Stepping into Menstruation is a life-changing journey for a young girl. It can be beautiful and make her feel extremely empowered, the thought of being at the brink of girlhood and womanhood at the same time. However, most times, due to the lack of awareness, a girl’s first period can be a traumatic experience if she doesn’t know what’s going on with her body.
As a parent, it’s extremely important to have the “period talk” with your daughter so that she is prepared to cope with it better if it appears unannounced (which, it mostly always does for the first time) and so that the experience doesn’t turn into her worst nightmare but more, a nostalgic positive memory she can share with her own daughter when the time comes.
“Where do I start?” and “When is it a good time to tell her?” are often questions that many parents ponder over for too long and this procrastination often leads to a confused first period experience for most girls. So stop thinking and start talking! Here are a few tips that can help you understand how and what to keep in mind while having the talk with your child:
It's best to talk to your daughter about periods before she gets to know about it when it first happens. Or before her friends talk about it amongst themselves and she finds out from them. Start with the simple details like asking them what they know about puberty and then based on the information they provide you with, help them further by correcting them where they are wrong. It’s important that she is prepared and knows how to deal with her period rather than not understanding and knowing what to do and eventually landing up in an embarrassing situation. Usually, a girl can attain puberty at any time between the age of 10 to 15 and it is happening earlier and earlier these days; so make sure to have the first basic conversation with her when she is about to turn 10. Then you can gradually provide her with more information in the following conversations.
Try talking to your daughter as frequently as you can to normalise periods for them because there’s no doubt that at first, this conversation may be extremely awkward and uncomfortable for most kids. However, the more you talk, the more it will encourage them to ask questions and put an end to any hesitation that the may have had in the previous conversations. Also, it might take more than one conversation for them to completely comprehend this change that will soon be a part of their lives. So, break the silence and let them feel comfortable enough to get their information from the right source – you never know, they might just end up helping their unprepared friends out!
Boys should be as aware of menstruation as girls so that they can become empathetic and sensitive towards problems faced by their female peers. Boys should be taught about their own puberty and with that, they should also be educated on female puberty. This knowledge will help boys understand what a woman is going through, might add to their personality development and will teach them how to be more comforting and kind towards their female friends from a young age.
Try to be as honest as you can be while educating your kids on menstruation. Answer any questions that they may have without hesitation. In case they don't ask questions, ask them if they need more clarity in order to make sure that they get their information from the right source.
Try including as many personal experiences during this talk as you possibly can as this might help them relate more to the conversation and lighten the mood. A child always looks up to their parents – knowing that you have gone through the same journey and had your own share of experiences will be somewhat comforting to your child.
If your child is one of the late bloomers, she might feel left out and strange if all of her peers have already started their periods. Remind her not to doubt her body and feel pressured that she hasn’t got her period yet. Tell her that every individual functions differently and that her body is preparing for puberty – she will eventually get her period when she’s ready.
Keep things simple but make sure to cover all topics. If you think your daughter may be interested in knowing the biology as well, make sure to educate her! Remember, enthusiasm and curiosity is welcome!
Here are some topics that you should cover:
Decide how much information your child needs on the basis of the age.
Tell her that it cannot be predicted, however, it usually begins approximately two years after the breasts start developing.
It can last from 3 to 5 days for adults but for the first year, it can last anywhere between 2 to 7 days. Also tell her that her flow can fluctuate between light and heavy but after the first year, the flow is usually heaviest on the 2nd and 3rd day.
Educate her on PMS symptoms – lower abdominal cramps, headaches, mood swings, backaches being the most common; and slight dizziness, diarrhoea and nausea being the more uncommon symptoms.
Teach her about the various menstrual products – pads, tampons, period panties and menstrual cups and how to use them and how often they require a change.
Remind her that periods are perfectly normal – in case she is still worried about her friends finding out, reassure her that none of the period products are visible externally so no one but herself will know!