It’s one of parenthood’s most anticipated-yet-feared moments: your child starting their first period. What are some tips and tricks for ensuring that they have the best experience possible?
- Start early. Whether they’ve actually started their period or not, there’s a lot to learn and talk about beforehand. While most of the “details” will be covered in school health classes, providing open lines of communication for questions and discussion is key. Researching product options together is a great way to boost confidence. Above all, openly talking about your own period (if you have one) is one of the most positive things you can do to normalize menstruation and set the standard for open period talk.
- Be positive. Periods may not be the most fun or convenient things in the world, especially for active kids, however a good attitude can go a long way towards making the experience as easy as possible. How does your child feel about menarche and puberty in general? There is lots of opportunity for body- and period-shame to creep in near the onset of menstruation: nip it in the bud by making it clear that it’s a safe and even fascinating topic to explore.
- Encourage body literacy. Confidently using clear & direct terms for anatomy – like vulva, vagina, clitoris, labia, etc – can go a long way to decrease shame and discomfort. Purchase a small hand mirror and encourage self-discovery – this will make future tampon or menstrual cup use much less scary. Another important distinction to make is between periods and the full menstrual cycle: all too often the former grabs all of the attention, when it’s only part of a bigger picture: encourage your child to tune into their body at all times of the month: our full menstrual cycle is about so much more than just periods.
- Go natural. Like many other personal care habits that will last a lifetime (or at least most of one!), it pays to start off on the right foot with organic or reusable products. Due to their still-immature immune systems, adolescents are the most vulnerable candidates for Toxic Shock Syndrome, a rare yet extremely serious condition most commonly associated with tampon use. While internal products are the only option for swim practice (so far!) choose organic or talk about menstrual cups as a potential alternative.
- Be prepared. First periods can be erratic and unpredictable: kit out your kid with a small stash of products and extra underwear for their backpack and locker, and consider keeping a small kit in your own bag and/or vehicle. We recommend Teeny Pantyliners for spotting, Mini Pad & Inserts for average flow, and ARTEMIS leak-proof underwear for those “just in case” days, or as backup with Lunapads or disposable products. Be sure to also pick up a reusable carry bag to transport fresh and used supplies.
- Consider celebrating. If it feels right, have a celebration to commemorate this momentous transition. While “First Period Parties” have recently (and sadly, in our opinion) been mocked in the mainstream media, Rite of Passage events have occurred at adolescence throughout history and around the world. Do some research to learn about various traditions, and collaborate on personalizing their celebration. While not specifically a first period event, if there happens to be a G Day for Girls event in your community, send your daughter! It’s a wonderful way to welcome her into this new phase of life, whether she’s started her period or not.