If your daughter is between 8 and 12, you have probably talked to her about her period and what to expect when it starts. However, it is equally vital for the boys in your house to understand what it means when one of their siblings is on their period and how to approach this time of the month in the healthiest way possible. What is the best way for parents to explain menstrual cycles to their sons?
Depending on their age, your children may already understand what a period is and what to do (and what not to do) to help their sibling. However, whether your son has learned about the menstrual cycle in school or has watched television episodes and TikToks about what happens during that time of the month, it can still be an awkward and uncomfortable subject to have with your son.
Experts say you need to have a period talk with the young people in your home who do not menstruate, even if it makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable. Do you want to know the best approach to talking to your kid about menstruation? Yahoo Life asked therapists and parents for advice on discussing menstruation in a way that is not frightening or intimidating for either party.
Educate your son about the menstrual cycle
Michelle Felder, a Parenting Pathfinder, licensed clinical social worker, and therapist, advises having an open and honest dialogue with your son about what a period is and why it occurs.
Felder adds, “I advise parents to be upfront, realistic, and honest about the changes that can occur to all bodies as they mature, and then discuss explicitly the changes that normally occur to a person labeled female at birth vs. a person assigned male at birth.”
While you may have this talk using facts from your past, Felder says there are helpful tools online to explain what it means to have a period in words a preteen can comprehend, as well as instructional movies on YouTube.
The discussion on the menstrual cycle can be short, too. “It is a monthly cleansing procedure for the body to keep the uterus healthy, so one day a baby could grow if she wishes,” says Carinne Saini-Chambers, founder of menstrual product brand Diva.
Foster a sense of empathy and understanding in the household
Your kid may not fully get what it is like for your daughter to begin her period. Dr. Sophia Yen, co-founder, and CEO of Pandia Health explains that a menstrual period can be painful and embarrassing if they bleed through their clothes or damage their linens.
“Whether your child’s siblings were born male or female, it is vital for them to sympathize with what their sibling is going through,” Felder adds. “Puberty is a time of great change for everyone, and understanding that there is no one way to experience it might be beneficial.”
“Hopefully, having this perspective will assist in raising your other children’s empathy, understanding, and compassion for what their sister is going through,” she says.
Answer questions honestly and openly
Your son is likely to have period-related queries, which is very typical. You will want to be as open as possible. “Anytime my kids had questions about bodies, we would have short chats and just keep it calm and matter-of-fact,” Saini-Chambers says. “I never said, ‘Oh, that is none of your business,’ or ‘You do not have to worry about that.'”
Christina Mann Karaba, a mother of two, knew that discussing periods would not be a one-time thing. She claims her son “always knew” about periods because of open chats.
Mann Karaba used a method similar to Saini-Chambers’ when answering her son’s period queries. “We have an open and honest family,” she says, “so if he has questions, I always answer truthfully and in an age-appropriate manner.”
Offer examples of what not to say
It is easy for your son to think, oh, she must be grumpy because she is on her period, or she is crying so much because she is on her period. However, experts say it is critical to use this opportunity to change the stereotypes males learn about menstruation and teach them to be sympathetic rather than critical.
“Tell your son not to blame anything on their period – not their mood, tardiness, annoyance — nothing,” Felder advises. “They should never question, ‘Do you have your period?’ to gauge someone’s mood.”
Felder notes that asking invasive questions like “Is it your period?” ignores that many factors can influence how someone feels or behaves. Also, encourage your non-menstruating children to avoid comments like “Stop being dramatic”.
As a general rule, I believe siblings should let the person having their period decide whether or not to discuss it. “Felder states that anything that could bring embarrassment or shame around a normal body function should be avoided at all costs.
Offer ways your son can help
Although your son may still be unaware of the gravity of the situation when her daughter starts her period, they will almost certainly want to assist and support their sibling.
“Everyone who gets their period has a different experience, so there is not one thing to say that would help everyone,” Felder adds. “However, it can be helpful to ask, is there anything else you require?”
Inform children about valuable items they can provide their siblings while on their periods, such as water, a snack, a warm towel, over-the-counter pain medication (given by a parent), or a pad or tampon.