My Daughter Got Her Period at Age 10 — Here's Why She Didn't Freak Out (and Neither Did I!)
For anyone who knows me, I love to talk about periods! I even started talking to my kids about it as early as they could walk — heck they were following me any time I went to the bathroom (#momlife), so I figured I might as well explain to them what they saw. I didn't want them to be scared or freaked out about it (like I was), and thankfully, when my daughter got her period early at age 10, she was excited and proud. A true parenting success story! Here's how I prepared her for her first period and what we did to make it an awesomely positive experience.
How to Talk to Your Kid About Periods
Sadie was always a very curious little kid, interested in animals and science, and she loves to read, so I got her the first Celebrate Your Body book ($9) when she was 8 years old. She carried it everywhere with her, slept with it, and she even brought it to school in third grade, when she was 9. I actually got a phone call from her teacher that she was "showing pictures of vaginas to her classmates" (it was a diagram showing how to use a tampon). That sparked an important conversation about how some people feel really embarrassed talking about body stuff, but I kept flooding her with the message that it's totally normal and totally awesome that her body is growing and changing. But from that point on, we agreed that body talk was for families and best talked about at home.
This book helped spark some other really essential conversations about the changes her body would go through. It covered all the basics, including how her breasts would grow and when to start wearing a bra, pubic hair, vaginal discharge, what age most girls get their periods (it's between 9 and 16, by the way), menstrual products, PMS, the importance of taking care of yourself through sleep, exercise, and eating a healthy, balanced diet, and also body positivity and why she shouldn't diet (this was my fave part!).
I got Sadie the Celebrate Your Body Book 2 ($12) when she was 9 because she was just so interested. It covers the same topics as the first book, but goes into a little more detail. I was excited to see that she was so open to talking about this. She'd ask me to put her to bed just about every night so we could read the book together and "have girl talk." Yep, that's also when she finally asked the question, "How does the baby get inside your belly?" Sadie knew more about sex and bodies at 9 years old than many adults I know.
The most important thing is that I didn't act nervous or secretive about any of this. I'm not going to lie — it was hard talking about some of this (like the time she asked, "How many times have Daddy and you had sex?"). But with every question and comment, I promised to be open and honest, and that set the tone for what her first period would be like.
How to Prepare For Your Child's First Period
I started to notice Sadie's body begin to change around age 9 — she had small breast buds and could no longer just wear a T-shirt. I also noticed a few pimples on her face, discharge on her undies when I did the laundry, and she had pubic hair by the time she was turning 10. She's old for her grade, so none of her classmates were going through these changes. I talked to her doctor about it, and he said that within one year of noticing pubic hair, you can expect her period.
She was looking forward to this special day so much that the night before she turned 10 she said, "Wouldn't it be great if I got my period for my birthday?!" I knew she was excited to experience all we had talked about, but deep down I was thinking, "F*ck no! You're still my baby, and having your period actually sucks!" I also thought back to the time when she was 5 months old and had to stay in the hospital for almost a month because she was having seizures that made her stop breathing. She made a full recovery, and here she was, almost 10 and talking about getting her period! I just smiled and said, "I'm sure you have another year to go."
Well, without me knowing, she was preparing! In her room one day, I noticed this little box she made, where she collected some of the things I got for her. She had a few pads, period undies, a couple tampons (even though I told her she wouldn't use those for a while), and a little gold necklace that's actually a tampon holder. She was ready!
My Daughter Got Her Period at Age 10
I'm so glad I talked to Sadie about her period at such a young age, because one morning a few months after her 10th birthday, she called me from the bathroom to show me her undies. There was a dark red spot, and we just looked at each other and I said, "Do you know what this means? You got your first period!!" I hugged her and she was beaming with excitement! It was such a special moment that I'll never forget.
Then, my 8-year-old son, who happened to be brushing his teeth in the bathroom, yelled to my husband, "Sadie got her period!" I walked out of the bathroom, and my husband just looked shocked, and we both teared up. We instantly had a flashback to when she was sick in the hospital. Back then, we didn't even know if she'd be able to talk or walk, and here she was, totally healthy, getting her period, and growing up perfectly. It was an emotional moment.
I was in shock, too, because honestly, I wasn't expecting this until she was at least 12 (I was 13 when I got my first period). But I knew from talking to fellow moms that many kids get their periods early, and acting happy and excited was key to making her first period a positive experience.
I was so glad it happened right before leaving for school so she wasn't alone – if it had happened just an hour later when she was at school, without any pads or clean undies — and no one to talk to — it probably would have been scary instead of exciting. I gave her the choice to stay home, but she was so jazzed up and feeling proud, she wanted to go to school. I showed her how to put on a pad, packed a few pads in her backpack, and she was off.
How to Celebrate Your Child's First Period
I was emotional the whole day and couldn't wait until she got home to see how her day was. My husband bought her flowers, gave her the biggest hug, and said he was so happy for her. I took her to the store to buy her a little present (she picked out some yarn because she just learned to knit), and our neighbors made her a "welcome to womanhood" card and gave her a handmade bracelet. A friend at Thinx also sent her a cute little first period kit.
My dad's reaction was actually my favorite because I don't remember him saying one word to me when I got my period, but it was his idea to send Sadie flowers and a sweet note.
After baking a celebratory cake, she wanted to call my husband's family to share her exciting news — it was her idea, and our family is so open, I knew they'd be excited for her. She didn't feel quite comfortable telling everyone herself and wanted me to say the words, but she loved seeing everyone's reactions — they were so happy and supportive of her.
It was so awesome to see everyone making this such an awesome, positive experience. One relative did make a comment like, "Oh that's really young," and I didn't want Sadie to feel self-conscious or upset at all, so I quickly commented, "Yeah some girls get it as early as 9, so Sadie was just lucky!" She couldn't stop smiling, and I just felt so proud that I nailed this part of parenting!
How to Make Your Child's Period Awesome
After all the flowers and exciting phone calls, the reality of what it meant that Sadie got her period so early set in. She was lucky that it happened so calmly and neatly at home, but that's not always the case — periods can get messy! I knew the best thing we could do was to be prepared.
I made Sadie a little period pouch to keep in her school backpack that had a pair of period undies and a few different-sized pads. I also packed an extra pair of undies and leggings, just in case she leaked at school. I put a pad in the inside pocket of her winter coat, and bought her a calendar so she could chart her cycle. I also have an app on my phone to track her period, just so I know what day to start expecting it.
A few friends shared that their daughters' periods were very irregular in the beginning (one got her period at age 9 and then didn't get it again until 16), so I talked to Sadie about it, just so she wasn't worried if it came early or late. We also talked about the adults she can go to at school, like her fourth-grade teacher (who I shared the news with), her school counselor, and the nurse.
I know talking about periods isn't the most comfortable thing in the world, but think back to what your first period was like. Was it memorable because it was so terrifying? Or was it a good experience because you were prepared and knew what was happening? I know that talking so openly about her period is what helped Sadie and I not freak out when it actually happened.
I knew girls could get their periods as early as 9, but I honestly thought Sadie wouldn't get hers until she was 13, like I was. Never in a million years did I think she'd get hers in fourth grade! So, take this as a little nudge to start the conversation today, so your child can be just as prepared and excited as Sadie was. It's in your hands whether this is an awful experience or an awesome one!