I don’t remember ever having the “period talk” with my mom. I do remember the school nurse coming into my grade 6 class room with plastic replicas of private parts and lots of nervous laughter and jokes. Definitely not the way that I wanted Hannah to find out about her changing body. In the past few months I’ve been hearing so much about how puberty in girls is happening earlier than ever – as young as nine years old – so I started doing my research about the best way to approach the subject with my almost pre-teen.
Now please realize, I’m not talking about the birds and the bees chat here. I am definitely not ready for that, and I don’t think she is either. But while she watches her friends’ bodies start to change I thought she should understand what’s happening to them, and eventually herself, hearing it first hand from the mom-source.
Blame it on the hormones in milk or too much screen time (yes, it’s true – read more about this here) but the reality is that girls are hitting puberty earlier and earlier. And there are plenty of resources out there for parents to talk to their kids about their changing bodies and feelings. After scouring the shelf of my local library I found the perfect book for Hannah and I to read together.
The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Book is a product of the master-mind branding experts over at American Girl. Targeted to tweens aged 9-12, it covers a range of topics from skin and hair care, to healthy eating, to breast development and, of course, menstruation. We started reading it very slowly and worked our way through the pages until we got to the period section.
It was an eye-opening experience for both of us as I realized how little she knew and she realized, with fright, that big changes were on the horizon. We laughed, we cried, we talked more than we have in a long time.
I knew my decision to talk to her about puberty at just eight years old was the right one when she came home from school that Monday and told me all of her friends already knew about periods. Older sisters, cousins and friends were present in their lives and they had already been informed about “Aunt Flo”. I was happy to be the one to tell Hannah, not a friend or an unsettling trip to the washroom. It was all she could think about for the first few days but the novelty wore off shortly thereafter. Which isn’t a bad thing seeing that she’ll have the chance to think about it on a monthly basis for a good 40 years or so 🙂
Have you had the talk with your daughter yet? What were some of your favourite tools?