Menstruation is important body function, just like any other, say respiration or digestion. Yet often, across the world, discussing it openly has an element of discomfort or shame. When you think back to the last couple of generations, even educating daughters about periods was done just after they got their period or their friends got it or they heard of it in school and had the courage to ask their moms. Sex education in schools too was not heard of, in-fact chapters related to the reproductive system were often skipped or given for self-study.
Things are much better now, with so much awareness. Parents are becoming more and more proactive when it comes to discussing sensitive matters with children and this is a wonderful change. Here are some tips for parents, to start discussing periods with their daughters as well as sons.
Discussing periods and puberty with our daughters
There is no right or wrong time to discuss periods with your daughter, but generally anytime after 8 is when they are understanding and more conscious of themselves as well as their surroundings. As a parent, you will be able to pick up these signals where you can see their transformation. Also, if they have heard about it from their friends and ask you about it, then that is the time when you must discuss it rather than put them off or change the topic.
- Explain to them about the body parts, different systems in the body and their functions.
- Then talk a bit more about the reproductive system. Talking about this would vary depending on the age of your daughter, and what helps is discussing it progressively and giving information that they would be able to comprehend as per their age
- Tell them about hormones and how they are responsible for different body functions
- Talk to them about physical changes that would occur once the body starts producing these hormones.
- Explain to them about sanitary pads, panty liners and maintaining hygiene during periods and otherwise.
Wikihow explains in detail about explaining puberty and periods to your daughter.
Discussing periods with our sons
While there is so much discussed on talking about periods with our daughters, talking about it with sons is often not thought of. Boys usually would get their information either observing their mothers and sisters or through friends – and mostly this information would be incorrect or partially correct. Discussing periods with guys used to be a forbidden thing and I remember many of my friends were prevented to use the “P” word in front of their father and brothers. To make sure we get rid of the taboo associated with menstruation, as well educate our sons correctly about periods and be sensitive to those around them, talking to them about it is essential.
- Start by explaining to them about the body parts, different systems in the body and their functions.
- Move on to talking about the reproductive system and how it varies in boys and girls
- Talk about how women are the ones who carry a child in their womb and give birth
- Explain about the function of the uterus, how the lining is thickened every month and that if a woman doesn’t have a baby inside, the uterus no longer needs the thickened lining created that month. The lining dissolves and is dispelled through the vagina as blood
- Explain to them about the discomfort and changes girls experience
- Make them understand that it is a natural process and nothing to make fun of or be weird about
Wikihow explains in detail on discussing periods with boys/sons
First period kit
Preparing your daughter before her first period is important. Having a small kit ready to carry along with her in case she may not be at home when the first period shows up is very helpful. This would help her be more confident as well and better prepared for her period.
Take a small pouch with the following essentials
- Sanitary napkins – demonstrate to them how to use a sanitary napkin and let her try it on a couple of times before she actually gets her period
- Panty liners – often months or weeks before the first period appears, the vaginal discharge increases. These would help her maintain hygiene. Again show her how these are used
- An extra pair of panties
- A change of clothes (could be an extra school uniform when she carries the kit to school)
- A garbage bag to keep the stained panties/ clothes
- An intimate wash
- An antifungal/ anti rash powder
- A chocolate bar 😊 just to lift up her spirits
Being open and approachable is the key to help our children through puberty. They should be comfortable coming to us parents with any questions they might have and discussing their doubts and fears with you. And as parents, we need to be able to explain to them and talk to them without feeling uncomfortable or awkward. This 2-way communication is what will make puberty, periods and the transition easy for children, at the same time not be a taboo or something they are ashamed of.
“This post is for #OpenNTalk Blogger’s League hosted by @Gleefulblogger & @Wigglingpen in association with wonderful sponsors – SummerBarn, Vedantika Herbals, Nyassa, Explore Kids World.”
Feature imagecourtesy:: oddnaari.in,
This is a very helpful post for moms who are confused about how to talk to their kids about the topic of menstruation.
Menstruation is a natural phenomenon that parents need to discuss uninhibited with their children. Only then can we do away with the social evil of menstrual exclusion, the sanitary-pad-packaging in black bags. Education begins at home!
Your post is a must read for all parents.
On a related note, check out this short film, brilliantly executed to spread awareness in all teenagers, irrespective of their gender..
This is a wonderful and compassionate post, Sabeeka. I love the bit about adding a Chocolate Bar to the kid. I will be sharing it with my friends who have young daughters.
Really, we should break the taboo and talk loud. Girls and Boys both should be educated properly about menstruation. #BloggerBabes #OpeNTalk
This is one topic where we really have a lot to do. Even amongst ourselves , it seems tough but I sometimes wonder why do we have to make fake excuses when a male colleague or anyone asks us and why can’t we just say we have chums. The day we can, just like we say it about a fever or loose motion is the day we can truly normalise it
Forgot the hashtag when adding my comment #BloggerBabes #OpenNTalk
It’s important to talk as shared with both daughters and sons about menstruation. Right guidance at the right time is always helpful. You have shared in a very easy manner how to deal with it, thanks for sharing this. #zarahatkeblogreads #CrossBorderSisters #OpenNTalk
This is perfect. I liked the way you have spoken about taking up the subject of menstruation with children and made it look so easy. It definitely is not so tough. The ice has to be broken. If parents won’t then who will? If I may add, an intimate wash is not-so-advisable since the chemicals in it are carcinogenic and are known to reduce the immunity and disturb the pH balance of the delicate area. This article made for a good read. Cheers!
Yes a right timing plays an important role in educating children and preparing daughters in advance as they don’t set any misguided image of it. I liked the way you have listed the Do’s in the list.
MeenalSonal from AuraOfThoughts
My elder daughter is approaching this phase and your post was just the thing needed. Loved your straightforward opinion of breaking the taboo with boys. #readbypreetispanorama
Periods are such a taboo still. Glad that you also talked about educating boys about menstruation.
Menstruation is no longer a “shhhh..not now” topic. Today parents want to be proactive. My daughter is 10 and they had a Girls Talk at school. I also attended that and was so happy to see how the school nurse had explained them in a much natural way. But before that session I talked to her about it and she was very much at ease during the school talk. Open ended talks definitely help them to ask any doubt they have without hesitation.