What are you going to do if your seven-year old daughter suddenly stumbles into your drawer of tampons and pads? Sure you can dodge the bullet by saying “uh… why, they’re windshield wipers honey.” However, it won’t be long before you finally come clean to her about what those really were, especially when she starts having her first period.
Normally, most girls in general get their first period when they reach 12, but some of them may even earlier than that. In fact, even before she gets her first period, your daughter may go through several other changes in her body. According to recent studies, most girls start developing breast bumps around the age of 9 or 10.
The first menstrual cycle is officially known as “Menarche.”
First Signs that Menarche is Approaching
When this happens, take it as a sign that her first period might not be far away now. The appearance of breast bumps indicates that your daughter is about two years away from having her first period. And underarm as well as pubic hair start showing up six months prior to the start of their period.
Vaginal Discharge a few months before a first period is also quite normal.
Karen Zager, PhD, who is a private practicing psychologist in New York City as well as co-author of The Inside Story on Teen Girls: Experts Answer Parents’ Questions, says that talking about a girl’s first period is one of many talks that will be talked about for years to come concerning physical and psychological changes. She goes on to say that these changes will occur when the girls are young in age-appropriate ways.
Here are seven ways to talk to a girls first periods.
What is Menarche?
Seven Tips About Talking To Your Daughter About Her First Period
Here are some things you should keep in mind about talking to your daughter about Menarche
Tip #1: From an early age, talk about periods in general terms
Zager advises that instead of going into details about the changes that your daughter will eventually go through before her first period, try breaking it to her in the context of natural functions so that it’s easy for her to get. You can put it into words like, “Honey, when you grow older, your body will change and be more like Mama’s. That means you will grow breasts and have hair in certain places as well.”
Tip #2: Be more specific with your daughter as she grows older
When your daughter gets older, you can tell her about menstruation, like what her first period will be like and how she will get pregnant upon having sex.
Tip #3: Answer your daughter’s questions with age-appropriate answers
If for instance your first-year old daughter happens to stumble upon your box of tampons or pads, then you can just reply with, “Mommy uses those every month for her periods sweetie.” There really is no need to stretch it into a two-hour session about ovulation or female anatomy.
Tip #4: Use your experience to get into a discussion with your daughter
Lynda Madaras, who authored many popular books on childcare, health and parenting says that it is perfectly ask your daughter if she has any questions about her first period.
Chances are, you may have a pretty curious daughter who responds with, “Yes, I have a number of questions that I have here in my diary.” No need to get into the nitty-gritty aspects of her questions. Instead respond in a more casual manner like, “You know honey, I was your age, I thought getting my first period would hurt very much. Do you feel like that?”
Learn more about First Periods
Tip #5: Understand what your daughter’s trying to ask
It can be a chore to ponder what your daughter is talking about, so try asking her directly and see if it is specifically about her period. If it is about what she heard, as in other girls bleed after having their first period, then ask her, “What did you hear about it?”
You may find that what she heard may have been strange or odd of which you can correct with good information. That will give you some time to strategize an appropriate answer for her.
Tip #6: Do more for your daughter than just handing her a book or a video
Since it will eventually come to that point, you may as well suggest a proper book or a video that explains menstruation to your daughter. But don’t just hand those things to her. You will need to stay with her and explain the content within those items in order to clarify those things your daughter might not understand.
Madaras’ What’s Happening to My Body? and My Body, My Self are great choices, which also have journal notes as well as Q&As that are made specifically for mothers to talk about menstruation and puberty with their daughters.
Check out the Lunar Wild First Period Gift Box
Perhaps the nicest first period gift box set that we’ve run across is this one from Lunar Wild. It contains numerous options for period protection, including organic pads and tampons, a reusable cloth pad, as well as the Saalt Menstrual Cup.
Tip #7: Sometimes “I don’t know” is the best answer
Sometimes, our kids may ask us questions that catch us off guard. Madaras remembers the time when a mother’s five-year-old asked “Who was on top the moment I was conceived?”
Some things are better left for another day and the best response for situations like these is a good old fashioned, “Good question. Let me think about it and then I’ll get back to you on that.” But do get back to her without leaving her hanging and just expecting her to forget about it when she won’t.
What a Girl Wishes to Know About Her First Period
At the advent of puberty, a girl may likely be overjoyed at the thought about leaving childhood behind and finally “becoming a woman.” However, she may also be riddled with other specific thoughts, worries and fears about her first period and the kind of changes her body goes through. Some of the questions they might be asking themselves about menstruation are as follows:
Will I Get My Period At School?
If your daughter’s first period is right around the corner and it might happen at school, then help strategize with her. Prep her purse with tampons or pads, tell her to go to the school nurse or put toilet paper in her underpants as Madaras suggests.
How Do I Use Tampons?
Tampons can more frightening if not used properly. You may want to suggest your daughter to wait it out a bit until she is more comfortable about using tampons. Find smaller-sized tampons to see which ones are more comfortable for her. Ask her to change her tampons after every 4 to 8 hours and ensure that she washes her hands before and after insertion.
What’s This White Stuff In My Underpants?
Girls who hit their first period may come off worried that this phenomenon might mean that they’ve hurt themselves or have a disease. Explain to them this is vaginal discharge, which is a natural process of keeping the vagina clean and is perfectly normal.
Period Products for Tweens and Teens
There are lots of options for period products for young girls. You can check out some of our top picks here:
Is there a Menstrual Cup Specifically for Young Girls?
If you want to get your daughter started on the eco-friendly period products from an early age, then you might want to consider a menstrual cup. However, a young girl will need a much smaller one than an adult would.
One of our top recommendations for menstrual cups for teens is the OI (organic initative) Cup—small. It’s specifically designed for people under the age of 18 who don’t have sex regularly. It has a very small, 35 mm diameter and is also shorter than average at 60 mm long.
Although the Oi Cup is a bit of a newcomer to the scene, early reviews of the product are excellent. Most people who try this cup have only good things to say about it.
It’s soft and comfortable, but also firm enough to be easy to insert and get it to pop open. The company behind the Oi Cup is based in New Zealand, and makes a whole line of top-quality feminine hygiene products including organic pads and tampons.
You can check out the Oi Menstrual Cup, Small for yourself over on Amazon:
I’m 15, But Haven’t Gotten my Period Yet
If you’re 15, but you haven’t gotten your period yet, you have what’s known as Cryptomenorrhea. It’s a less common type of menstrual disorder, and you should visit your doctor to find out what the cause is.
What Happens to Boys at Puberty?
It’s obvious when a girl has reached puberty—she starts to get pubic hair, underarm hair, her breasts begin to develop, and then she has her first period.
However, what happens to boys at puberty is a little bit less obvious. You can find out more here: Signs of Puberty in Boys.
First Periods or Menarche: Have your Say!
What about your tips about talking to your daughters about first periods? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.