My daughter just got her first period a little over a month ago, and it was a smooth process —and one of my proudest accomplishments. But it doesn’t always go that way. Here is how I approached her big moment, so you can stay cool, calm and collected when it’s your turn:
1. Get your mind right – This “thing” can happen WAY sooner than you might expect, so put your big girl/boy underwear on and get yourself ready. The average age for a girl to start her period is 12.5 years old (6th grade), but it is more and more commonly happening earlier. 3rd grade is not too soon to start!
2. Be on the lookout for signs of the first period – Moodiness, excessive sleepiness, and unexplained tummy aches without fever can be their first cramps,
3. Start having “The Talk” – I never would’ve thought that the first-period talk was just as hard if not harder than the sex talk. But it really was for me. Just keep it simple, it’s more about sharing the simple fact that blood will come out of her vagina and that it won’t hurt. Keep in mind that with children, when blood has showed up before this point, there has been some level of trauma.
4. Signs of her first period to talk to her about — Tell her to be on the look-out for discharge, a creamy whitish or light yellowish release in their panties. This will be the first indication that she needs to start wearing some form of protection every day to avoid a mess.
5. Tell her that she probably won’t feel anything – Tell her that cramps are painful but save the details for a separate conversation. Most girls incidentally find blood in their panties, on the tissue after they’ve wiped themselves, or in the toilet.
6. Talk about cramps – Prepare them with methods that can ease the pain: heating pads, Motrin, etc. Be sure to tell them that if they choose to use ibuprofen for pain control, to make sure they drink plenty of water so that it doesn’t metabolize in their kidneys.
7. Show her how pads work — Make sure you have a few on hand along with some clean panties and show them exactly how to do it, then help them practice. If their first period comes away from home, they’ll be more confident in how to take care of themselves.
8. Make sure she has a “first-period kit” —It can be as simple as a Ziploc bag with some pads in it that they have unwrapped/practiced with before. Put one in their book bag, leave one in their locker and if dad lives separately, make sure he has one too. For the school version – use a pencil case or something else that’s a little more discreet.
9. Share a personal story — Talk to them about your first time or of one of your friends, especially if it was embarrassing. It’s important to know that even with the best preparation, sometimes things don’t go smoothly, but it shouldn’t impact their self-worth or esteem.
10. Relax – Sooner or later it’s going to happen. You can feel confident that she’s both prepared and open to talking to you, and honestly, that’s the most critical part. Feel good that you’ve done a great job!