“You had your period all this time and I never knew?” was not the response I expected when I initiated the talk with my 9-year-old daughter. Curiosity and some cringing, yes, but I hadn’t anticipated her to have an empathetic response to our discussion about periods. I started by asking her what she already knew about puberty and periods, since I felt I was a little late broaching the topic. I also involved my 6-year-old in some of our discussions, figuring her older sister would probably fill her in anyway. Their questions varied from What does it feel like? to How much blood actually comes out?
No matter how much you prepare for these seemingly big moments with your kids, they often don’t go as expected. And we’ve had more discussions about periods since that first conversation in the hopes that when they do get their first periods, they’ll feel prepared, empowered, and maybe—dare I say—a little excited. In addition to keeping an open dialogue, here are four easy ways to prepare your child for her first period.
1. Remind her it won’t stop her from doing what she loves.
Even though half of the world’s population has a menstrual cycle, a 2022 survey of 1,000 girls by PUMA and Modibodi found that three in five skipped sports as a teen due to a fear of leaking or revealing their period. Not only that, one in two experienced discomfort from disposable menstrual products like pads and tampons when participating in sports or physical exercise. As someone who found herself passed out on the bathroom floor after attempting to use a tampon for the first time before swim practice, I can relate. And I want so much more for my daughters.
Thankfully, period innovation is catching up. Brands like Kt by Knix not only have reusable pads and period underwear, but they also offer leakproof shorts, leggings, and swimwear so girls can keep doing what they love without worrying about period leaks. Kt’s leakproof activewear easily wicks away moisture and sweat and can absorb up to six pads or tampons worth of blood. Plus, all Kt by Knix leakproof period activewear is machine washable!
2. Have a first period kit ready.
Show her all the options women have to manage their periods. Open up a pad, a tampon, a menstrual cup, and period underwear and activewear so she knows what they look like. Provide some basics about how to use them and where they’re stored at home. You can even share some of your hard-won knowledge, like how to make a pad with toilet paper if you’re caught by surprise. Better yet, stick a just-in-case kit in her school backpack with period products when she’s nearing that age so she feels ready—or she can be the go-to friend if someone she knows gets her period and is unprepared.
3. Be mindful of how you talk about your own period.
Check in with your language surrounding your own period. Are you complaining about cramps, bloating, and other symptoms in front of your kids? Are you using terms like “the curse” or blaming emotional outbursts on “Aunt Flo being in town?” Many of us grew up feeling like our periods were something shameful we had to hide, and it’s hard to change what’s been ingrained for so long.
Thankfully, negativity surrounding periods is starting to change. Women’s hormone expert Alisa Vitti describes this unlearning of common period myths and cultural stigmas in her book In the Flo: “Our mys-education is responsible for some very common myths about menstruation that make us feel bad about our hormone cycles, our bodies, and about womanhood in general. It’s time to set the record straight.” Amen. If not for ourselves, then definitely for our daughters.
4. Empower her to learn more on her own.
Even in the most open and healthy parent-child relationship, there are some things your kids might just want to learn about on their own. Equip them with books or other resources you’ve reviewed so they can find answers to their questions without worrying about your reaction. Of course, you can let them know you’re there to answer any additional questions they may have.
Kt by Knix has a free period guide available here—an easy-to-understand e-book covering everything your child might want to know about puberty and periods. Additionally, below are some top-rated books to purchase or grab on your next library trip:
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Kt by Knix but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.