Every girl anticipates her first period differently. Some may be excited for it, some may be anxious about it, and some may have a lot of questions! Having one’s period is a perfectly natural and healthy milestone in every woman’s life—but we don’t often take the opportunity to talk about it in a candid, open and non-intimidating way.

Each girl’s experience of puberty is unique—not only because of the distinct physical makeup of each body, but also because every girl has a different emotional disposition, personality and social context.

This back-to-school season, try these 5 holistic ways to help you and your pre-teen daughter (or niece, or granddaughter) get ready for her red days.
1. Talk expectations.

Make sure she’s equipped with the right facts and knows what to expect early on, including what changes to expect in her body and how to use feminine products properly. Menarche—or a girl’s first period—can occur anytime between 8 and 13 years old, sometimes earlier or later, so you might want to begin discussions while she is as young as 7 years old in order to get both of you acquainted and comfortable with discussing the subject.

The goal is to normalize menstruation and establish the idea that it is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of. Give her a realistic picture, emphasizing both the health and cleansing benefits of menstruating, as well as the mood swings and dysmenorrhea that may come with it. It’s best to hear the facts from a trusted source who can answer their questions and distinguish facts from folklore.

2. Follow her lead.

This one goes for both daughters and parents or guardians! While the exact day of her first period may be a surprise, what’s important is that you stay calm and supportive as she goes through these changes.

A girl’s first period is a milestone, but be sure to take her cue on how to respond appropriately: If she’s excited about it, you can have a small celebration—just make sure you’re not too eager, because nobody wants their first period announced on social media. Understand that some girls may not want to make a big deal out of their first period and as a parent, you should respect her need for discretion, too.

3. Teach her to know her body.

It’s surprising to know how many grown women still subscribe to menstrual myths and don’t have a complete understanding of what goes on during their monthly cycle. Make sure your little girl is in the know—teach her to know her cycle, what it means to be menstruating and ovulating, and the importance of counting and charting her cycle. Knowing these basics will help her know her flow and eventually predict her cycle on her own. If your daughter’s cycle is irregular, she can stay informed with the help of an OB/GYN.

While knowledge is definitely key, it’s important to first make sure your daughter is properly receptive to all this information. Try giving her age-appropriate details in small doses as she matures, rather than sitting her down for one long-winded lecture. Make sure you’re ready for any questions she may have—brush up with prior research, if necessary, or schedule a consultation with an OB/GYN that you can accompany her to. Get comfortable with using proper anatomical terms: vagina, vulva, menstruation, rather than falling back on euphemisms.

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4. Involve the men, too.

Discussing menstruation with the men in your family can be understandably awkward—but it’s necessary.

It’s important to let the boys and men in the family be in the know in order for them to have an understanding of girls’ bodies and be respectful of their needs. By the age of nine or ten, boys should learn the basics of what it means when their mother or sister is on her period. Not only will this help neutralize the stigma against menstruation altogether, but it will also help create empathy as your boys learn to respect the girls’ needs.

5. Create a period pack.

Remember in grade school when your teachers used to require you to keep a hygiene kit in your locker? They were right in starting kids young. Good hygiene is of utmost importance, especially when it comes to your pre-teen’s menstrual health.

Help her put together a period pack consisting of 1-2 sanitary pads (cloth or disposable), toilet paper, hand sanitizer, a small bottle of feminine wash, and an extra pair of underwear. Familiarize her with the products and how to use them properly even before she has her first period. Teach her what to do in case of stains, sudden cramps, and other emergencies. Keep her period pack in her school bag or handbag at all times so that when the day comes, she’s ready.

Every woman has a unique and beautiful S.H.A.P.E. - spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences*. This is why we want to honor each one with the utmost respect and care.

Human Nature’s Natural Feminine Care products are free from synthetic chemicals that irritate, artificially whiten, mask with harsh fragrances or cause long-term health issues. Only carefully formulated, pure, mild intimate care that’s second only to nature.

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*from Pastor Rick Warren’s S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life