We’re writing to tell you that we understand—Sometimes parenting can be difficult and as your little one speedily grows older, ever-hungry to know more, things can get a little complicated… For example, when she sees that sanitary napkin ad and asks, “Ma, what are these girls wearing?”
You want to explain it all, but suddenly the ‘D’ in PERIOD seems to stand for ‘DOUBT’. “Is it too early to tell her all?”, “How do I explain the pain and the blood?”, “What if she gets confused or... scared?”, “What if someone else talks to her, and tells her the wrong things?” the questions in your mind just won’t stop.
Ma, take a deep breath. We’ve got your back. If your child is eight years old or above, sit her down and have The Talk using these five simple steps.
STEP 1: Explain the sciency-stuff. As simply as possible.
Find an easy metaphor. Something like saying that, “Periods are a natural bodily function. They’re a little like getting a nosebleed every month… just that, that instead of your nose you have blood coming out from down there.”
Understand the amount of information your child would be able to process based on how old they are. If they are eight or above, explain why this is happening with some detail.
“Every month, a woman’s body prepares to make a baby," you could say, wearing a solemn look. "For this, the uterus, which is in your stomach, lines itself with nutrient-rich blood. When the baby isn’t formed, the uterus lets the blood go and you have your period for anywhere between 3 to 7 days! It happened to me, happened to your sister, even grandma when she was young," you could smile and say!
Remember: The ‘talk’ isn’t a one-time event. It is a conversation that can be revisited and supplemented as your child grows older and gradually understands more. Your goal for this talk is pretty simple—to just inform her and start what will be an ongoing conversation.
STEP 2: Answer ALL the questions (and there WILL BE a LOT!)
- Does it hurt?
- Do boys get it?
- So I have a baby inside my stomach right now?
- Are periods compulsory?
- Will all my blood leave my body?
- Will people know I am bleeding?
- Can I use a Band-Aid?
- How will I know it has happened?
- Does Peppa Pig have it?
We can almost hear that little voice asking all these questions, bubbling with innocent excitement. First thing’s first, DON’T panic. Rehearse answers to questions you think you may be asked in front of the mirror and then calmly, smilingly, issue your answers. Remember, there is no such thing as too much information as innocence may be bliss, but ignorance certainly isn’t!
STEP 3: Explain what to look out for...
Periods aren’t a salient event. As your child grows older and reaches the cusp of puberty, you may want to indicate some things that are part and parcel of 'growing up'. Such as:
- Breast growth
- Underarm hair
- Pubic hair
- Height spurts
- Weight spurts
Think back by a decade or so, and you’ll remember how confusing this age with all its developments was. What you want to do now is to prepare your little one by at least telling her what sort of stuff to watch out for. Help her understand the changes that may occur, chart them out and watch her learn to understand her own body.
Most importantly, remind her she’s not alone in this! She has you (and certainly Barbie, Wonder Woman and Peppa Pig)!
STEP 4: …And, the things they’ll soon need.
Cups, tampons, sanitary napkins, period panties… welcome to the Museum of Period Artifacts. Conduct a fun show and tell where you familiarise your daughter with the miscellaneous artefacts that periods usually come with. You could even do this with your partner. Don’t feel embarrassed. Treat these like everyday objects, similar to maybe the way you’d talk to her about gardening tools, and get ready to feel proud because you taught her well. :)
STEP 5: Just DO IT!
We hear you, ma! The hesitation and temptation to postpone the talk may be running high, but sadly, there is NO right place or time for things like this.
Your little one might get her period in a bus, classroom, summer camp—now, or two years later. And if she remains unaware then she may get scared, confused or overwhelmed.
What you can do, as you always do, is to make sure she’s prepared. Because there’s no one better to prepare her than you. :)
We hope you found this article helpful, and that our pointers can guide you to having a more open conversation with your daughter, or any young girl. Have any questions? Comment below.