It so happened, that one day my daughter saw me take out a sanitary napkin from my cupboard. This was a year ago and she was 7 years at that time. She got curious and asked me, Mumma, why do you need a diaper?” “You are not a baby!”
I was anticipating the question to arise but wondered is it time already to initiate the conversation about menstruation as I was not sure how much would she be able to comprehend. While training to be a teacher we were taught to introduce a subject by moving from known to unknown facts and as she already knew that mummas make babies I felt that would be the right way to introduce the subject. I told her that mumma’s body makes eggs and papa’s body makes sperms. When sperms and eggs meet, babies are made. And when the sperm doesn’t meet the egg, it flows out of the body from the private part in form of blood. This happens every month for 5 days and mumma has to wear this sanitary napkin, which soaks the blood so that mumma doesn’t stain her clothes. Thankfully at that time she didn’t ask me how the sperm and egg meet, as I had not thought about how to address that query. And she was satisfied with the answer.
Educating about Puberty:
But now that she is 8, I want to talk with her about menstruation and puberty. However, I do not want to sit with her and lecture her on it as excessive information might be overwhelming for her. Puberty can be a very confusing stage in a young girl’s life. So I feel that the best way to prepare girls for puberty would be by educating her through a series of discussions from time to time.
Right Time to speak about Puberty:
Children are quite inquisitive by nature. Even toddlers have many questions pertaining to the body. Parents should consider each question about the body as an opportunity to give them information about the changes in the body that they will experience. However parents need not wait for the child to ask the question about puberty or menstruation. Ideally, by the time they’re close to puberty, both girls and boys should have full knowledge of the changes that will take place in their bodies.
Why should parents talk about puberty
Children ask questions to parents as they want to learn about most things from their parents. But they will also hear their friends discuss about these changes. That is the reason; parents should provide kids with relevant and accurate information and be able to sort out any misinformation. Children could be often scared or confused about puberty and menstruation and if they have incorrect information then that’s what they’ll believe.
Changes in body:
Each girl grows at her own pace but nowadays some girls do start puberty at the age of 8. Breast development is the beginning of puberty in girls. Almost a year, after breast development begins, girls enter into a phase of rapid growth. They will experience changes in body by growing tall and body will start taking a shape. The first period arrives about 2 and a half year after breast development. Once you start observing these changes in your daughter, you can talk to her about how she is growing up maybe while you are shopping for new clothes for her. Talk about how she will now grow taller very fast and that she will feel changes in her while trying out new clothes.
Ways to introduce Puberty:
Mothers can explain that monthly periods are a natural change in a woman’s body and a wonderful one as without them, women couldn’t become mothers. Few months back my friend took her daughter to watch the play “Growing Up” which was a novel manner to introduce puberty and menstruation to a child. You can alternatively also search for stories which talk about puberty or can make your own stories too.
Teaching children about puberty and menstruation should be an open, honest and continuous discussion. Most importantly, a parent must let children feel comfortable while discussing puberty.
How did you speak about puberty and menstruation to your child? At what age did you initiate the discussion?
Do share your views and experiences. Until then…