By Katie Moosbrugger
I was an early bloomer. If you know me, you’ll laugh when I tell you I actually had the biggest boobs in the fifth grade. For just being 11 years old, I remember it being a pivotal year with a lot of “firsts.” It was the first time I bought a bra. The first time I had a “crush” on a boy. The first time I learned how to do a back hand-spring. And it was also the first time I got my period.
I remember the day vividly. It was close to the end of the school year. I was crying in my parents’ bathroom while my mom was calmly teaching me how to use a maxi pad. Then the phone rang. It was my “crush” calling to talk, and I remember my mom saying I had just left to take the dog for a walk. It was mortifying and scary at the same time. I remember being angry that this was happening to me, God forbid. I remember a lot of things from that day but I don’t ever remember ever having “the period talk” with my mom.
Sorry, Mom! Maybe we did? Maybe I’m blocking it from my memory? Maybe it wasn’t a significant moment in my life? Maybe I just learned about menstruation a little bit here and there so a “talk” was never necessary? Or maybe we never had the “talk” until the day it all started?
Whatever the scenario, I turned out just fine. But at this day and age, I think it’s best to prepare BOTH mom and daughter for this momentous day.
So where do we begin? At what age do you start preparing your daughter? Do you wait until you start seeing signs of puberty? Do you tell her everything she needs to know in one sitting, or do you space it out over time?
I have heard that you if you wait until she gets her period to talk to her about menstruation, it’s too late. Oh, and if you forgot or need a refresher, I did read that a year after breast development begins, girls enter a phase of rapid growth where they grow taller and curvier. About one year after the growth spurt and about two and a half years after breast development starts, you can expect the first period to begin.
Here are some other “pointers” I found for those of you who may be readying for the “talk”…
1. Don’t save it all for one “talk,” but instead spread out your talks so it’s not overwhelming to your daughter.
2. Be as available as you can be to answer any questions that come up as your daughter nears the age of menstruation. Being proactive now can help ensure your child is getting the right information, and you can help make the experience positive for your daughter.
3. Add books or DVD’s to the conversations you have with your daughter. Believe it or not, I hear Judy Blume’s “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” is still a good book for girls ages 9 – 12. I also heard “The Period Book: Everything You Don’t Want to Ask (But Need to Know)” is a good one. Can you suggest any others?
4. Time your talks with the health lessons and sex education classes your child receives in school.
5. If you hear your child mention something related to getting a period or sex, ask questions. This is a good way to help debunk any misinformation your child may have received.
6. Ask your pediatrician for conversation starters and tips. Schedule a routine check-up for your preteen and have your doctor bring up the subject of menstruation. Give your daughter a heads-up that this topic will come up at the check-up, and ask her if she has any questions or concerns before she talks to the doctor.
* Some information on this topic came from KidsHealth.org.
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