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How to Discuss Puberty with Your Daughter

Updated on September 2, 2015

Girls Coming of Age

Some parents dread, “the talk.” However, talking to your daughter about puberty can be reframed from drudgery to a rite of passage. You have a unique opportunity to teach, celebrate and honor your daughter’s growth.

She will be embarking on a phenomenal biological experience of being physically transformed from a girl to a woman. This is not a drudgery but a joyful, celebrated transition.

Our culture has a skewed view of puberty, periods, and female development. Our daughters need their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, older sisters, teachers, and their female elders to acknowledge and embrace this remarkable transition into womanhood.

This is how to discuss puberty with your daughter with confidence and reverence.

What Age to Have the Talk With Your Daughter

According to the National Women's Health Network, early puberty continues to be the trend for girls.

The timing of puberty varies because it is influenced by environmental factors, race, nutrition, and cues that are not entirely known. The onset of puberty ranges from age 8 to 13. Puberty usually takes 1 to 6 years to complete.

For girls puberty includes

  • Development of breasts
  • Growth of pubic hair
  • First Menstruation


How Do I Talk To My Daughter About Puberty?

Talking to your daughter about puberty is not a one-time event. There are special moments between mothers and daughters when changes of the female body can be introduced in kid friendly ways.

A 4-year-old girl who finds the maxi pads and sticks them around the house provides an open door to interject what maxi pads are used for. “Oh, you found mommy’s pads. I used those once a month and someday you will get to use them just like mommy does.”

A 6-year-old girl watching TV may ask what the tampon commercial was all about. This provides an opportunity for you to tell her. “Those are called tampons. Older girls and women used them during their period or menstrual cycle. It helps keep them clean and fresh.”

This little moments will collectively build a foundation for when you do have a more thorough discussion about puberty.

Ask Her To Notice The Differnece Between Girls and Teenage Girls

Source

Talking To Your Daughter About Her Breasts Development

When you are ready to sit your daughter here are some suggestions.

  • Find a time and place where both of you will not be interrupted. Make sure her brother’s are not around, because she may be a little embarrassed.
  • Make sure you are not telling her when you just had a fight or you two are disconnected because of something else.
  • Begin the conversation as naturally as you would discuss homework or other important topics.
  • “Maggie, you are growing up so fast! Mommy is so proud of you. I cannot believe you are now 8 years old. Soon you are going to be a teenager and before you know it you will be driving. So many amazing things are going to continue to happen for you. You might get your own cell phone one day.”
  • Tell her more than the changes in her body that are going to be wonderful for her. Tell her some positives that are going to happen like driving or getting a cell phone.
  • “Another amazing thing going to happen is your body is going to change. You know Victorious and Selena Gomez, right? How do you know they are a teenager and not a little girl anymore?”
  • Talk about teenagers she looks up too, or watches them on TV. It could also be a cousin or an older sister. Ask her to describe why they look like teenagers and not little girls.
  • “Yes, they are taller, they wear pretty clothes and fancy shoes, they may even be wearing makeup.” If your daughter is modest, you might need to help her identify the physical changes.
  • “Also, you may have noticed they have breasts like mommy has breasts. All girls grow from a baby, to a toddler, to a little girl, into a teenager and then into a woman. You have already changed from a baby, to a toddler, to a little girl and soon you will grow into a teenager like Victorious and Selena Gomez. You to will be growing breasts too.”
  • “It does not hurt, it does not happen overnight. Just like you grow bigger and taller, your breasts will begin to grow. Breasts are so important because they help mommies feed their babies. Women need their breasts to help nurture their babies, like I nurtured you when you were a baby.”
  • “Having breasts does not mean you will have a baby. They are there and ready for when you do have a baby.”

What is Puberty? Puberty in Girls

Recomended Books For Talking to Girls about Their Menstration

The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls, Revised Edition
The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls, Revised Edition

Great book for girls learning about their changing bodies.

 

A Gift For Your Daughter's First Period

A nice present for your daughter when she begins her period is a bath gift set.  This will honor her changing body as well as encourage her to take care of herself.
A nice present for your daughter when she begins her period is a bath gift set. This will honor her changing body as well as encourage her to take care of herself. | Source

