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How to Explain Menstruation

5 Tips For Talking to Your Daughter About Her Period

With some girls starting their period as young as 9-years-old, moms need to start having the period conversation early. But it can be an awkward subject to discuss, let alone just bring up out of the blue! Here's some advice from our readers on how to start talking to and preparing your daughter for her period.

1. Start Talking Early, and Talk Often

As one mom, Deanna J., points out, bathroom privacy for moms is a luxury. At some point, your child is likely to wander in while you're changing a sanitary pad or hunting for tampons. That's the moment to start talking to your daughter.

Several moms note that while starting the conversation can be tough, it's easier once you get going. Pam B. says menstruation is part of growing up and suggests talking about how it is natural and a sign that your daughter's body is changing (and will ultimately look more like yours) will put it in context for your daughter. 

2. Be Age-Appropriate, Not Evasive

It isn't uncommon to get caught off guard and unprepared to talk, as Cindy S. was when her 8-year-old was in the bathroom with her. She skipped the specifics "other then it happens once a month" and showed her daughter the feminine hygiene products she uses.

Brittany T. has already starting talking to her 4-year-old about "big girl" things without lying or misleading her. "I explain to her in a way that I feel is age appropriate," she says.

Both mothers have the right idea. Speaking more generally with younger children is better than giving them more information than they can process. The most important thing is to tell them something honest; being evasive adds a sense of secrecy that can make you and your daughter uncomfortable. 

Laura C.'s  philosophy is: "If they are old enough to ask then they deserve a truthful answer." She has been answering her preadolescent daughter's questions since she was 5.

3. Look For "Teachable Moments"

Those questions are "teachable moments." In the classroom, a teachable moment happens when an ideal situation arises in which to teach a concept or reinforce an idea. Teachable moments happen in real life, too. Grab on to them when you can! Leeann G. says she and her 11-year-old daughter have had dozens of "mini discussions" that often happen while watching TV or movies.

With the number of tampon ads on kids' TV channels and sexual content on shows you might not expect, there are plenty of opportunities to open a discussion with your daughter. It can happen as simply as asking her, "Do you know what product that commercial was selling?"

4. Ask Questions 

Once puberty approaches, it's time to talk more seriously. While some girls start developing breasts as early as 8, most seem to do so between the ages of 9 and 11. Many moms suggest talking to girls in this age range in very simple terms, explaining that soon she will begin to menstruate or "get her period" and to discuss what that means practically as well as what's happening physically.

It's possible she already knows more than you think, but don't assume what she knows is correct. Asking her what she already knows can help you avoid some of the eye-rolling and "Mo-om, I already know that!" reactions so common with preteen girls. It also gives you the chance to correct information she's gotten wrong or, as Farrah A. puts it, catch her "before [she] gets different versions and becomes confused."

5. Answer Unasked Questions

Quite a few moms rue that they never had a "period talk" with their own mothers and wish they had known more about what was happening to them. Your daughter will wonder a lot, too, but may not feel comfortable asking about what she's truly wondering. Opening up a dialogue about your own experiences can help draw out her unasked questions. Here are some ways to do this:

  • "Sometimes I get cramps and . . ."
  • "When I was your age, I started my period at school. What would you do if that happened?"
  • "A lot of young girls keep a calendar because when your period starts, it's not always that regular."

