FEATURE

Your Daughter’s First Period

“Daughter's

Girls are beginning puberty earlier than a generation ago, so talking to your daughter about her first period sooner rather than later can help her develop strong body confidence as she enters this time of change.

Menstruation 101

Before raising the subject of menstruation, it’s a good idea for you to be clear on the basics. For most girls, the signs of their first period appear between the ages of 8 and 14. The average length of menstruation is five days but this can vary widely. A typical monthly cycle is 28 days but it can last anywhere between 22 and 40 days; however, the first few years of menstruation usually don’t follow a regular pattern.

Every girl is different and it’s normal if your daughter doesn’t fall exactly into these timelines. What’s important to understand is that this will all be new for her, and this ‘coming of age’ can have an impact on her self-esteem and body confidence, especially if she feels alone or unaware. By being informed yourself, you’ll have a better chance of helping her navigate these changes and be comfortable in her changing body.

First period symptoms

Your daughter’s first period may happen when she starts to develop breasts, grow pubic or underarm hair or experience white or yellowish vaginal discharge. For more information, see "Breast development and body hair – dealing with the physical changes of puberty". You may also notice changes in her behaviour, such as increased moodiness or argumentativeness. These changes are often the result of her body producing reproductive hormones, preparing her body for the possibility of pregnancy. Talk with your daughter about these signs before she starts her period. Some girls aren’t aware of the pre-cursors to menstruation, and it can be disconcerting if she doesn’t know what to expect. By discussing these first period symptoms, she can be prepared for what’s to come, which can help her feel more in control.

How to help your daughter with her first period

For some parents, raising the issue is the hardest part, but starting the conversation early can help your daughter manage these changes with minimal impact to her self-esteem. Your first instinct may be to sit your daughter down for a serious discussion about getting her first period. However, it might be less nerve-wracking for you both – and easier for your girl to digest the information – if you weave the topic into day-to-day conversations. Psychologist Dr Tara Cousineau says: “It’s always wise for parents to prepare their girls for puberty by having many conversations about it before menstruation occurs, so they are emotionally prepared as well as practically prepared (with feminine products in their backpacks).”

There is no right way to launch the discussion, but one good place to start is...

Continue reading at the Dove Self-Esteem Project website.

Share

Bio

Sharon HeadshotSharon grew up in a suburb of Toronto, Canada and earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology (B.Sc.) and Exceptionality in Human Learning (B.A.) at the University of Toronto. In her last year of study, she was a regular guest on the radio program Life Rattle where she orated several of her short stories, many of which addressed body image and violence against women. After graduation she devoted her energies to a career in social work, in roles that included supporting families and individuals with intellectual and physical handicaps, co-facilitating eating disorder support groups, and acting as a literacy assessor and educator for homeless women. Upon reaching burnout, she decided to re-evaluate her professional goals via traveling, studying alternative healing arts, and writing.

MORE...

Bio

Sharon grew up in a suburb of Toronto, Canada and earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology (B.Sc.) and Exceptionality in Human Learning (B.A.) at the University of Toronto. In her last year of study, she was a regular guest on the radio program Life Rattle where she orated several of her short stories, many of which addressed body image and violence against women. After graduation she devoted her energies to a lengthy career in social work, in roles that included supporting families and individuals with intellectual and physical handicaps, co-facilitating eating disorder support groups, and acting as a literacy assessor and educator for homeless women. Upon reaching burnout, she decided to re-evaluate her professional goals via traveling, studying alternative healing arts, and writing. After backpacking throughout Mexico, Southeast Asia, and much of South America, she found her second home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was there she committed herself to writing. She studied the craft, joined a writer's group (Thursdays@Three), and experimented with various styles of fiction and non-fiction, which led to her participation as an author, editor, and presenter at the International Book Fair in Buenos Aires in 2008 and 2009 representing the US Embassy.

Today, she is a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a wide variety of subjects, including but not limited to medicine, web design, the American justice system, wind technology, anthropology, psychology, and the English and Spanish languages. She has authored textbooks and several online courses for colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Latin America. From authoring white papers to copy editing university-level exams, from ghostwriting for bestselling authors to development editing quarterly and annual reports, Sharon's experience is far-reaching.

She especially enjoys combining her love of the written word with her passion for body image activism and feminism. She regularly writes for Herizons, Canada's leading feminist magazine, and most recently, has contributed to Fifty Shades of Feminism (Virago), an anthology of "fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - [who] reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today."

In 2009, Sharon joined the London-based AnyBody team, part of the international movement Endangered Bodies, which inspired her to organize Endangered Species: Preserving the Female Body in Buenos Aires, one of five international summits held in March 2011. Subsequently, she founded AnyBody Argentina, the Buenos Aires chapter of Endangered Bodies, which fights against sizeism and promotes healthy body image for Argentine girls and women, issues that Sharon writes about in both English and Spanish. From 2009-2014, she was co-editor for AdiosBarbie.com, a website that promotes healthy body image and identity for people of all sizes, ages, races, cultures, abilities, and sexual identities and orientations; currently, she acts as an advisor for the team.

Since January 2013, Sharon has been a member of the Global Advisory Board for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, advising on issues affecting today's young people with a specific focus on improving their self-esteem and body confidence. Sharon also contributes to various resources for parents, mentors, and youth leaders, and in addition to writing original, extensively researched articles for the Dove Self-Esteem site.

Close

Proud Contributor to:

Fifty Shades of FeminismPublished in March 2013, Sharon contributes "Owning the F-word" to this anthology of "fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - [who] reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today."

Twitter feed