How Do I Talk To My Daughter About Her Period

  • You can ask your daughter leading questions to see what she already knows.
  • “So, can you tell mommy, where babies come from?”
  • Most girls will point or say their stomach.
  • “Good job, yes babies develop in our abdomen. It sure does look like they grow in our stomachs, but actually they have a separate room to grow in different from where our food goes. Just like you, me, daddy and your brother live in this house, we all have our own separate rooms to sleep in.”
  • “The baby’s separate room is called the uterus. The uterus is like a special home, it takes care of the baby as she grows and develops in the mommy’s abdomen. In the uterus the baby will be fed and loved so she can grow.”
  • “Every month the uterus get’s ready for the baby. You know how we clean up the house when we are going to have guests over and make special dinners. Well, the uterus kind of does that too. It get’s ready for the baby. It begins to make something like a special blanket for the baby with the necessary fluids the baby will need to grow.”
  • “If there is no baby to grow in the uterus that month, the uterus will let go of this special blanket it made. This letting go is called a period or also known as a menstrual cycle.
  • “The next month the uterus will again make a special blanket for the baby, and let it go if the baby does not come. It is important when the baby does come that the blanket is fresh and new to help the baby develop and grow. That is why the uterus makes the blanket and then lets it go each month.”
  • “So where does the blanket go when the uterus sheds the fluids that were not needed each month because there was no baby?”
  • “The special fluids come out of the woman’s body. She does not need it in her. You know you have a special spot for your pee and poop to come out of. Well, you also have a special spot for your period or menstrual cycle to come out. It is called a vagina.”
  • “The vagina is very special and only girls have it. Boys do not have one. It is made especially to make babies.”
  • “When girls develop to become a teenager their body will do this amazing thing to get ready for a baby and then letting go of the blanket or fluids if the baby does not come. It happens to all teenage girls who are healthy like Taylor Swift. It will happen to you someday too.”
  • “It does not hurt. You might feel some discomfort like a muscle cramp, but there is medicine you can take to help ease the cramping if you feel it.”
  • “The blanket or fluids that come out, need to be collected so they do not run down your leg, because that would get messy. So, woman, like Taylor Swift or your Aunt Jenny use these products called pads and tampons.”
  • You can have them nearby to show her.
  • “We put them in our panties like this.” Show her how to put it in your underwear.
  • “This pad or tampon collects the fluids or blanket. I just change it every time I go to the bathroom and put a new one in.”
  • “Remember the uterus prepares the room one time a month and sheds the special blanket one time a month if the baby does not come. So you only need to do this for about 5 days during the month.”
  • You can show her on a calendar how you count the days and prepare for your period. You can even show her how to download an app on her phone or iPod.
  • “The fluid is actually blood. So the color will look red, sometimes pink and even sometimes will look like an earthy brown color. Often when we see blood we think there is a big scrap or ouch! But this blood is special.”
  • “Sometimes blood means other things like changes and growth. Remember when your tooth came out? There was a little blood that came out with your tooth. This did not mean you had a scrap in your mouth, but was part of the process of letting go of your tooth. Periods are kind of like that too. It is a letting go, not a hurt.”
  • “Someday, your breasts will begin to change and grow and you will also begin your period. You will know when you begin your period, when you go to the bathroom and wipe and notice blood on the toilet paper. Or you go to the bathroom and you will notice blood on your panties. Do not be scared, because remember, it is your uterus shedding the special blanket or fluids. And remember this is the blood that represents as a letting go, no the kind of blood that represents a hurt or a scrap.”
  • “On this day, you will have changed from a girl to a teenager or a woman. Tell me when this happens so I can do something extra special for you to celebrate. Maybe we could go and buy bath products, get your hair and nail done, and go out to lunch to celebrate.”

Talking To Your Daughter About Puberty

If You...
..She Will Most Likely Feel
Reason
Say, “We need to talk what is going to happen, down there.”
Shameful
If you cannot name her feminine body parts, than she experiences her body as something that needs to be hidden or shameful.
Avoid the topic and do not say anything.
Frighten
She may be terrified when she spots blood and has no idea why.
Hand her a book about puberty, and do not talk to her. You leave her to figure it all out on her own.
Humiliated
She may feel humiliated because this is something that is going to happen to her, and yet you cannot talk to her about it. She will internalize this as something that is wrong with her.
Source
The Red Tent - 20th Anniversary Edition: A Novel
The Red Tent - 20th Anniversary Edition: A Novel

This is an amazing book. Reading this book empowers female readers about their changing bodies, including menarche, childbirth, infant loss, infertility, and menopause.

 

Celebrating Girls Rite of Passage

Some cultures celebrate female transitions- either girl to womanhood or the transition from maiden to mother. During these rights of passage women gather together to honor and initiate the unique and powerful female change of one of their female friends or family members.

Initiating girls to womanhood has been around for centuries. Women used to gather in what was called “The Red Tent.” The red tent was a place women when they were menstruating. During their menstruation they would not work in the fields, cook in their homes or take care of older children. Instead, they would gather in the sacred space used only during times of menstruation and childbirth. At the red tent other women who were also menstruating nurtured each other. Together they would facilitate community, laughter, tears, personal care, as they shed their monthly cycle.