How did you prepare your daughter for her period?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Image Source: Thinkstock
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CoMMember13630575134371 CoMMember13630575134371 4 years
Shani - What I don't understand is what lie you come up with that is less disturbing than the truth? My daughter knows that I bleed regularly and that it is normal for a woman to do so and that she will do so one day to when she grows up. What does that have to do with sex???
MaryEllenHoppenjans MaryEllenHoppenjans 4 years
My daughter was two when she walked in on me changing a tampon. I gave her a simple answer and she was ok with that. She is now going on five and if she sees me packing tampons into my purse she asks "Is it that girly time of the month?" and when I say yes, she forgets all about it. Hopefully with her having an early understanding that its normal and its no big deal, then she wont be so scared when hers starts in a few years
LeahWilson LeahWilson 4 years
and also i dont think a four yearold will dwell on an honest answer and go around worrying about her uterus sloughing out every month. They are curious they will ask questions, get answers, and move on. Like i said my daughter knows about sex, i caught her masturbating at 1 and 1/2 years old. If you make a big deal about these kinds of things then so will your kids. I told my daughter it's ok to do that in private, in the bath or in your room with the door shut, it's ok but it's private. If i told her it was bad dont do it, then 1st of all she would want to do it more, and second of all she would feel guilty for exploring her own body. How is she going to learn what is normal and natural as opposed to when something is wrong with her body if she doesnt check it out. I dont feel that she does it to be sexual because although she understands that mommies and daddies sometimes do things in private to show they love each other or to try to make babies, she doesnt understand what being sexual is. I will not deprive my child of learning simply because i'm afraid her perfect little bubble full of barbies and rainbows will be bursted, cuz guess what it will be burted one day. She does not go around all the time worrying about sex, babies, vaginas, penises(although she knows what they are she saw daddy peepeeing one day and wanted to know what it was and why he was standing up, we said boys are made differently, they have penises and it is easier for them to peepee standing up. Her reply 'oh, ok' and she hasnt said much about it since other than the occasional 'mom boys have penises right'), or other "adult matters".she is more worried everyday about dora or riding her bike or playing with her "petshops". Having this knowledge does not take away the enchantment of being a child or make them agrow up too soon. Simply, children are curious about the things they see and hear, just as you are when you see or hear something new. Your reaction will determine how your child may feel about certain topics when they are older.
LeahWilson LeahWilson 4 years
i have something to say to the moms who don't think young children "deserve" a truthful answer: young children are people too. If they are old enough to be curious, they are old enough for an answer. What will your child think when they find out the truth and realize that you didn't feel they deserved to hear it from you. Telling your child the age appropriate truth is not robbing them of their innocence, it's teaching them about life, the life that they are living. You don't wake up an adult one day and have to deal with life all of a sudden, you gradually learn and grow into an adult. If some of us feel that our children are mature enough to understand a basic truthful answer about their own bodies, why are we wrong for telling them? Think about it this way, if you were 15 and went to the dr and the dr found that you would never be able to have children and didnt tell you this info because he didnt think you were old enough, how would you feel? Its the same concept we would be robbing our children of information regarding their bodies. It is their right to have this information if they want it. If they ask us for it, it is not our right to tell them you are not old enough to know. My daughter knew what a vagina was at age 2, because she asked. It is the proper term and is present on every female on the earth, why does she not deserve to know what her body part is? Do i reserve the right as a parent to not tell her that her feet are called feet or her arms are called arms? Periods and sex are a part of life. Everyones lives. My child is not old enough to have a job, pay bills, or drive a car but she knows that grownups work, pay bills, have driver's licenses, put gas in their cars, and drive. She is not old enough to cook but she knows all about it. Are you honestly saying that because a child is not old enough for something to happen, then she should not know about it. My daughter is 3 now and knows the basics about sex and where babies come from because with all the tv, music, and people in the world she has overheard the word and wanted to know what it was, so i told her in terms she can understand. She has never seen anyone with a period (i dont have one) so she hasnt asked about it, but when she does ask or ask about those feminine product commercials, i will tell her no matter how young she is. Children have a God given right to be given an honest answer at their level of understanding. Even if it is simply "grownup women bleed sometimes and its natural and we can discuss it more when you are a little older." why would you hide something natural from your child, if you lie or avoid the question, your kid will feel like something completely natural and unavoidable is something bad or shameful or something to be embarrased about. Nobody should want this for their children. If you don't feel your child is old enough to understand, then by all means say "i dont feel you are old enough to understand, we will talk about it when you are older" there is nothing wrong with this answer. Its honest ad tells your child that you are not avoiding the subject because its bad or shameful, but because you don't feel they are old enough. But don't chastise those of us who feel our children are mature enough for a truthful answer. If we feel they are ready to know, then we are obligated to tell them. It is our job as their parents.
egohaslanded egohaslanded 4 years
My daughter is 11 and i cant ever remember a time when i had privacy! I would be going to the bathroom and she would no doubt come in to talk to me. She told me the other day she needs reading material in the bathroom and often reads my tampon box. I have always been open about body functions and she is not scared. I told her not to feel shy about it no girl in your class will escape having her "period" and its normal ! I also add a bit of humor and it makes her feel easy about talking to me.
CatherineWatson13331 CatherineWatson13331 4 years
My daughter is 4 and I believe in honest, age-appropriate responses to all questions. When she has seen that I am bleeding in the bathroom, I have explained that I'm not hurt, the blood is completely normal and it's something that happens to grownup women. When she is older, I will give her more information as I feel she is ready for it. So far, it works well to answer her questions, but even if she never asks another question on the subject, I'll make sure I've fully explained the process to her when she is 8. While I didn't get my period until I was 12, I'm aware that many children are starting at 9 now.
RebeccaHealy RebeccaHealy 4 years
My daughter is three, and with no concept of privacy has walked in on me several times. I kept it very basic, I said sometimes mummy bleeds, but it doesn't hurt me and will go away soon. I think going into the reasons why I bleed is a bit much for her right now, I'm comfortable with the fact that she understands that sometimes mummies bleed and that is normal. My son is almost five and understands I have 'bleeding times'. My main concern was that they understand that I was not hurt and this was normal. I got my period when I was 11, and my mother never talked to me before or after it happened. I like that I am building the knowledge of my children in such a way, so they gradually come to understand and not fear their bodies, without overwhelming them
KatrinaClarkYoung KatrinaClarkYoung 4 years
To all you moms out there who believe that their girl should be 9-10 before "the Talk"- what will you do if your daughter starts her period at that age and has no idea what is going on?! Girls are starting younger & younger, it is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. SHAME ON YOU
KatrinaClarkYoung KatrinaClarkYoung 4 years
My daughter starting developing very early and we started conversations about periods around the age of five to six. I did not want her to be surprised when the time came. She had her first period two months before her 10th birthday, and she wasn't scared or confused. I wouldn't have changed a thing.
JaymiSmith92349 JaymiSmith92349 4 years
My daughter and I have a planned trip next month for a getaway weekend to talk about puberty. I want to make it fun and talk about growing up. She is 9. I plan on giving her basic information and letting her ask questions if she wants. I don't want her to be blindsided if she starts early. I started my period at age 10.
ChristinaShepherd67805 ChristinaShepherd67805 4 years
I’ve had a hysterectomy and have no way to have a teachable moment that is traditional so I have to just start talking about the subject with her this year so she isn’t blindside as I was on a vacation, one of the worst moments in my life that I wish hadn’t happen.
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