How to Explain What a Period is to Your Child

Knowing what menstruation is is important.

what is the first sign of a period?

What is the first sign of a period and is there anything that could slowdown a period?

which part of your body that blood comes from

What part of the body does the blood come from? Is it the same blood when you cut yourself?

when do you know you're going to have your period?

When do you know your going to get your period?

Why do I keep harping on about periods? I do this because I want to normalise periods and the conversations we have, because this will equip children with knowledge and tools. Education about periods lays the foundations, fosters compassion and empathy, and promotes health, empowerment, support, and gender equality in homes.

Have I convinced you yet? I hope so, but how do we start these conversations when many parents believe that their kids are too young to know anything? 

Even though we are having more conversations there is still a whole lot more that we can do to break down the fear and shame that surrounds periods and I believe that simple age-appropriate conversations are key. What do you think?

Conversations about periods can start when a toddler finds a pad in a drawer, or sees mum using a tampon, or sees some blood in the toilet. 

The conversations can be as simple as this:

Young Child Asking: “What’s that pointing to a pad or tampon or blood in the toilet?”

Adult Answering: “It is called a pad/tampon/blood because mum has something called a period that looks like blood coming out of her vagina. It means one day that she can have a baby. Or if they ask why is there blood in the toilet? A parent could add It’s not like the blood when you cut yourself it’s just healthy and normal.”

Here is one way that you could answer your pre-teen if and when they ask you, “What is a Period?”

Imagine your body getting ready for something special each month. That’s what happens with periods! They’re a natural part of growing up for people with a uterus. It’s like your body’s way of preparing for the possibility of having a baby one day.

Every month, your uterus (which is like a small pouch-about here-point to it) builds up a cozy lining of tissue to welcome a baby if you get pregnant. But if you don’t get pregnant, your body doesn’t need this lining anymore. So, it comes out of your body through your vagina. That’s your period!

Now, when we talk about period blood, it’s not just blood like when you scrape your knee. It’s a mix of different things, like cells, mucus, and tissue from inside your uterus. Sometimes it’s pink, red, or even brown. There is usually about 3 to 4 tablespoons of blood that comes out in your period although it might look like more. Your period usually lasts from 3 to 7 days and comes around once a month. At first, it might not be exactly at the same time (regular), but that’s totally normal. Your body is just figuring out its own rhythm. It often gets into a routine of getting periods once a month, but just like we are all different, your periods are too.

To make sure the blood doesn’t get on your clothes, you can use pads, tampons, period undies or menstrual cups. 

I’m also a great advocate of menopause so you might like to talk about this too and say….

You’ll have about 400 to 450 periods in your lifetime. 

They usually stop when you’re between 45 and 55 years old. That’s called menopause.

I would love you to come to me if you have you have any more questions about periods

What is a Period?” and “When will I know that my first period is about to start?”

Find out in this blog here: 

Mum or Dad “What is a Period” and “When will I know that my first period is about to start”

What is a Period?” and “When will I know that my first period is about to start?”

When did you first learn about periods? Did you know when they would start, how and what they were? Knowledge about periods for everyone is important as it normalises that they happen, it opens up conversations, empowers, educates and helps everyone to be empathetic, kind and respectful. The world needs more of this for sure!

I wrote a blog here about the stages of the menstrual cycle here:

The Stages of The Menstrual Cycle

The Stages of the Menstrual Cycle

Do you want your child to be prepared, confident, empathetic, respectful, educated, less embarrassed, feel normal and not ashamed? Then start talking about the menstrual cycle from an early age. Giving most boys the opportunity to learn about menstruation also empowers them to be respectful, even if they never menstruate.

Final Words

Knowing what menstruation is and understanding your child’s cycle is also important. So how about we all try and think of periods in a positive way, communicating this to our children and normalising menstruation, and the many stigmas that are attached. And of course, there’s me. I am here to help you too.

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The facilitator of ‘Amazing Me’, Rowena is a primary trained school teacher, with more than 30 years of experience in sexuality education and a mum of three adult children.

Rowena understands the many complexities and challenges at different stages in a child’s life when talking about tough topics like sex and puberty.

She is passionate about what she does with the goal that open and positive conversations will be started and continued, that puberty is ‘normalised’, relationships enriched and strengthened and as a result, wise choices are made in the future.