A girl was invited into the red tent when she had her menarche, also known as her first menstrual bleeding. She would be blessed, washed, and decorated with henna and beads. She would be welcomed into the community of other women with prayer, food and dance. She would be honored and celebrated for becoming a woman on that day.

Although, modern culture has come a long way from red tents it is still important for girls and women to revere the scared of their miraculous changing body.

Do you think girls would feel better about their bodies if we took time to celebrate and honor their changes with respect and reverence?

See results

If your mom was going to honor your menarche, which celebration would you prefer?

See results

Have A Menarche Celebration

Be prepared for your daughter to tell you she started her first menstrual cycle at age 8. It might seem early, however research continues to indicate girls show signs of breast buds before the age of 10 and some as early as 8 years old. The age of puberty continues to drop.

When she does tell you about her first sign of menstrual blood, or you notice the signs, begin to prepare to bless her.

You know your daughter well. Some daughters might feel mortified if you bring over all her aunts, older sisters, grandmother’s and your women friends to celebrate her first menstrual cycle. Other daughters might enjoy the company and the celebration with gifts. Decide what is best for your daughter, you could even ask her what she would like.

Take Your Daughter Out To Lunch

On a smaller scale, you could privately take her to lunch and buy her a nice pair of earrings.

A Women's Gathering

Invite all her older female relatives and friends. Have all of the guests sit in a circle. Using a large ball of yarn, silk or thread, encourage each female participant to tie the thread around their wrists, and then toss the thread to someone else across from them in the circle without cutting it. When the ball of thread lands in their lap, encourage each woman to pause and offer a blessing or advice to your daughter and maybe even their own story of their first period.

Eventually, as everyone ties the thread around their wrist and tosses it to someone else in the circle, a large web of thread develops. Everyone is connected. This web is the physical manifestation of the love and support that surrounds your daughter and welcomes her into a community of women as a woman.

Beads For A Special Ceremony

Source

Mail A Bead

If you would like to do something for your daughter, but feel a party will be too embarrassing or family is geographically too spread out to come, you could do a celebration through the mail. Ask all her female elders; aunts, grandmothers, older sisters and female family friends to find and purchase a special bead for your daughter. Ask them to mail the bead with a note describing a wish or blessing for your daughter now that she has come of age. Once the beads are collected, help your daughter to make a bracelet.


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    • profile image

      Sue87 2 years ago

      As a child my mother gave me a book about it and let me read it myself and I was quite happy about that but then we had "the talk" and that just embarrassed me so when I got my first period I didn't tell her. After I had 3 periods, I finally told her.... So much better than I thought it was going to be.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very well written on a very important topic and deservedly selected HOTD.

      Voted up, useful, awesome and shared.

    • profile image

      dicttrans 4 years ago

      Great site, nice post

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      Some wonderful suggestions here. Bookmarking it. My daughter is 11, and although she already knows most of the basics, there are going to be times when she wants more comprehensive answers. Thank you :)

    • mommyhood profile image

      Karla D 4 years ago

      What a thoughtful and informative hub! If I had a daughter I would've totally used the tips you have on here. Thanks for your insights, I had my period unexpectedly at 12, didn't have a clue as to what to do! kudos to all the mothers that celebrate these crucial moments in a daughter's life that lets them embark on a whole new way of seeing life.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Carly,

      What a great article on an often difficult or awkward subject for mother's and young daughters. great ideas and suggestions! Well deserved HOTD !

      Voted up +++++. I have seen my brother and sister-in-law celebrate my nieces becoming "women" and thought it was marvelous, done in an open manner which made the girls comfortable. Well done on excellent writing!

    • KawikaChann profile image

      KawikaChann 4 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      This is such a great tool of reference - I wish I had it when my daughter was going through the pre-teens. Well done. Upvoted/awesome/following. Peace. Kawi.

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      This was a thoughtful and insightful article on a very sensitive issue for a young girl transitioning into womanhood. In particularly, I thought your Poll question, "Do you think girls would feel better about their bodies if we took time to celebrate and honor their changes with respect and reverence?" significant. I think young girls would benefit if we did take out the time to celebrate, respect and discuss the changes that they are going through physically, mentally and emotionally. Ignoring this special time in their lives could leave a young girl even more confused, frightened and insecure about the situation rather than embracing it. Great article! Thanks for sharing. (Voted up)

    • faythef profile image

      Faythe F. 4 years ago from USA

      great hub passing this on to my daughter..for my grand daughter.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 4 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      This is EXCELLENT!

      I grew up in an environment where some girls had babies before graduating from high school (fortunately, I was removed from that by being sent to a Christian school). Nowadays, that sort of thing is very common in the inner city; in some cases, they get pregnant before their first period! In an environment like that, girls are far more likely to have negative feelings about their bodies. It's like developing is an invitation to be exploited.

