open that door.