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My daughter started her periods before I could talk to her about it. I felt really bad when she came home crying….and here I had been waiting for the right time.
- Mother of a 13 year old

I did not know anything…when I was in class five. I started bleeding from there when I was in school one day. I was so scared…my mother was also not home…she was away for two days. I told no one, only kept changing my panties…when my mother came back, I did not tell her either….
- An 11 year old.

The first thumb rule one can safely go by is that no time is too soon to begin talking about the physical and psychological changes your daughter will begin experiencing as an adolescent. It is very likely that it will be your daughter, who may initiate this conversation about
growing up and menstruation, which you have been planning, but keep
putting it off for a better time. Therefore, any time she chooses to talk is a good time for the 'big talk'. Being guided by your daughter's questions is perhaps the best roadmap for every mother. She will be a willing ear, interested and eager, and the fact that she has approached you, signals that you have her trust. One should make the most of such an opportunity.

On the other hand, if your daughter has already turned eight, and not yet evinced any curiosity, nor asked any leading questions, it is time you sat her down and had the talk. She may be shy or afraid to ask, or she may just not be as curious as her peers.

Most mothers we talked to, opine that a girl must be informed of menstruation when she is about 8 or 9 years, before she experiences menarche or the first period. The onset of menstruation occurring at an early age of 9 is not uncommon these days, and therefore most mothers feel the need to start talking about menstruation earlier than the 12th or 13th year, which has been hitherto the norm.

I know I must talk to her soon, but how do I start? Won't she feel awkward and embarrassed?
- Mother of an 8 year old

If you ask me, I'd want her to keep her innocence till she is 12, but I
think she already knows…keeps throwing these pointed questions at me?

- Mother of a 9 year old

There are still many mothers who hesitate to discuss menstruation at 'so tender an age. They worry as to how much to tell, what will their little girl make of all this, will they at all understand anything? These questions posed by mothers are relevant even to tweens and teens.

The second thumb rule one must follow is that never ignore a question, especially brushing it aside with, ”you will know when you grow up”. If you do think the moment is inappropriate, tell her you will explain later, and please ensure that you do so. Children are quick to discern if there is unwillingness to share, which may diminish their interest or even your credibility, making them seek this vital information elsewhere.

It is important to be open with your child from the very first question, to be honest, to state the facts as simply and accurately as possible, in a straightforward, positive manner. Also, children these days being highly aware minimizes the risk of any mother shocking or negatively impacting her child by talking about menstruation. She needs to be informed about the facts, why it happens and how best to manage the occurrence. Your daughter will also need to be reassured that menstruation is a normal, natural phase that every girl goes through.

Finally, it should be the endeavour of every parent to ensure that their daughter is aware and appropriately informed of menstruation before she experiences it. Feelings of shock, fear, of being dirty or different, sometimes even feelings of guilt can be avoided by a timely conversation.