Menstruating is a natural biological process. Just like eating, breathing, sleeping, growing up, and everything in between. But unfortunately, the shame and stigma associated with it have made it a taboo topic for a long time. But not anymore!
All over the globe, doctors, health workers, and psychologists are urging parents to lose their inhibitions and make their children aware of the natural process. By doing that parents can help their children prepare for it and not be scared and stressed when they have their first period.
It may be uncomfortable and difficult for parents to talk about menstruation with their children but it’s extremely necessary. At Wonderize, we believe that every parent should have a period talk with their children. This blog post discusses everything about initiating a conversation about periods with your children. Read on to know more.
Why should you talk about menstruation with your children?
Most of the girls have their first periods when they are between twelve and fourteen years (between sixth and eighth grade). This can be a stressful time for them as they find it difficult to understand the changes taking place in their bodies.
Many of them learn about periods and everything related to it from their classmates and that can confuse them even more, or worse, give them wrong information. Also academically students learn about periods in their ninth and tenth-grade syllabus which is much later. As most girls get their first period earlier than that age.
All this put together, can confuse them and make them even more worried than the experience of their first period itself. Therefore, it is extremely important to make them understand that it is a natural process and dispel all fears, stigma, and doubts around periods.
When should you talk about periods with your children?
Period talk should not be taboo at a younger age. For instance, after seeing a sanitary pad, your eight-year-old may ask what it is and why it is used. You could say what it is called and give some basic information about menstrual blood and how the pad absorbs it. But be prepared to discuss the topic in detail and provide more information as they grow a little older.
On average, a majority of young girls have their first periods between the age of twelve and fourteen years. But a few also get it when they are ten or eleven. One cannot guarantee that they will be around the corner when their child gets their first period. And when that happens it is scary and stressful for them if they don’t know what and why it’s happening to them. So talking about periods by nine or ten and making them understand everything about it is necessary for their wellbeing.
Some physical indicators can tell you when it’s the right time to talk. If your child is experiencing frequent mood swings, feeling gloomy or irritable, or sleeping for long hours then these are the first signs of puberty. Apart from that breast growth and white colorless discharge on underwear indicates the beginning of puberty. Many have their first period within three to twelve months after the white or colorless discharge.
How to discuss the topic with your children?
There is no ‘perfect’ moment to discuss periods with your children. Don’t wait for one. Once they have touched the age of nine to ten years that is the time for them to know everything about the changes they will soon be experiencing. Bring up the topics now and then to help them understand the biological process. Take them along when you are purchasing sanitary and menstrual hygiene products to make them realize that it is as normal as shopping for any other items. Children nowadays are tech-savvy. Show them how they can buy sanitary pads online like any other product. Also, show them how to use the pads as well as how to change and dispose of the used ones. Keep a pack in their school bag along with a bunch of tissues and an extra pair of undergarments.
Apart from that, discuss the probable symptoms of menstruation such as mood swings, pimples, backache, cramps, lethargy, etc. Also, tell them what they can do to keep the pain and discomfort at bay such as performing light exercises, eating right, drinking a lot of fluids, using menthol, among others.
What if you don’t feel comfortable talking with your children about menstruation?
If you experience any trouble talking about periods with your children or you simply don’t feel comfortable no matter how hard you have tried, ensure that they get all the relevant information from a credible source. Perhaps reading a book or watching an educational video on the topic would make it easier for you to get the conversation started. Otherwise, consider asking your family physician, school counselor, or a trusted family member to talk with your children about the topic and help them understand.
What resources can help you talk about periods with your children?
Now, if you decide to talk to your children yourself and you need some aid to start the conversation and set the ball rolling, some extremely useful resources would help you in the journey. Some of them include:
Articles and blogs: The internet is a storehouse of valuable information. Many articles and blogs cover a wide range of topics on menstruation. Bookmark the most informative ones and keep them for the discussion.
Books: Apart from online articles, books are extremely effective to gain information and knowledge. The best part is the great ones can serve as excellent references in higher grades. If they are going to read about it anyway, they may as well start a bit early.
Educational videos: Although the first two resources can be extremely helpful in terms of giving in-depth knowledge, videos are an interactive and engaging way to understand more about the topic. You can find some useful videos for free on YouTube and other educational websites.
Do fathers need to be involved in the discussion about periods?
Of course. While mothers can teach from their own experience and prepare their children for their first periods, fathers can normalize the conversations about periods. They can play a huge role in dispelling the myths and stigma around periods and make the conversation feel extremely normal and comfortable.
Should parents have periodic conversations with their sons as well?
Yes, they should. By talking with their sons about periods, parents can normalize it and make it clear that it is not something to be brushed under the carpet. Not discussing with male children reinforces the unnecessary stigma around the topic. By making them aware of the normal biological condition, parents can help their sons to become considerate and empathetic brothers and friends. Once they understand, they will carry the learning forward and will become understanding husbands and fathers later in their lives.
Period is a completely normal and natural process and making children aware of it is extremely crucial for their mental and physical wellbeing. Therefore, parents must teach their young girls and boys about the process and bring a positive outlook. At Wonderize, we believe that all parents must have a period talk with their children and normalize it.