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When to tell your daughter about her first period

A first period generally makes its presence known at around age 12, although this average is trending slightly downward. How will you tell your daughter about what changes she will be going through? We debate the pros and cons and also talked with real moms on how their parents handled it. Read on!    


The average age of menarche, or a girl’s first menstrual period, is around 12 years of age, but girls can start anywhere from 9 to 15. It’s a good idea to start gathering info well before her first period arrives. At around age 8 or 9, girls can handle the information and will likely appreciate knowing about it before Aunt Flo’s arrival.

Just the facts

One way to approach the big talk about puberty is to prepare yourself ahead of time with a book or a website that outlines the process in the simplest terms.

“I think I was nine when my mom sat me down at a table with a note pad and pen and drew diagrams and explained exactly what was going to happen and why,” said Brooke, mother of one. “I’m really glad she did because I got my period at ten and besides being a little embarrassed, was totally prepared and totally ready.”

Leah, mom of one, is preparing her little girl for the eventual talk by not hiding her own monthly period. “She knows that I bleed every month, she knows what a pad is and knows that I call it my period but I haven’t gotten that much into detail because she’s 4,” she shared.

Tell her, indirectly

Another option is to leave books or other information in strategic places for her to find on her own, and leave the option open for her to come to you with questions.

Jennifer from Ohio got to experience a unique family tradition. “I would find pamphlets, the ones with diagrams and attached pads, in my sock drawer,” she explained. “It’s the same thing my grandma did to my mom.”

Several other moms were gifted the classic coming-of-age book, Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret when their time was looming. Taryn, mother of two, said, “My mom had given me a copy of that book a few weeks prior and I had filled in the gaps with a textbook type book she kept in the filing cabinet. She told me I could stay home if I wanted, but I was excited to tell my friends and keep a pad in my backpack.”

Leave it up to the school

The ultimate, no-pressure way to talk about sensitive issues would be to leave it up to the school or other family members to educate your daughter on the ins and outs of menstruation. “My mom never said a word about it to me,” shared Megan from Illinois. “I had to ask her to buy me a book about it that I’d seen at the book fair at my school. My aunt ended up being the one to buy me tampons and such. It was really a don’t ask don’t tell topic in our family.”

Not discussing beforehand can be scary for your daughter, however, especially if she starts early. “I got my period when I was 9,” said Rachael from Wisconsin. “I lived with my dad, so I stuffed toilet paper in my undies until I got to school and got a pad from the nurse, who explained a little to me.”

However you choose to broach the subject, keep in mind that children can handle more than you might think, and your daughter deserves to know what changes she is in for.

More on teen health

Understanding your teen’s nutritional needs
Encouraging healthy sleep habits in your teen
Encouraging teens to eat healthy

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