Not sure how to approach your daughter about her first period? Don’t worry. These tips will help you get the ball rolling.
Talking to your daughter about her first period can be tricky. However, it’s important to explain menstruation in an age-appropriate manner so she isn’t caught off guard when ‘Aunt Flo’ comes to visit. Not sure how to do it? Here are some tips that can help.
1. Speak positively
Traditionally, many conversations about periods have cast them in a negative light. Sure, having a period may be a bother if you’re planning for an active time, but really, it’s not that big a deal, is it? Whatever your own view of periods is, the most important thing is to not influence your daughter’s perception of it. Start by explaining to her that having her period is a sign that her body is healthy! Periods aren’t a week of sickness, and shouldn’t be treated as such. Instead, highlight to her how menstruation is part of fertility and is important if she chooses to have a baby in the future.
2. Explain the details
Be sure to explain the details of what happens during a period so your daughter knows what to expect. She may have incorrect conceptions about what it’s like to menstruate (e.g. the blood will gush out!), so it’s a good idea to patiently explain the physical symptoms. It helps to mention that we only lose about three tablespoons of blood each cycle – not a lot at all! Teach her that during her period, her uterine lining is being shed so old blood and tissue exit our body. Emphasise that it’s normal: the smells, colours, and even some blood clots. It’s also good assure her that her first few periods will be irregular, and that’s normal too.
3. Give her an option to choose period supplies
Now, we have an abundance of choice when it comes to period supplies. There are sanitary pads, tampons, and menstrual cups. There are even ‘period panties’! Research the different choices online with your daughter, and read reviews on different brands. Her lifestyle and level of activeness should also play a part in her choice of period supplies.
(See also: Why You Need to Let Your Child Be Bored)
4. Be hands on
It may be a scary experience for her the first time she attempts to use a pad or tampon. Before her first period, it’s important to be hands-on when demonstrating how to use them. Show her the one you use, or watch YouTube videos together. Be sure to ask if she’d like you to be present (if possible) the first couple of times she uses the product. Also emphasise the different changing times for each product she chooses, so she remembers to switch them out regularly.
5. Work through the logistics
It’s important to prepare your daughter that her first period may occur at any time. Suggest putting spare uniform and underwear in her school locker in case of stains. Both of you can also work together to prepare a “period kit”. In a small pouch, place all the period supplies she may need, including liners, pads, or tampons. She’ll be able to take this “period kit” with her everywhere in case of a period emergency. It’s also kind to assure her that even if she does get caught off guard, she won’t be sitting in a pool of blood. She’ll probably be the only one to notice it, and can just be excused to the bathroom to sort things out.
6. Don’t focus on negative symptoms
Periods get a bad rep. As adults, we’re aware that the symptoms can range from none to severe. However, with all the “horror stories” your daughter’s probably heard, it’s best not to indulge those fears. While some girls may have debilitating periods, not all suffer as much. By focusing on the negative symptoms, she may be afraid before she even experiences her first period. Instead, offer simple suggestions to ease discomfort, such as placing a hot water bottle or heating pad over her abdomen. It’s also a good idea to casually mention when you’re on yours, so she’ll see that you’re fine too!
7. Teach her periods aren’t shameful
As women, we’re often told not to talk about our periods in public. It’s “taboo” or “embarrassing”, and shouldn’t be shared with others. However, it’s important to teach your daughter that it isn’t true at all! Periods are a large part of a woman’s life, and shouldn’t be seen as shameful. Emphasise that it’s perfectly okay, and encourage her to ask questions. It’s also okay to ask other women for a pad or tampon if she’s ever in need and does not have one. The “universal girl code” surrounding periods is one that every woman cherishes. It’s important she embraces and loves her body!
With these tips on how to prepare your daughter for her first period, she’ll be well equipped to deal with whatever may come. The first few cycles for her may still be a scary experience, so it’s important you offer support. Be patient if she may not get it right the first couple of times, we ourselves struggled in the past too! As your daughter matures into a woman, it’s great that you’re along for the journey as a supportive parent.