Talking To Your Child About Menstruation: Parents Here Are Some Tips
World Menstrual Hygiene Day strives to create awareness about menstruation and debunk myths around it. More awareness can help prevent diseases and health issues linked with poor menstrual hygiene.
The onset of menstruation is a major event in a woman's life
- World Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed on 28 May every year
- It is crucial to educate and inform your children about periods
- Monthly menstrual cycle is a natural phenomenon
Menstruation is a natural part of a woman's life. World Menstruation Hygiene Day tries to eradicate stigma and taboo associated with menstrual cycle. It tries to inform people about different personal hygiene tips that should be followed during the monthly period. The menstrual cycles usually begins between 10-16 years of age. It is extremely important to educate and inform children around this subject so that they experience a healthy and happy period every month. Many parents find it challenging to make their teenager understand menstruation. Here are some that might help.
How to start a conversation on periods?
P - Prepare, in advance:
Undoubtedly, conversations on this subject may start at school well before young adolescent needs their first sanitary napkin. So, talking about periods from an early age is important to keep them prepared. We have to be mindful of the fact that they are young kids, at an impressionable age, and how we set up the discussion will go a long away in retaining that information. The fear and sense of shame, associated with periods, is perpetuated into adulthood. The other important thing, to keep in mind, is that they are also terrified and intimidated seeing this change in their bodies.
E - Ease into the conversation:
It is important to have several sessions of conversations, distributed over a number of days, as opposed to having that 'One Big Talk'. This conversation should take place within family, school and at the society level to challenge the existing prolonged culture of silence.
R - Reiterate, it is completely normal:
A child may spiral into prolonged bouts of self-doubt, worry, and embarrassment. Therefore, it is imperative to reiterate that periods are completely normal.
I - Initiating, subtly:
A way to initiating this subject may be to relate the phenomenon with communication featuring a child's role models or relating it with a regular skin/hair-care routine - the idea being to establish it as a routine day-to-day affair.
O - Observe:
Periods happen because of changes in hormones in the body. Hormones are chemical messengers, which are accompanied by changes in behaviour patterns as well. As a parent, guardian, it is important to note these changes in an adolescent for timely interventions. Often, infections arising out of use of unhygienic sanitary napkins, may also not be reported. It is important to observe any pain, or discomfort, a child may be going through.
D - Develop self-worth:
On the days leading up to an adolescent's period, the progesterone and oestrogen levels plummet, which may cause water retention, acne flare up, and insomnia. While different individuals have many different symptoms, it eventually leads to loss of self-worth. It is here, that parents and guardians must prioritise self-care - mental and physical well-being -- of young adolescents; by elevating mood swings through social activities, keeping the body hydrated to counter puffiness/ bloating, introducing mindfulness and skin-care routines to keep a check on skin reactions.
For a larger change to reflect in the society, it must begin at our homes, first.
(Mr. Divyang Waghela is Head - Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH) at Tata Trusts.)
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