      Even if you can't control your environment, knowledge is by far the best defense. At least the girl knows and understands what's happening to her, which makes her better able to avoid exploitation. The Christian school I attended educated me fully on such matters; that helped me escape the negative environment altogether.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 4 years ago from New Jersey

      Thank goodness I do not have to have any of these kinds of talks for almost a decade.

      Congratulations on your Hub of the Day!

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Teaches, I always appreciate you stopping by and supporting me, my friend. I am glad you had your sisters to talk too.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      ComfortB, thank you for stopping by and commenting. Glad you liked the video, it was the first time I made one like this.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Mary, thank for commenting. It seems as each generation progresses mothers are becoming more comfortable talking to their daughters. Also, there are many terrific books out there, that are kid friendly.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      NornsMercy, I appreciate you stopping by. I think many females would wish it was a once in a lifetime event.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      SidKemp, I love that you stopped by and appreciate the information, even though you are in such a different phase of life.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Patty, thank you for your compliment. I too hope we can all approach our young girls about this information in a positive and validating way.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thank you, Vertualit.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Kathryn, thank you for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate your feedback.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      I don't have any kids right now, but I have always been curious how parents approach this touchy subject. I like how you explain it, and I will keep this in mind for when I need the information someday. Thanks for sharing this with us, and congrats on being awarded HOTD. You definitely earned it!

    • vertualit profile image

      Abdus Salam 4 years ago from Bangladesh

      Useful and informative article about puberty. Thanks for sharing...

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      This HOTD is beautiful throughout and so different from my own experience during that time, that I'd like to see this Hub handed out to every parent for future use. I hope that parents would all use the information in it to make our girls and young women healthier overall.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 4 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      My wife and I could not have children, and I am a man in my fifties, so this event is very distant from my own life. Nonetheless, I want to honor your own reverence and what you are sharing.

      I found the passage about womb as the baby's first room and the uterus as a blanket for the baby just beautiful.

      Yes, we have come a long way from the red tent, from our connection to Earth and the things that we share with animals that are a wonderful sign of our humanity. Technological society has brought many benefits. But let us also restore what we have lost.

      Voted up, awesome, and beautiful.

    • NornsMercy profile image

      Chace 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Congratulations on HotD! :) What an awesome hub. I know someone who needed to read this when I was younger... I thought a period was a once in a lifetime thing and you had to hurry and catch it like a baseball!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Congrats on HOTD. You have written an excellent Hub on the subject of puberty. When I was growing up, my Mother never explained anything to me, and I was very frightened when I saw blood in my underwear! I thought something terrible was going on.

      I raised four daughters and I can certainly relate to this subject. Unlike my Mother, I had "the talk" with my girls. To my surprise, they had already discussed the subject with their friends.

      I like the way you refer to "the blanket" in the uterus.

      Voted UP and shared.

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      Excellent hub with an accompanying video that makes reading it easy. Congrats on the HOTD award. Well deserved

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      This is a great article for parents to keep on file for the time when the topic needs addressed. I remember how awkward it was for me to ask my sisters (not my mom) about this issue. Voted up.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Your daughter has a great question. Thanks for stopping by, reading, commenting and voting up.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      great article. My daughter once asked me, why don't men have mensus? It is so troublesome for girls ! She's a teenage now. Voted up

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Khmazz, I wish my mom did too! :) But, I am so lucky to have a girl and will be able to initiate her. I think we will do the mail a bed in honor of her womanhood when that time comes.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great job with this topic, Carly! This is a wonderful resource for all moms and their daughters.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Vacation Trip, thank you for stopping by and reading and commenting.

    • khmazz profile image

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      I wish my parents would have read this hub when I was younger...Wonderful hub with such thought out advice!

    • Vacation Trip profile image

      Susan 4 years ago from India

      Excellent hub for parents to take care of their growing daughters. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      Yes, it was. I was 11 or 12. thanks for sharing this gem.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Lovedoctor, Oh, no that must of been so frightening for you. Girls are getting their periods earlier and earlier. I think, I was 9 or 10 years old.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      LOL, Shiningirisheyes, a period is at the end of the sentence. Yes, I agree generations have different ways of managing development and the 'sex' talk. I hope we are moving in a direction where mom's and daughters can more openly talk about their periods.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      An excellent hub. I freaked out when I saw blood in my underwear for the first time. My mom said she had not mentioned anything because she thought I was too young. LOL. thanks for sharing.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      This is such a helpful tool for daughters and parents as well. It doesn't compare to the generation I was raised in. I first asked my Mom what a period was. She told me it was a dot at the end of a sentence. LOL

      Don't get me wrong, my Mom was is and always has been great but it was a different time then. It also made it a more difficult time.