8 Ways To Prepare Your Tween For Her Period
Why didn’t anyone tell you that your once teeny-tiny, precious little baby would grow up into a tweenager with living, breathing hormones that you need to tame as a parent? You may not QUITE be there yet, but you’re thinking your daughter may be almost to that point of getting her first period.
While the average age today is 12, most girls start to menstruate between ages 10-15 years old. However, each individual has their own schedule, so you should start preparing your tween for what’s to come. “Kids are getting their periods at a younger and younger age,” says Dr. Kathleen Trainor, a clinical psychologist and founder of the TRAINOR Center” So at least by age 10 the talks should start about body changes to prepare them for all the changes that happen in puberty.”
You probably remember when you got your very first period. Your experience with your parents probably ranges the gambit, but I think the majority of women could have been a bit more prepared for this huge change of life. Some girls have absolutely no idea what to expect – especially if they are on the earlier side of things – and their first period comes at complete shock. Now’s your chance as a parent to do it right and offer up your years of wisdom and experience in this arena to prepare your daughter for one of the biggest changes that she’ll go through as a young adult.
First things first – you need to open the lines of communication with your daughter. “Parents need to look for natural openings to discuss this,” notes Dr. Trainor.” This will help create the idea that getting your first period is not this horrible, embarrassing thing that cannot be discussed, but it’s a normal everyday thing that millions of women go through every single day. Heck, even grab your husband, partner or co-parent and get them in on the action. It’s a normal part of life like eating breakfast. Dr. Trainor also recommends, “It is an opening to communicate along the way, through puberty, as needed.”
Review the Basics
Don’t assume that she knows anything at all (even if she’s seen the “video” that they show in public school around this age). Instead, go through the basics. What is menstruation and why do periods even happen? What are the proper anatomy terms for things happening down there? (We won’t judge if you need a refresher course.) Don’t forget the simple things like how long do periods last? What color is period blood? How often should you change your pad/tampon?
Whether it’s online in the privacy of your own home or perhaps at an out-of-the way drugstore, show your daughter the options. A pad is not just a pad – there are nighttime pads, thin pads, everyday pads. A tampon has a million different options – what size does she need, applicator vs. no applicator, etc. Talk to her about what you use and what she might prefer to start with.
Every girl knows tricks to hiding their tampons or pads so no one sees, but you can make it more discreet for your daughter by putting together a period kit before her big day comes. Get a little purse, pencil bag or makeup kit and stock her up with a few essentials to carry around in her backpack or keep in her locker in case it comes up. Then, she’ll be prepared wherever she goes and can easily grab her kit and head to the bathroom with no one the wiser.
One big question girls have is around getting leaks with her period. She’ll want to know how to make sure she doesn’t have a big red spot on the back of her pants every time she stands up. As a young girl, I remember literally being terrified the first few years of that happening. It’s a very common fear and just remind her how often to change her pad and keep an eye on things. Reassurance goes a long way here.
Getting your period in the summer isn’t fun for anyone! Talk through what happens if you have your period during pool days or activities like soccer or gymnastics. She’ll want to understand that yes, she can still participate in all of her favorite pastimes – it’s not like the old days where you have to go into hiding for a week! Thankfully there are plenty of options for active women on the go.
Your tween may not quite be ready for tampons at the get-go, but the curiosity will still be there regardless. How does that fit into there?! How does it work? This is where the anatomy lesson comes in handy – whether or not you show her where it goes or give her the tampon brochure and discuss it with her, she’s going to want to understand how tampons work and when she’s ready, she’ll be able to come to you with any other questions.
Lastly, remind her that getting her period is a really exciting time in her life. She’s growing and becoming a woman. Essentially, she could become a mother now (that’s a whole other conversation). Don’t focus too much on the negative (bloating, cramps, acne) – getting your period is overwhelming enough! Also, you can remind her for what’s coming up next in her life.
The boobs, the pubic hair, the change in their bodies…Overall, reassure her that again, getting periods are something every single woman in the world gets every single month! It’s totally normal and an important rite of passage.
All right, now a pep talk for you parents. You can get through this. Getting her period is a really exciting time and it’s your chance to put a positive spin on it so she’ll go into this stage of life with a good attitude. Buckle up, the best is yet to come! Find more health and sex ed resources for your growing teen here.
Written by Phase2Parenting
PLEASE NOTE: The writers of this article are not medical professionals. The information in this column is not intended and should not be construed as providing medical or psychological advice, but rather to offer readers information and provide a perspective to better understand the lives of themselves and their children. Articles on this website may be opinion based. The articles are not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, psychotherapist or other licensed medical professional. If you do have health or safety concerns, please get in touch with a healthcare professional.