Tweens is an age group that is defined as a time just before kids hit teen age. Age group from 8-12 years is considered tween years. This is also the time when children hit adolescence and Puberty. It is a confusing time for the children as their body undergoes physical, emotional and behavioral changes. As parents, it is important that we sit down and talk to our daughter about periods and puberty however many a times the parents too are ill-equipped to talk about it.
Here are a few tips for talking about Puberty and Periods with your daughter:
Read and Educate yourself
Though periods are a natural progression in growing up, Indian parents are largely underprepared to talk about it. The fact that period talk is considered a taboo topic for many, a lot of parents might be uncomfortable, talking about it. Similarly as the gender roles are a bit rigid, in situations where a woman care giver is unavailable it is tough to broach the topic. It is important to read about the topic and understand how to open the conversation. There are a few helpful resources online that could help parents and children talk and understand better.
Talk to other parents/teachers
Many schools organize talks around periods and adolescence in schools to educate children about the topic. If you are unsure about communicating, talk to other parents and teachers to understand how to go about discussing periods should help. The teachers might even have a few helpful resources. With girls having their periods as early as 8-9 years it is important to have this conversation if you see any physical changes instead of waiting till the actual first menstrual period begins.
Have a Conversation
Tweens generally have a theoretic knowledge about why girls have a period. Thanks to the science lessons they understand why it is happening, the whole process of it actually happening to them is what scares them. After all they are children trying to reach adulthood. Things like emotional outbursts, body image, peer thinking affects them and it is important that we have a conversation around all of this instead of stopping at ‘why periods occur’.
Explain the Physical changes
There are a lot of physical and emotional changes that the tween will undergo before actually having their first period. The physical changes include nipples growing tender, having a growth spurt etc. There could be some behavioral changes as well. If you see these changes it is important to tell your daughter that these are normal and every child her age is facing them.
Talk about emotional changes
While you are at it, it is important to discuss about the emotional changes they will feel as well. If there is a sudden outburst, it is important to keep calm and talk it out once the child is calmer. They will also be more willing and interested in exploring ideas like romance, relationships, dates etc. Having regular communication about these things will go a long way in establishing a stronger relationship. It is also a good idea to take them to your family physician and talk about puberty. This will also help your daughter get correct answers for all her questions.
It is important to reassure your daughter that all the things she is undergoing like pubic hair growth, muscle ache, tender nipples, emotional outbursts etc. are a normal process of growing up and this won’t last forever. Talk about your experiences or things that the child should be aware of around hygiene during periods.
Be Period Ready
Around the age of 12 years, it is better to be period ready. Keep a small bag ready that could include a pad and a panty. Periods won’t really announce their coming and hence the child should be aware about the signs. Tell them the common signs but also talk about not worrying so much as this is just one step in the direction of adulthood.
In India, where talks about period and sex still make many uncomfortable, it is important to prepare your daughter for this growth milestone however it is equally important to educate our sons as well. Their reactions towards the girls will also form a big part of their personal development. How are you preparing your children for this? Don’t forget to share your tips and suggestions in comments below