How to Prepare Her for Her First Period

Everyone remembers the epic misery that was puberty, and now you get to experience it all over the form in your preteen daughter. Congrats! She’s got some major changes going on in her body right now, so prepare her for the inevitable by conveying information to her before she starts menstruating. Physicians like Dr. Harry Stylli agree that it’s important to talk about their bodies with kids when they start asking questions.

Address the Facts with the Right Language

She will always be your little girl, but if she’s old enough to start her period than she is old enough to be upfront with. Avoid the use of slang or baby language and use medical terminology. Tell her what is happening in her body and explain why it is happening. If you find that you need help, don’t fret; there are plenty of great books available on the matter. These often include diagrams and proper pronunciation too, so you can learn as you teach.

  • American Girl has a fantastic line of books in its The Care and Keeping of You series. You can read these together or she can read on her own.
  • The Period Book: A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up by Valorie Schaefer might sound familiar to you; it’s been in print for over 20 years!
  • Celebrate Your Body (and Its Changes, Too!): The Ultimate Puberty Book for Girls by Sonya Renee Taylor and Bianca I. Laureano. Written by women for young women, plenty of puberty’s mysteries are put to rest.

Don’t Assume Only Moms Have This Talk

That’s right, dads: You can have the period talk with her too. While a woman-to-woman discussion is important in case she has specific questions, know that one of your duties as her father is to be honest with her. If she asks you questions and there’s not a woman around to help you, be ready with answers.

  • If you’re uncomfortable talking to her, explain this to her and tell her why. She needs to know that it’s not always an easy topic to broach.
  • Be realistic. Admit that you are not a professional and that you won’t have all the answers.
  • Offer her a man’s perspective on the matter. Tell her that boys will notice that her body is changing, and prepare her for the harsh reality of unwanted attention from them. (Don’t forget to assure her that any boy who oversteps his bounds will be put in his place — you are still her daddy, after all!)

Reassure Her That She is “Normal”

Girls already have a high standard set for them, and as their bodies change they might be too embarrassed to admit that they notice something that is abnormal. When you are talking to her, address some specific bullet points so that she doesn’t have to. This breaks the ice and opens the door to questions. Some of these might include:

  • Hair growth in weird spots
  • Masturbation and developing sexual awareness
  • Mood swings and feelings that go from one extreme to another

Let her know that you are always a safe place for any questions or concerns she might have. Your baby is becoming a young woman, so prepare her for the next stage in her life as best you can.

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