andriano_cz/Fotolia

7 Ways To Talk To Your Daughter About Periods That She Won't Think Are Awkward

Ad failed to load

When she's little, it can feel like you're a lifetime away from having "the talk" with your daughter. Who has time to worry about the onset of puberty when you're in the thick of potty training, tantrums, and sleep issues? However, you've probably heard Gretchen Rubin's quote: "the days are long but the years are short." Before you know it, it's time to think about ways to talk to your daughter about periods. According to WebMD, "most girls start developing breast buds sometime between age 9 and 10" and the onset of menstruation occurs about two years later.

Recently I attended a party where "the period talk" came up in conversation. I listened raptly as mothers whose girls are older than mine discussed a close call with a first period on vacation. We also talked about what to tell younger girls when they want to know what that box of tampons or pads under the sink is for. The bottom line is that we all want to be honest, but not before our daughters are ready to hear about it, and we want to discuss menstruation in as non-embarrassing and non-awkward a way as possible. Whether this conversation is still a few years off for you and your daughter, or needs to happen tomorrow, Romper talks to three pediatricians about the best, and not at all awkward, ways to broach the topic.

Ad failed to load

1Include Her First Period In General "What To Expect" Health Discussions

Giphy

Kansas City, Missouri Pediatrician Natasha Burgert, MD, FAAP, tells Romper, "I want my families and my patients to know that talking about how our bodies change is normal, healthy conversation. I usually bring up the topic at the 8 or 9-year-old visit. We talk about what to expect as we grow, including healthy food choices, good sleep, personal hygiene, friendships, media, and time with family. These topics naturally lead into questions about future changes, like the first period."

Pediatrician Catherine Gritchen, M.D., of Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Long Beach, California, tells Romper she usually brings up menstruation at the 11-year-old visit unless parents ask for an earlier conversation or the patient's development necessitates it. She starts with questions like, “You are at the age where some girls are starting to notice some body changes. Have you noticed any body changes? Do you have any questions about puberty or body changes?"  

When you bundle menstruation with other health topics, you present it as a normal part of growing up instead of something embarrassing or shameful.

2Go Shopping Together For Supplies

Giphy

This is another way to normalize periods for your daughter. Make your trip to the store a fun outing to stock up on sanitary napkins, tampons, Advil, a heating pad — whatever supplies you want your daughter to use when the time comes. Instead of being embarrassed to bring period supplies to the cash register, you can show her it's not a bigger deal than buying shampoo or anything else at the drugstore.

Burgert says the most common question she hears from parents about their daughter's first period is "When?" She adds that "it's the anxiety of not knowing exactly when the first period will start that troubles most families. Every person's body gives clues, but I can't promise they won't get their first period at school, or at a friend's house." Regardless of where or when it happens, your daughter will be prepared with the supplies she needs.

For the next best thing to a crystal ball, Pediatrician Gina Posner, M.D., of Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, adds that the age when Mom started menstruating can be a clue to the timing of her daughter's first period.

3Be The First One To Ask Questions

Giphy

Instead of having one big talk, Burgert advises parents to "talk frequently and often in small chunks. Don't overwhelm. Most importantly, honestly answer the question asked." Burgert says you can also make the first move with questions by using media such as tampon commercials to find out what your daughter already knows, as well as any misinformation she might be getting from friends or the internet. Ensuring that your daughter understands her body will make the topic of periods less awkward for both of you.

It's also helpful to accentuate the positive, says Posner, who tells parents not to "just talk about all the bad things — cramping, bleeding, but also the exciting things — developing into a woman, the fact that you can have children in the future, etc."

Ad failed to load

4Distinguish Period Conversations From "The Sex Talk"

Giphy

"Body development and puberty is an entirely different subject than sexuality," says Burgert. "Often parents shy away from body changes because they are not ready for the 'sex talk.'" However, "most young girls are not interested in sexuality until puberty changes have come and gone," she notes, so "don't be fearful to introduce this subject with confidence."

5Let Your Daughter Learn On Her Own

Giphy

Gritchen suggests that some girls may be most comfortable learning at a self-guided pace and asking questions as they arise. This can relieve some embarrassment for both parent and daughter. Gritchen says, "I encourage them [parents] to get their child a general resource book and some menstrual supplies that they can review at their own pace. No matter how open of a relationship they may have, sometimes the girls may be more comfortable learning on their own. I also suggest the idea of a shared mother-daughter journal to pass back and forth with questions or comments.  Sometimes this is easier than talking directly, especially in a very busy household, or if mom or daughter is very shy."

6Involve Other Women In The Conversation

Giphy

Gritchen suggests that "it can also be helpful to identify together other 'safe' adult women that the child can talk to if mother is not available at the moment, or your daughter simply prefers to talk with someone else. An older sister, auntie, grandma, stepmom, or friend’s mom may be a good resource. This is especially helpful in divorced families, single father families, or in grandparent-led families."

Ad failed to load

7Use Books & Other Resources

Giphy

Learning about puberty from a book is a classic approach, whether you read it with your daughter or let her read it on her own and follow up with questions. The internet also has great resources — just make sure you screen them yourself first before sharing them with your daughter. Here are the pediatricians' favorites:

  • American Girl's Care and Keeping of You, Volumes One and Two
  • "Physical Development In Girls: What To Expect" from Healthychildren.org (a website by the American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Parenting your Teenager by the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • I’m a Girl, Hormones! by Dr. Shelley Metten

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

A Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the te…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

These Photos Of North West Then & Now Will Take You On A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

When Kim Kardashian welcomed her first daughter, North West, with her husband, Kanye West, in 2013, her whole life was changed. The social media and reality TV star became a mom for the first time and her Instagram presence took a very adorable turn.…
By Casey Suglia

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

This Is What It Means If Your Pregnancy Test Changes Overnight

The time between when a woman suspects she might be pregnant and when it is confirmed for sure is the longest of her life. Regardless of whether you are hoping for a positive or a negative result, the odds are good that you are sweating bullets when …
By Shannon Evans

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack