Talking with children about puberty is not always easy, but it’s important to educate your child and help them feel comfortable asking questions as their body changes. For girls, menstruation is the most significant change they experience as they transition from child to teenager. Whether you are a mom, grandmother, aunt, or other female caregiver, how you talk about periods can shape their perspective on the changes that come with puberty.
How to discuss the topic openly:
- It’s important to portray periods in a positive light to help girls begin feeling comfortable about this change in their body.
- Be open and honest, and answer any questions she may have. If you don’t know the answer, let her know you will find more information and then talk about it together.
When to start having conversations:
- Talking with your daughter before they start their period is the best way to make sure they are prepared when they start menstruating. Most girls get their first period between ages 10-13.
- It can be helpful to have multiple smaller conversations about sensitive topics like menstruation. Instead of having “the talk”, discussing menstruation several times can help avoid information overload and normalize the topic.
What to talk about:
- Talk with your daughter about what menstruation means: her body has begun releasing eggs from the ovaries, and she is physically capable of getting pregnant.
- Make sure to create a plan with your daughter if she starts her period at school. Together, you can prepare a “period kit” to keep in a backpack or locker.
- Review feminine hygiene products and how to use them. Most younger girls feel more comfortable wearing pads at first, but talk with your daughter about the different options.
- Talk about how long and how often she will get her period (this can vary), PMS, period cramps, and toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
- Remind her that everyone is different; some girls will get their periods early, and some will be delayed. This does not mean that anyone is “ahead” or “behind”.
Your pediatrician can provide information and talking points if you would like additional resources.