She’s 10 And About To Get her Period!

Dear Mamas,

I have had the talk with my daughter who is 10 1/2, and I know she is going to start her period any time now. She is 5ft 3 and about 100 lbs, but my problem is when I bring up that she needs to have a tiny purse for supplies she gets mad and says she will just use toilet paper at school if it happens.

So my question is this: is it usually light the first time? How can I convince her it’s better if she has something on hand?



Dear Heather,

This is a great question that brings back all of our “first time” experiences. It’s not at all unusual for your daughter to want to avoid anticipation of the event, in fact she may feel like if she carries supplies she’s daring it to happen at school. The parenting rule that comes to mind here is, “choose your battles”.

Here are some suggestions for smoothing the transition to womanhood.

First, sit down with her and have a heart-to-heart about your own first time. Was it scary? Exciting? Were you prepared? Did you feel grown-up? You may find that your fears for her are based on your own memories and aren’t really about her at all.

Then, discuss the options giving full weight to your daughter’s preferences. Maybe you can put in a call to her school nurse and offer to store some supplies in the office just in case. Chances are, the school stocks sanitary napkins, etc. anyway, but it’s always helpful to make a personal connection so that if your daughter needs her she’s already had a ‘heads up’.

A key question here is how much involvement your daughter would like you to have. For more on that subject, take a look at our previous post, My Daughter’s Getting Her Period. How Much do I Help?

Make sure you have plenty of supplies on hand and give your daughter free access. There are loads of new products out there meant to be sassy and cute for her age group. Kotex has a line developed just for ‘tweens. Click here for a look at how approaches to the first period have changed. Store them in her bedroom or bath so she doesn’t need to ask you where they are. She may reconsider your suggestions and change her mind.

Here are some signs of puberty that indicate the first period is near for our readers who are wondering what to expect:

Menarche (the first period) usually occurs about two years after breasts develop  and between 4 and 6 months after the growth of pubic and underarm hair. The typical age is between 11 and 13, though the first period can come anytime between 9 and 16, depending upon height, weight, and family background, and it’s getting younger and younger.

Finally, this is a great time to review the basics about sexuality, pregnancy prevention and sexually transmitted diseases. Don’t worry that discussing it openly will give her permission to become sexually active. On the contrary, a frank conversation that includes your expectations and values goes a long way towards informing her behavior. Parents are the best protection.

And remember, this is an exciting and wonderful time. Embrace your daughter as the woman she’s becoming, even as you wave goodbye to that little girl in the rear view mirror. Good luck!

~ The Mamas




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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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