Talking about periods or growing up may feel a daunting task. Many fear the topic as it may feel uncomfortable. Children especially are likely to be feeling anxious about changes they are experiencing or changes they know are about to happen and will be seeking out information to ease these anxieties. Although they may not admit it, they will want to hear what you have to say.
They probably already know a little
If you are afraid about worrying your child by bringing up these topics, remember that they are likely to have already heard about these changes from their peers, at school or through the media. The information they hear at school or amongst their peers may not be the most accurate or calming and so this should be an encouragement for you to share accurate and honest information with them.
Finding ways to talk about periods in a positive, open, and honest way will make their experience of starting their period less stressful. This blog will share some tips and advice from us. It’s important to remember though that every child and every parent child relationship is unique. Use your own amazing initiative to adapt this information to fit your context.
Avoid “The Talk”
Talking about periods, puberty or sex with your children should not be one singular and isolated event. Drop the drama around “the talk”. The ‘talk’ as depicted in the media puts a whole lot of pressure on one single conversation.
Rather than a talk focus on creating an ongoing process of honesty. For example; even if your child is very young but finds tampons explain what they are honestly. If a tampon or pad advert comes on the TV use it as an opportunity to start the conversation.
Ideally, these conversations should happen early before they have their periods. Earlier on discussions will be focussed more on the questions they have. Later, it will give them an opportunity to voice their own concerns or questions.
- Use clear language like vagina and vulva to avoid confusion, misconceptions or taboo to our body parts.
- Avoid Euphemisms.
- Keep things positive.
- Highlight that periods are completely natural part of growing up.
- Do not dodge questions or avoid the conversation- this can make children think things are off limits.
- Stay calm with your voice, reactions, and expressions.
- Focus in on “normal”- reassure your children that all these changes are normal, and their feelings of anxiety or stress are also normal.
- You do not need to know it all- You do not need a rehearsed lecture, just make sure to answer as well as you can and if you do not know, be honest, circle back later with other resources to help answer them.
Talking to Everyone
- This should be a conversation for girls and boys as it crucial that both learn about these changes and are comfortable with these topics.
- By discussing periods openly to everyone it will help remove the shame and stigma that surrounds periods.
- Focus on honesty, do not hide period products, and answer any questions they may have.
Discuss some of the symptoms of periods to help them understand what people with periods go through. Explain that it’s important for boys and girls to support each other through puberty and be mindful of each other’s feelings.
FAQs about starting their periods
Floco deliver workshops to schools. We get lots of anonymous questions and direct questions from students worried about starting their period. Here are some of the most asked questions that can help guide your conversation.
- How will I know when my period is going to start?
Impossible to pinpoint exactly and everyone is different. Typically, you get your period 2 years after breasts start to form and a year after you start experiencing discharge. Other signs include you have grown underarm and pubic hair. The average age to start is 12 however this varies.
- Why has my period not started yet?
We are all wonderfully unique and go through puberty at different rates. People tend to start their period between the ages of 10 and 16, 2 years after you start puberty.
Some people do have a delayed periods due to reasons such as being underweight, doing a lot of exercise, stress, or hormone imbalances. It is important however, to visit a GP if you have not started your period by 16.
- How painful are periods?
Periods cramps are sadly a common side effect of periods. Cramps can occur in your lower stomach, lower back, or thighs. These can be relieved by using painkillers, heat (hot baths or hot water bottles) light exercise, herbal teas etc. Periods cramps should not cause debilitating pain. If your period pain is stopping, you living your day to day life you should visit a GP or nurse.
- How much blood will I lose?
It may seem like a lot, but you do not lose that much blood. On average you will lose about 3-5 tablespoons. Bleeding on your period is not a constant flow, sometimes it is lighter, sometimes it is heavier. You will most likely just notice this as a reddish stain on your pants or sheets.
- What product should I use?
This is complete personal choice. There are a range of products available including disposable period pads, tampons, reusable period pads, period underwear and menstrual cups or discs. Make sure you share information about each product and stress that they are free to change products and 'shop around' to find the right fit for them. Floco have designed comfy reusable period pads - these can be a great way to get used to reusable period products.
- Can a tampon get stuck?
A tampon cannot get lost inside you- there is nowhere for it to go. The only other opening to the vagina is through the cervix at the top of the vagina, however it is too small for a tampon to pass through. When you insert a tampon, it stays in your vagina. The chances of the string coming off a tampon are very small. If it were to happen, you would just insert your fingers to remove it. If you are unable to do this you would just go to a GP, nurse or health professional and they can remove it for you. Trust us- it will not be the first time they have done this!
Did you know that Floco design and deliver workshops focussed on periods and puberty to schools throughout the UK? You can learn more about our education programme on our website.