Girls are beginning puberty earlier than a generation ago, so talking to your daughter about her first period sooner rather than later can help her develop strong body confidence as she enters this time of change.
Before raising the subject of menstruation, it’s a good idea for you to be clear on the basics. For most girls, the signs of their first period appear between the ages of 8 and 14. The average length of menstruation is five days but this can vary widely. A typical monthly cycle is 28 days but it can last anywhere between 22 and 40 days; however, the first few years of menstruation usually don’t follow a regular pattern.
Every girl is different and it’s normal if your daughter doesn’t fall exactly into these timelines. What’s important to understand is that this will all be new for her, and this ‘coming of age’ can have an impact on her self-esteem and body confidence, especially if she feels alone or unaware. By being informed yourself, you’ll have a better chance of helping her navigate these changes and be comfortable in her changing body.
First period symptoms
Your daughter’s first period may happen when she starts to develop breasts, grow pubic or underarm hair or experience white or yellowish vaginal discharge. You may also notice changes in her behaviour, such as increased moodiness or argumentativeness. These changes are often the result of her body producing reproductive hormones, preparing her body for the possibility of pregnancy. Talk with your daughter about these signs before she starts her period. Some girls aren’t aware of the pre-cursors to menstruation, and it can be disconcerting if she doesn’t know what to expect. By discussing these first period symptoms, she can be prepared for what’s to come, which can help her feel more in control.
How to help your daughter with her first period
For some parents, raising the issue is the hardest part, but starting the conversation early can help your daughter manage these changes with minimal impact to her self-esteem. Your first instinct may be to sit your daughter down for a serious discussion about getting her first period. However, it might be less nerve-wracking for you both – and easier for your girl to digest the information – if you weave the topic into day-to-day conversations. Psychologist Dr Tara Cousineau says: “It’s always wise for parents to prepare their girls for puberty by having many conversations about it before menstruation occurs, so they are emotionally prepared as well as practically prepared (with feminine products in their backpacks).”
There is no right way to launch the discussion, but one good place to start is…
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