Puberty can begin as early as age 8 or 9 for some girls. The average age of menarche, or the first period, is about 12 years old, but for many girls, periods start sooner. It's better to prepare a young girl so she'll know what to expect before she begins menstruation. If you wait until it happens, she may be scared and unsure of what is going on with her body. Eight can be a good age to have a simple, clear talk about periods.
Choose a time when you can talk to the girl without distractions.
Be positive. Begin by telling her that you are going to explain something wonderful that she will experience as she grows into a young woman.
Find out what she already knows. She may or may not have heard things from other kids. Ask her if she's heard of a period and what it is. This gives you an idea of where to start and if you need to dispel any false information.
Give a simple explanation: Women release a little blood and tissue from their vagina once a month. Most women start this at about age 12, but it can be different from person to person. This is called a period. It's a sign that a girl's body is capable of having a baby. Some girls and women have cramps, moodiness and breast tenderness, but some people have no negative symptoms at all. The period usually lasts about one week, goes away and returns in about another month.
Explain the biological process involved if she is curious and ready for that kind of information. Discuss how the ovaries release one egg each month. The uterus lines itself with blood and tissue to protect a growing baby. If the egg is fertilised, it stays in the uterus and the baby begins to form. If the egg isn't fertilised, it is shed along with the uterus lining during the next period. Show her diagrams if you like (see resource section).
Show the girl a pad and a tampon and explain how they are used.
Ask the girl if she has any questions, and answer her questions patiently.
Explaining sex and the responsibility that comes with having periods may be too much information for many 8-year-olds. However, these are very important subjects to cover at a later time. You also may want to explain other changes that come along with puberty.
Tips and warnings
- Explaining sex and the responsibility that comes with having periods may be too much information for many 8-year-olds. However, these are very important subjects to cover at a later time. You also may want to explain other changes that come along with puberty.