How to Tell Your Daughter about Her Approaching Periods
Parents are sometimes caught off guard during various stages of their children’s development. They think they don’t have to cross that bridge for years or just forget. But never ever forget that your children are growing faster than you think them to be.
With the increasing amount of growth hormones and chemicals in our food these days, we find our girls are entering puberty earlier. So prepare yourself and your daughter for this day as she enters womanhood.
Most girls begin to menstruate when they’re about 12 or 13, but periods are possible a few years earlier, too. That’s why explaining menstruation early is so important. No doubt, it’s an awkward subject to talk about, especially with preteen girls who get embarrassed very easily and are shy of even talking about this. How can you prepare both yourself and her for this coming phase in her life?
If your daughter asks questions about menstruation, answer them openly and honestly. Provide as many details as you think she needs at the time. It’s okay to let your daughter set the pace, but if she is not giving you an opening to discuss this, you need to open the door. Consider a series of short conversations about personal hygiene and body development instead of one big, this-is-how-it-all-works, sermon.
Keep It Simple
But before explaining it to your daughter, you must know what menstruation is yourself. Menstruation occurs when a girl’s body is mature enough to become pregnant. Each month, one of the ovaries releases an egg. This is called ovulation. At the same time, hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If ovulation takes place and the egg isn’t fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is a period.
Generally, girls begin menstruating about two years after their breasts begin to grow. In the months before their first periods, many girls experience a thick, white discharge from their vaginas. Often, girls start menstruating within a year of the age when her mother started.
Explain to your daughter how to use sanitary pads or tampons. Many girls are more comfortable starting with pads. Help your daughter decide before the first cycle how to use tampons. But first educate yourself on tampons and chemicals in bleached feminine hygiene products. If she decides to use a tampon, explain that it could take a number of times before she is comfortable with inserting a tampon. Let her know that it is normal. Talk to your daughter about your experiences and feelings, this will encourage her to talk to you about how she is feeling.
If your daughter is starting to show signs that she is close, encourage her to carry a pad or tampon in her backpack or purse. Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as mood swings and irritability, are possible in the days before each period. Often, girls have cramps, typically in the lower abdomen, when their periods begin. Cramps can be dull and achy or sharp and intense.
You may want to educate yourself on methods to deal with cramps before she starts. Be conscious about the story you tell.
What stories and beliefs do you want your daughter to have about being a woman? Know that helping her in this transition can make a huge difference in how she approaches her period and becoming a woman for the rest of her life. Will she hate her cycle? Or will she look at it as a gift, her ability to eventually have children when she desires? Think about the stories and beliefs you heard around your menstrual cycle. Choose which beliefs you want your daughter to have and consider changing the ones that did not serve you well. This may be an opportunity to make your daughter the woman you want her to become.