First periods can be both an exciting and scary time for a young girl. I distinctly remember the day I got my first period. I was 11 years old and spending the night at a friend's house. We were playing with our dolls and pretending they got their first period. The next morning, I woke up with mine. I was beyond excited about it. I was becoming a woman and thought it was the coolest thing ever.
My mom played a big role in making sure that my first experience was a positive one. She prepared me for its arrival by talking to me about menstruation and answering all my questions. I'm grateful that she took the time to explain to me what to expect and made me look forward to it.
With my own two daughters, I'm following in my mom's footsteps by educating them and ensuring they are ready for its arrival. I have some tips to share with you about how to talk to your daughter about her first period. These tips are based on my own personal experience and what has worked for me with my girls.
1. Brush up on the topic first before you chat
You'll want to give yourself a quick refresher about menstruation so you can explain how it works and answer questions that might pop up. I learned about it as a young girl, but didn't remember all the specific details. Go online to a reputable website and read over how it works. The more comfortable you feel about the information, the smoother the conversation will go.
2. Find a relaxed and comfortable place to chat
It's best if you can start the conversation where its just the two of you without interruption. I found it easier to talk to my daughter in her room when I was tucking her in for the night. She was relaxed and open to the information and there were no distractions from the TV or tablets.
3. Watch for cues to naturally bring up the subject
Maybe you'll see a commercial on the TV about pads or tampons and you can ease into the conversation that way. My oldest daughter saw a package of tampons in the bathroom and asked what they were for. It was a natural segue into having the period talk.
4. Ask your daughter what she already knows about periods
Chances are, your daughter may have already heard about periods from friends at school. You've brushed up on the subject so you can provide her with correct information if what she heard isn't completely true.
5. Talk about your own first period experience if it's a positive one
I find if you open up first, it makes it easier for the other person to do the same. I shared my story and we had a chuckle about the doll getting her period and the next day I got mine.
6. Be open to her questions and find out the answers for anything you don't know
Tell her to ask whatever questions she has, no matter how stupid or silly she thinks they might be! If one of the questions stumps you and you aren't sure of the right answer, go look it up later on and get back to her with the answer.
7. Use tools to aid the conversation, but not replace it
Books, videos and reputable websites can add value to the discussion, but they should not be the sole driver of it. You and your daughter's dialogue should be! I have a couple books about getting your first period that my daughters have read.
8. Prepare for its arrival by buying the supplies she'll need
My daughter had anxiety about getting her first period while she was at school and not knowing what to do. We ran through a "what if" scenario talking about the steps she should take if it happens there. I made her a small care package of period supplies to keep in the bottom of her school bag just in case. She told me she feels better knowing it's there if she needs it.
9. Talk to your daughter about tampons and how they work
Tampons can be intimidating for a young girl. I remember how unsure I was at first to try them. I didn't really understand where they were supposed to go and was worried they would hurt. My mom bought me a box of tampons and went over the instructions that came in the box. She said with practice, I'd eventually get more comfortable doing it. She was right and I got to be an old pro with a bit practice.
I showed my daughter the videos where two young girls are sharing information about tampons and how they work. The goal here is to increase her confidence and ease her fears. I also opened up a box of tampons so she could see what they look like.
10. Celebrate the special occasion when it arrives
Give your daughter something to look forward to when the day comes. Talk about some fun ideas you can do together to celebrate, whether it's going out for ice cream, having a movie night or dining at her favorite restaurant. Make it a happy memory for her and one she can look back on and smile.
Talking with your daughter about her first period may be a little nerve-wracking because you are worried you are going to say the wrong thing. Don't worry about that! Be open. Be available. Be willing to listen. I found it helped strengthen the mother-daughter bond to open up about such a personal topic. Know that there isn't anyone else but you that she'd rather learn about this momentous time in her life! Treasure the memories and celebrate her becoming a woman.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Stacie Vaughan's website. It has been modified and republished here with permission.