“Periods? That is gross!“
Do not be surprised if you get such a response from your tween when you are finally ready to have that all-important chat about periods with her. It may seem just like yesterday when the girl was busy playing with Lego or had just learned to talk. Now she is probably wearing braces and listening to the latest pop song. Before you start thinking – where did all the time go? – let me tell you that the time has actually arrived to be talking to your tween about periods.
I know, I know, it’s covered in schools now with their health education. It is still very important for them to hear the information from you, their parent. They need to know you are on board with the challenges they will soon face and you will be able to address any fears or concerns that they weren’t comfortable bringing up in front of their peers.
Chatting with your daughter about periods may seem a bit awkward, so you must get comfortable with your own feelings before you start the talk. This is an extremely important time for you as well as your kiddo. Since this is a big change in the life of your daughter, you can go to some place in the house where you can have a private talk. When you make an extra effort to find the perfect spot to start the talk, both you and your daughter will feel less awkward.
You can start off by showing her a picture of the female anatomy and show her where the different parts of the female reproductive system like the ovaries, vagina and uterus are located. You must tell her that girls are born with a couple of ovaries and every month an egg gets released from the that moves down to the uterus. When the egg does not get fertilized (you may choose to explain further) then the egg and the uterine lining comes out in the form of blood through the vagina. This blood could be red or pink in color and may seem a lot but is actually only about 5 tablespoons.
What is normal?
You can also explain to her that periods come every 21 to 35 days and lasts for a minimum of 3 days. You must also explain to her that the flow of blood is always heaviest in the first 1 to 3 days. Let her know that her menstrual cycle may take a few months or more to get regulated and she may not even get the periods every month as her system is priming to start. She needs to know that she is NORMAL.
As per studies, the average age of the girls getting their first periods is around 12.5 years but the girls get their first periods around 6 to 12 months of the age when the mother got theirs. Many experts say that girls who are into sports tend to get the periods later but there are certain exceptions to this theory.
Making a plan
The next step would be to introduce your daughter to the world of pads, tampons and/or pantiliners. Tell her about the pros and cons of each and allow her to take a decision on which one she wants to use. You must allow and help her create an emergency pack of pads so that she is ready for the situation when the period strikes. As soon as her period starts teach her to maintain a diary to check when her period starts and stops. This is a useful life skill! When planning that camping trip or overnight with a friend? If you are close to the start of your cycle you know to plan ahead and have supplies on hand.
It is very important that you tell your daughter that each and every girl gets her period. Middle school is a tough enough time and add in changing bodies? Big time suck! It can help to share with her your experience of when you first got yours. I shared with Miss Sarah about how we almost died in fourth grade watching the videos in the old gym and seeing the sanitary belts demonstrated. Praise the Lord that self adhesive pads came out just before the actual time they were needed! Want to see a sample of the kinds of videos we had to watch ? Check out this gem HERE and FYI? The bit about swimming with “the curse” is false…
It is natural that your daughter may even panic when she gets her first period but you must always remain on her side and calm her so that she slowly understands that it is a natural body process that merely signifies that she is stepping onto womanhood.
Now brace yourself – soon you will have to have the “sex talk”… then the talk about protecting yourself situationally. Ugh – our jobs as parents is never done but it is us to us to aperiodsrm them will the knowledge they need to help navigate their way through life. Talking to tweens about periods is just another step in the path of that journey.