How to Talk to Your Child About Periods At a Young Age
I recently saw a meme floating around the internet that made me absolutely cringe and not in a good cringe, haha funny kind of way, either. It was in a super judgemental, "why would you even say that?" kind of way.
The meme was about a mother explaining her period to her toddler and the words she chose were something like "Sometimes mommies have red poop."
Even worse is the fact that I have since seen this meme floating around some very popular parenting accounts, thus influencing more moms to explain periods as red poop. *Commence forehead slap.
PARENTS- please, for the love of humanity and your child's long term well-being, stop explaining things in "cutesy" and downright bizarre ways.
How in the world can you tell me that teaching your child that "mommies have red poop" is better than teaching them that WOMEN have periods once a month?
Also- what will your response be when they inevitably wonder why mommies have red poop or have follow-up questions that they expect answers to? Better yet- what happens when they actually need to know about periods and female anatomy? Surely, you aren't sticking to the red poop theory forever. Do you see what is happening here? You are creating an entire web of lies that you won't be able to maintain for very long.
While I understand no one has bad intentions when they explain things like this to their children, I do think we have an immense responsibility as parents to teach our children the truth and not sugar coat things for them.
I also realize that our children typically catch us off guard with these questions and because we so badly want to give them an answer, we think of some clever little way to get them to stop asking and wondering about the thing we don't want to talk about yet.
Sometimes, we teach our children incorrectly as early as infancy whether we realize it or not. Take body parts, for example. I know so many parents who have named their child's private parts cutesy things like "flower" or "little friend," instead of using the correct term of penis or vagina.
Children, even toddlers, are fully capable of learning the truth and facts about topics that seem too "grown-up" or mature for them.
There you are in all your womanly glory- sitting on the toilet legs spread, back hunched, getting ready to insert another tampon or change your pad for the hundredth time today when...
"MOM?! Why are you bleeding?!"
Ugh. Your palms begin to sweat and you start wracking your brain for possible ways to explain this to the horrified human staring at you like you're some sort of science experiment gone wrong.
For the love of all things holy woman, PLEASE do not tell them that "sometimes mommies have red poop."
Just. Be. Honest.
"Oh, this? Mommy just has her period right now. It's nothing to worry about."
Seriously, it is THAT EASY! No need for some traumatizing response that will leave them wondering when they will start having red poop and how they can avoid it. Just good old fashion facts. Imagine that.
Now, I know what you're thinking- "It cannot be that easy" or "What if they ask what a period is?" And to that, I say- I gotchu, girlfriend!
You could follow up with something like "All women have periods and every month, we bleed a little." Or "A period is something that women have before they can have a baby." Or "A period is something I will teach you about when you're a little older."
Do you see how easy this can be?
How to Explain Periods to Your Child
Depending on how old your child is and/or how much they know about pregnancy, you may need to make some changes to how you would respond.
Because my daughter knew from a young age that women had periods and that women could also have babies, here is how our conversation went:
"When girls get older, their bodies start getting ready to have babies. Since babies grow inside the woman's body, there is a sort of balloon in there called a uterus. Once a month, that uterus (or balloon) fills up with blood because that's what babies need to survive and grow. If no baby is made in the uterus, that blood has to come out and that is why women bleed."
While I realize using words like "balloon" could be considered "code," I would argue that it is kid-friendly without being false or misleading. Children are highly visible creatures, so I find that using familiar images or objects is helpful when describing something.
The bottom line when it comes to this and other hard topics that are sure to come up is to keep things simple and don't feel like you have to answer every question they ask in detail. Some things really are TMI, even for kids.
Did you find this helpful? If so, please share it with all of your parent friends. Chances are, their child is going to wonder about periods someday, too.