You won’t know the exact date when your daughter will get her first period, although there are signs to look out for that will help you know roughly when it might make an appearance. But one thing we do know, is that girls are getting their first periods earlier than those of previous generations. This means there are now more girls starting their periods when they are still at primary school, which when you think about it is quite a daunting prospect for both her and you.
To help you navigate these times, we’ve put together some helpful ways you can support your daughter if she gets her first period when she’s still at primary school.
Start Period Chat Early
Talking about periods should be as free and easy as talking about the weather. After all, both are naturally occurring processes. And yet for some reason, periods still have an air of embarrassment and shame attached to them.
This needs to stop, now!
Make your household a period shame free zone. Normalise the conversation. Leave your sanitary products out on show. Speak openly about your own period. Buy age-appropriate books and read them together. Encourage questions.
Start the period chat as early as you can, so that by the time she gets her own period it will feel completely natural to her. Girls that are well prepared, are the ones that cope best with periods at primary school. And of course, puberty and periods are covered in school, in fact lessons now start in year 5 whereas previously it was in year 6, but really we should be talking to our daughters before this. We should be the ones telling them, because imagine the shock of knowing absolutely nothing and then sitting down in class to be told ‘oh by the way, at some point soon you’re going to be bleeding out of your vagina, and this is going to happen every month, for lots of years”. OK, so teachers are way more diplomatic than that, but still, I’m sure you get my point!
Talk to your girls about periods, about puberty, about the changes that will happen to their bodies, how they might feel, how to cope with it, and to reassure them that it’s all fine, and normal, and something all girls go through. But above anything else, tell them that they can come to you for anything. Absolutely anything at all. There are no stupid questions.
Put Together A First Period Pack
If you’ve spotted some of the signs that your daughter could be heading towards getting her first period, it’s a good idea to put together a first period pack for her to take to school with her. This should be something you do together, as you can also use it as an opportunity to talk through the different period products and explain how each of them are used and how they can be disposed of.
Some handy items to include in her period kit include:
- Sanitary Towels – Try and get the smallest ones you can find. Remember, her knickers are a lot smaller than yours, and she’ll need pads that are both discreet and comfortable.
- Panty Liners – Ahead of her first period it is likely your daughter will notice vaginal discharge in her knickers. Having the option to line them with a panty liner will help her feel fresher and more comfortable.
- Spare Underwear – In case of any leaks, which let’s face it, is highly likely when all this period business is so new to her.
- Nappy Sack – She’s going to need something to put any dirty underwear in or to dispose of sanitary products if they don’t have facilities at her primary school. Which, if they don’t, be sure to make a point of asking for sanitary bins to be fitted in the girls’ toilets – I’m sure the other parents and girls will appreciate it!
- Wipes – You can buy travel-sized packs of wipes that are really handy for wiping blood off of hands, clothes, legs, anywhere she might accidentally get it. Remember, this is all new to her and it will take a few goes of changing a sanitary towel before she gets the knack of it.
Pack all of these bits into a large pencil case so that if anyone happens to look in her bag it will blend in with the rest of her things. Whilst we want our daughters to be open about their periods, we also don’t want them to attract any unnecessary attention, especially if she’s already feeling a bit wobbly about dealing with periods in primary school.
Talk To Her Teachers
If you ask your daughter, it’s highly likely she won’t want you talking to her teachers about something she considers private, but of course it’s really important her teachers know. You don’t need to make a song and dance about it, and you don’t need to say anything to her teachers while your daughter’s within earshot. It’s much easier to send a short email, simply explaining that she’s started her period. That way the teacher will know how to support your daughter and will also understand if she’s asking to go to the toilets more often.
Your daughter may also be worried about taking part in PE lessons, swimming, or overnight camps if she has her period. At least if the teacher knows she has her period, she can allow her to sit out, or give her a ‘special’ job so that she doesn’t feel as though she is missing out.
It’s really important that you are honest with your daughter. There will be plenty of occasions in the future when you will want your daughter to be honest with you, and trust comes from being honest on both sides. Explain to her that you have mentioned to her teacher that she has started her period and that they are fine with it and won’t mention it to her. But also explain that if she needs help at school or if she runs out of sanitary products, she can always go and talk to her teacher, a school nurse, or another female teacher and they will be able to get some for her. As part of the governmental scheme Free Periods, every state school and college in the UK is entitled to order free period products for their pupils. Not every school knows about this however, so it is worth mentioning to the school in order for them to benefit from this very worthwhile scheme.
Have A Plan
As well as talking to your daughter about what periods are, when she might get her first one, and what products she might like to use, there are a few practical pieces of advice that you should be sharing with her too.
- What to do if she leaks
- How to use period products
- How to dispose of used period products
- What to do if her flow is heavy
- What to do if she gets cramps
- What to do if she doesn’t feel well at school
- The importance of good hygiene
Period pants are great at any age, but they are particularly good for girls in primary school when they are still getting used to dealing with periods. Because you won’t necessarily know how heavy her flow is until her periods settle down, it’s a good idea for her to use a sanitary towel as well as period pants. This will make it easier for her, as she can roll up and throw away the pad at lunchtime and the period pants will then keep her going until home time.
Getting her first period is a big moment in your daughter’s life. And we hope that by using the advice above, she will know exactly what to do should her period come while she is still at primary school. Plus, if she knows everything there is to know about periods, she can help support her friends if they start theirs at primary school too. Because everyone needs a friend like that.