Q: When should we talk to our eight-year-old daughter about menstruation, and what’s the best way to go about it?
A: Girls in Canada can expect to get their first periods sometime between the ages of nine and 16; the average is around 12½. So I recommend that you talk to your daughter about the changes her body will be undergoing well in advance.
About 2½ years before her first period, your daughter will notice the beginnings of breasts, called breast buds. This is usually the first sign of physical maturation in girls, and it’s a good cue for you to start the conversation about “getting her period.” That said, some of her friends may be further along in their development — so even if she appears to be a late bloomer (as you may have been), it’s a good idea to have a chat by her 10th birthday.
I hope you’ve already discussed some aspects of physical development and how important it is for your daughter to respect her body. Don’t wait for her to ask outright; take the opportunity when she sees you dressing or in the bath, or has questions about something she has seen on TV.
If your answer is more information than she needs right now, she will ignore it. Still, you’ll have sent the signal that you are open and ready to discuss anything and everything.
I like using books to help out, so check what’s available in bookstores, and choose one that suits your style. Have fun.