Talking to Your Children About Periods
Periods are no big deal. And it’s essential your child learns this so they don’t stress over what’s natural.
This is a discussion you want to get right - but you don’t need to be anxious. Treating it like any other conversation is key - and you’re a pro at frank talk already.
All you need is a little guidance ... read on and learn how to approach period chat with your child or teenager in a healthy and positive way.
When Should I Start the Conversation?
There’s no hard rule for when you can begin talking about periods with your children (yup even kids that won't get a period need to know this stuff)! It might be that they bring it up before you do!
Chances are, if they see a menstrual cup or other period product, they’re going to ask you: What’s that? That’s your cue to begin an open and honest dialogue about periods (we’ll talk about how in a few secs).
If your child is nearing seven and hasn’t yet brought up the topic, the onus is on you to kick things off. Because, while the average age for starting your period is 12, some people hit puberty as early as eight.
Broaching the subject before their first cycle ensures they’re prepared when their first period arrives. You could also give them period products to bring to school so they’re not caught unprepared away from home.
Which Period Product Should I Give My Child?
It all depends on what your child or teen is comfortable using. Younger babes usually prefer pads as tampons can be a bit daunting.
If your child has started their period, they can use a menstrual cup. This is a groovy option for teens because they can play sports at school without worrying about leakage.
To use a period cup, you need to be pretty clued-up on your anatomy. But not all teens want to chat about their body parts with their parents. To get around this, consider using our Anatomy 101 guide and either read it together or let your kid digest it in their own time.
How Should I Talk About Menstruation?
The number one thing to get right: use the correct terminology for body parts and processes.
Why? If you sugarcoat this discussion with euphemisms like ‘time of the month’, ‘down there’ or ‘the curse’, your child is going to get all kinds of mixed messages.
While these terms can be fun to use as an adult, they perpetuate the idea that periods are bad, scary and something to hide. Use them around your chicks and they might develop an unhealthy attitude towards their periods and their bodies - not good.
Here’s an example of what you could say instead:
“Every month, people with a uterus bleed from their vagina. It’s called a period. Menstrual products are used to catch the blood so it doesn’t go on your knickers.”
Of course, it’s not just girls that have periods. Transgender boys, agender people, non-binary people, and cisgender women can all bleed from their uterus.
If you want to chat about this with your child (which makes you freaking awesome, btw), why not read this article together? It tells you everything you need to know about periods and gender.
Do You Need to Keep Things ‘Age Appropriate?’
This is a phrase you need not fear. As long as you use the right terms for all things bodily, there’s no need to worry about saying too much - especially when it comes to periods.
As Bonnie J. Rough, author of Beyond Birds and Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids About Sex, Love, and Equality puts it:
“Children are very curious. Make use of that. Don’t be afraid you’ll say too much: a child grasps only what they’re ready for.’”
Does it Have to Be One Big Talk?
Nope. In fact, it’s much better to treat period talk with your children as a series of conversations. This way it doesn’t feel like one big scary moment.
Also, discussion is great but active normalization is heaps better. Periods are an accepted part of everyday human life and getting this message across is everything.
Hint: you could leave a menstrual cup or a pack of tampons in plain sight, rather than hiding them away in a bathroom cupboard. You could also talk about your own cycle to show you’re 100% comfortable with periods (remember to keep the language positive to avoid causing fear or confusion).
Liberate the Next Generation From Period Stigma
Empowering your precious babes with period positivity is mighty. You override the stigma and shame surrounding menstruation, encouraging children to see periods just as they are - 100% au naturel (and awesome!).
This small action can have an astronomical impact. When your sons and daughters grow up loving and respecting the human body, they develop healthier relationships with themselves and with others. And by normalizing periods and destabilizing stigma, we can help get the right information to those who need it most.