Puberty: We all know that it’s a tough phase as we’ve gone through it ourselves. It is that period when a boy/girl becomes mature sexually. The body of the child is now in the process of maturing into an adult one that is capable of sexual reproduction. It usually happens between ages 10 and 14 for girls and 12 and 16 for boys. This means that girls undergo the changes earlier than boys and it is not only important to tell your daughters about it, but also your sons in order to normalise it.
It is an uncomfortable topic for many, but it needs to be spoken about in order for children to understand their bodies better. Here’s how mothers and even fathers can make periods a lot less scary for their daughters and also sensitize their sons.
This largely depends on children. It is not a plan where you tell your child at a particular age. You need to broach the topic when the child begins to understand and question. A 5-year-old might ask you what a pad/tampon is. It is too young an age to understand and to give a detailed explanation, however, you can tell the child that women need to use this because every month they bleed a little. It is like a diaper that you put inside your panties.
However, some children may not ask these questions. In such cases, by the time they are 7, you can bring up the topic. You can sit them down and have a talk or even look for times when they ask about babies or the like.
If the child initiates the topic, ask him/her what they know about it. The next step would be to talk about periods in a matter-of-fact manner without any embarrassment. Talk about how a girl’s body and a woman’s body are different. Tell them how periods come when the body changes from a girl to a woman. The body is preparing to have a baby many years later and tell them that every month, the uterus wall comes off and bleeds a little. Women have to wear pads/tampons or cups so that they do not stain their clothes.
It is important to make them understand that this is a natural process and everyone goes through this.
How will you know when your daughter would start her periods? Physical changes are the first hint. A girl’s breasts usually start developing and it is usually followed by the growth of pubic hair. Soon after this, girls become taller, curvier and about a year later, their first period arrives.
It is usually the women who talk about periods, but we need to get the men involved! Even if they’ve never had a period, fathers can also participate in the conversation. They have also undergone changes as well. We want our daughters to be able to tell their fathers and even brothers about periods without being embarrassed or secretive. If you need them to buy you pads, there must be no hesitation!
Girls vs. Boys – While talking to children, also talk about how changes happen for boys too and how they grow hair on their faces and change their voices. They are just different from periods, but they too change.
Apart from telling them about periods/menstruation, girls must also be told about pads and tampon and other feminine-hygiene products. We must also prepare them for the discomfort that might come with periods. They should know that sometimes periods may cause cramps when the muscles of the uterus contract and that this is nothing to be ashamed about.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can also cause mood swings, irritability, tension, bloating, and breast tenderness in girls during/before the periods. Not everyone develops these, but if they do, then rest, exercise, and eating a balanced diet can help them.
Also, while talking about periods, children may imagine lots of blood and get scared. We must explain that the uterus is only the size of the fist and the lining of it is just the inside of that fist. The amount of blood is usually very little and they must not be scared.
If talking about it is embarrassing for you, then take help! Thanks to technology, there are some great videos that simplify it and help children understand about menstruation.
Even if you find the topic a bit weird, it is very important to talk to children about menstruation. The most important thing is that this should be done in an age-appropriate manner. We were also curious as children and it is better for our kids to get to know the truth about it from us rather than a third person who may not give them the correct information or even mislead them.