How to Explain or Have an Open Conversation with a Child about Menstruation?
Menstruation and euphemisms go hand in hand, such as Aunt flow, Aunty, on the rag, and lady business chums, those days, among others. By far, the most crucial element when talking about menstruation with a child is to name the body parts by their actual names.
Talking about intensely personal subjects such as periods or menstruation can make both elders and children a little uncomfortable. That said, kids need reliable information. Helping children to understand their bodies will surely help them in making good decisions regarding their health.
When to Start a Conversation?
Conversing about periods need not be one big talk at a specific age . Instead, initiate the conversation early and then slowly build on the understanding of your child. All genders need the right information about menstruation. Therefore, boys, too, need to be involved in such conversations.
For instance, if a 4-year-old girl notices a tampon and asks about its usage, you could say this: “Women bleed a bit from their vagina each month. This is called a period. This does not happen because you are hurt. The tampon absorbs the blood so that it does not reach your underwear.”
With the passage of years, you can provide more information to children, as they are ready.
If a child hesitates to ask questions regarding periods, you can surely bring it up from your side. By the time they are 6-7 years old, most children can understand the basics of periods. Seek out a natural moment to talk about it, such as:
- When children question about bodily changes or puberty
- When children ask where babies come from
- If you are at a store purchasing sanitary pads or tampons
Mentioned below are eight effective tips that elders can follow to normalise discussions around the topic of menstruation.
Ujaas the menstrual health and hygiene initiative by Aditya Birla education trust is all set to take the sole responsibility to create awareness regarding menstruation and fight back against the stigma related to it. Ujaas does several workshops as well in different places and makes adolescent girls, boys, and elders of family aware of menstruation. We believe that menstruation is a human right as well.
1. Prepare Yourself First
It is important that you are mentally prepared to initiate the conversation. Converse about your own experiences and be prepared to answer all questions, even if some may sound trivial. If the need arises, use the Internet to talk about the female reproductive system.
2. Ensure That the Conversation is Not “One-Off”
It should be noted at the very outset that all conversations with children about the period talk are not one-offs. Instead, it needs to be ongoing and discussed in a normal manner, just like you converse about “everyday” things and events.
3. Your Child Must be Able to Discuss it with Anyone in the Close Family
Create a positive atmosphere at home so that a child should feel completely free to talk about periods to other close family members as well. If the father of the child offers information or purchases books about menstruation for children, then the child will obviously have a plethora of questions for him.
4. Do not Skip the Details
It is completely natural for children to have many diverse questions regarding periods, such as “when,” “why,” “how long,” and many more. Answer each question with utmost patience, and make sure you do not gloss over the details.
5. Do not Bombard the Child with Too Much Info
Avoid getting into too many details to the point where the child gets confused. The ideal time to begin is when the child sees an advertisement about a sanitary pad on television. Do not overwhelm a child with long lectures in a single sitting. Always begin with small talk, which is easier for the child to absorb. Inform her that these are changes that the body goes through, as she gradually becomes a woman.
6. Never Be in a Hurry
As a society, we are constantly in a hurry to sweep the so-called “taboo” topics beneath the carpet. Often, we cut short the conversation because we, too, are embarrassed. This approach needs a radical change. Offer children the confidence that if it matters to them, it eventually matters to you, too. Take your time but ensure that you answer every question in a calm manner.
7. Involve the Boys, Too
Period talk need not be merely a girls’ thing. Boys, too, need to be an active part of the conversation. In fact, parents of boys must educate them so that they are of help and assistance to their “girl” friends during times of need, given the fact that periods can be challenging for girls to deal with.
8. Fathers, too, Should Play an Active Role
Fathers are the fundamental pillars that hold the child’s well-being and emotional development. Fathers can play a huge role in normalising periods. In this way, they break gender parenting roles and stereotypes.
Having a period talk with children ensures that we help in creating an understanding, non-toxic environment that is free from any shame. Period talks with teens, besides helping in normalising periods, boost their confidence during the crucial stage of puberty. Helping children in understanding their bodies will empower them to execute the aptest decisions when it comes to their health.