This post contains affiliate links. This was originally posted in April, 2016.
The day your daughter starts her period for the first time can be confusing, exciting, scary, and happy all at once. Hello, welcome to being a woman!
In our family, when this momentous occasion occurs, mom and daughter go out for a private, simple celebration (think coffee and the best chocolate you can find) and a chance to chat. We’ve already prepared them with talks long before they start, we have supplies in the house, and no one is shocked or thinks they are dying because they know it’s coming.
However, there are some things to make sure your girl knows about this blessing/curse of life. Even if you’ve covered a lot of this, now is a good time for a refresher course.
Please note, the simple celebration should be separate from the “Period Talk.” Most girls aren’t too keen to sit and talk about tampons and heavy flow days in their local bakery. Even just sitting in the car afterwards while you giggle and talk about these points works just fine. Print out this list if you need to! (There’s a “print” button at the bottom of this post.) I actually had a post-it note with reminders for myself, that’s where this post came from 🙂
1. This is a perfectly natural part of life.
It’s nice to be reminded of this on a day when your daughter might be feeling insecure and worried. Remind her that a lot of girls her age may be having their period soon, if they haven’t already. If you can remember when you started, share with her about that day, or another story about having your period at her age. If you’re a Dad having this talk with her, share a funny or embarrassing story about something you went through at her age. It will help put her at ease.
2. Share different methods of protection.
Most girls are most comfortable with a simple maxi pad when they are first starting out. Hopefully, you’ve already shown her how to use one. At this time, make sure she knows that it needs to be changed around every four hours. Talk about the different “strengths” available in pads and how to choose the right ones on the right days. Make sure she knows how to dispose of pads, using the wrapper from the new one to wrap the older one before throwing in the trash. This is a good time to remind her that pads aren’t to be flushed.
3. Talk about tampons.
She probably doesn’t want to use tampons yet, so let her know that is okay. Never force your daughter to use tampons, as some conditions cause tampons to be extremely painful! So follow her lead in this case. And if she does want to use them and you think she is ready, make sure she knows how to use them properly and that they need to be changed every four hours as well. Let her know the risks of keeping one in for too long. Remind her that while tampon inserts can usually be flushed, the applicator should not.
4. Talk about different levels of flows.
While talking about pads and tampons, be sure she is aware that sometimes she will have a heavier flow than others. Make sure she knows that if a pad or tampon is filled to the max in an hour, she needs to let you or a doctor know right away.
5. Teach her how to track her cycle on the calendar.
Whether she has her own calendar or not, most girls might be a little embarrassed at this age to have their period tracked. Let her know she can use a little symbol instead to indicate when she starts and how many days her period lasts (a little circle, a heart, an x, whatever works). Over time, she may be able to predict when her period is coming and plan accordingly. An average cycle is 28 days, starting on the day your period begins and ending when it starts again. However…
6. Let her know that it is totally normal to be irregular, especially at her age.
Many girls will start their period and not get one again for six months. Most girls just starting out will not have 28 day cycles. Have her keep track and see if she can identify any patterns, and reassure her that in a couple of years she might be regular.
7. Make sure she is prepared.
Stock up on supplies and have her always keep 2 pads or tampons in her purse. One for her, and one for a friend that may need it. A cute zipped pouch works great for this. Here is a super cute one. By the way, make sure she has these in her purse as soon as you think she may be getting ready to start someday. It’s never too early to be prepared! Usually, her body will show signs she’s going through puberty before she starts her period. That’s the time to start being prepared!
She might also want to keep ibuprofen or essential oils in her purse if she is prone to bad cramps and is mature enough to handle her own dosing. Schools may not allow her to carry her own meds, so if that’s the case, make sure she knows to go to the nurse.
8. Talk about some symptoms she might experience and how to relieve them.
She may experience cramps, bloating, and irritability. Remind her these things are normal and share how you would treat each symptom. I talk more in depth about this in this post about dealing with your daughter’s hormones.
9. Reinforce good hygiene habits.
Hopefully at this age, your girl is taking good care of herself. But if she’s been slacking, now is the time to make sure she is showering regularly and keeping her whole self clean and odor-free. You may also want to make sure the bathroom trash is emptied more often during this time.
10. Teach her how to deal with laundry issues.
No matter how careful you are, sometimes stains happen. Have her set aside a set of undies for Period Week, so all of hers aren’t ruined, and teach her how to treat stains on clothing or bedding and to deal with them right away.
Bonus # 11. Love, Love, Love
Remember that this is a very confusing time for girls. There are so many natural changes going on in their life and their bodies, and their friends are likely going through it, too…You couldn’t pay me to go back to those days! Show your girl some extra love and encourage her as often as you can. A “we’re in this together” attitude will do wonders for your relationship! You may also want to read this: Raising a Sensitive Girl in a Mean Girl World.
The Only Book About Puberty That I Recommend for Girls
The Body Book, by Nancy Rue. Please get your girl this book! It shares everything she needs to know about this time in her life in an easy-to-read format and it’s all based on a Biblical perspective. I usually recommend saving a few bucks and checking books out from the library, but this is the kind of book your daughter will want and need as a go-to reference for a couple years to come. At the time of writing this, it’s only $4.89 on Amazon, but even at the full price of $9.99, it is more than worth it!
Any more tips for what to tell your daughter when she starts her period? Leave them in the comments below!
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