If your daughter is between the ages of 8 and 12, you’ve probably talked to her about her period and what to expect when hers arrives. But it’s also important that the kids in your household understand what it means when their brother gets his period and how best to approach this time of the month. How should parents explain menstrual cycles to the kids in their home?
Depending on how old your kids are, they may already know what a period is and what to do (and what not to do) to support their sibling. But if they learned about their period in school or watched TV shows and TikTok about what happens during that time of the month, it can still be a potentially awkward and uncomfortable conversation to have with your child.
Despite the embarrassment or discomfort, experts say menstrual talk is necessary with young people at home who aren’t menstruating. Looking for ways to best discuss the topic of menstruation with your child? Yahoo Life asked therapists and parents for advice on how to talk about period in a way that isn’t scary or intimidating for both parties.
Educate your child about the menstrual cycle
Michelle Felder, a licensed clinical social worker and Parenting Pathfinders therapist, says it’s important to have an open and honest conversation with your child about what a period is and why it happens.
“I encourage parents to be clear, factual, and honest about the changes that can happen to all bodies as they develop,” says Felder, “and then to talk specifically about the changes that typically occur to someone assigned female at birth and to a person assigned male at birth.”
While you may have this conversation with information you’ve amassed from your life thus far, Felder says there are helpful resources available online to explain what it’s like to have a period in terms a tween can understand, as well as informative YouTube videos.
The conversation about the menstrual cycle doesn’t have to be long either. Carinne Saini-Chambers, founder of menstrual products company Diva, says an easy way to give kids the amount of information they need is to say, “It’s a monthly cleansing process of the body to keep the uterus healthy, so one day a child could grow up if he wanted to.”
Foster a sense of empathy and understanding in the family
Your son may not be able to fully understand what it’s like for your daughter to start her period. However, Dr. Sophia Yen, co-founder and chief executive officer of Pandia Health, says she explains that a menstruating person’s monthly cycle can sometimes be painful And embarrassing… Self they bleed through your clothes or stain your sheets.
“Whether your child’s siblings were assigned male or female at birth, it’s important for them to empathize with what their sibling is experiencing,” adds Felder. “Puberty is a time of many changes for all people, and learning that there’s no one way to experience it can be helpful.”
“Hopefully having this perspective can help increase your other children’s level of empathy, understanding, and compassion for what their sibling is going through,” she adds.
Answer questions honestly and openly
Chances are your child may have questions about a period and that’s completely normal. We advise you to be as transparent as possible. “Every time one of my kids asked questions about bodies, we’d have mini conversations and keep it calm and reality,” says Saini-Chambers. “I’ve never said such things Oh, none of your business or You don’t have to worry about that.”
For Christina Mann Karaba, mother of two, the conversation about periods hasn’t been a one-time affair. Through open discussions, she says menstruation was something her son “always knew.”
Mann Karaba followed a similar strategy to Saini-Chambers when it came to answering her son’s questions about menstruation. “We have a fairly open and honest family,” he says, “so if you have any questions, I always answer truthfully and age-appropriately.”
Give examples of what not to say
It’s easy for your child to tell Oh, she must be grumpy because she’s on her period or Cries so much because she’s on her periodBut experts warn it’s important to use this opportunity to change the stereotypes men learn about menstruation and teach them to be understanding, not critical.
“Tell your child to avoid blaming anything on their period — not their mood, delay, frustration — anything,” says Felder. “They should avoid ever asking Are you on period? as a way to make sense of someone’s mood”.
Felder explains that asking a question like Is it your period? it’s not only invasive, but it ignores the fact that there are many things that can impact how someone pays or behaves.
Also teach non-menstruating children in your home to avoid common phrases such as Stop being dramatic And Ew, that’s disgusting.
“As a general rule, I think it’s best for siblings to let the person who’s on their period decide if and when they’re going to talk about it,” Felder says, adding that anything that might cause a sense of embarrassment or shame around a normal function bodily should be avoided at all costs.
Offer ways your child can help you
Even though your son may not yet understand the gravity of the situation when your daughter gets her period, she will probably want to help and support her sibling.
“Everyone who has their period experiences it differently, so there’s not one thing to say that’s going to be helpful for everyone,” says Felder. “But it can be helpful to ask Is there anything you need?”
Explain to children helpful things they can offer their siblings during their period such as water, a snack, a warm rag, over-the-counter pain relievers (given by a parent), or a tampon or tampon.
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