Beginning Menstruation While Away from Home

Menstruation can arrive unexpectedly, here's what to do

School girl (12-14) walking up steps in school, elevated view
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Question: My daughter is worried about getting her first period at school or summer camp. How can I help her prepare herself? 

Many girls are worried that they'll get their first period at school, camp, or when their mother isn't around to help. While you have no control over when your daughter's period will begin, you can prepare her for the unexpected. Here's what you should know.

Answer: Many tween girls worry about when their period will begin.

Will it be while they're at school, camp, or even a friend's sleepover? The unknown can be scary to a tween whose never had to deal with menstruation before. But you can help prepare your daughter for the unexpected, and ease her anxieties.

For starters, it's important that you talk with your daughter about what to expect when her period begins. Explain some of the common changes a girl might experience before her period starts such as cramps, headaches, a lack of energy, headache, mood swings, and a feeling of wetness on her underpants, etc. Also, take the time to show her how to properly use a pad, so that if you're not there, she'll know what to do.

Explain to your child that if she thinks her period has arrived, she needs to ask for permission to go to the girls bathroom to check. (It's a good idea for all tween girls to keep a pad in their book bags or school lockers, just in case. A small pad can easily fit into a change purse, or a small handbag.) If your daughter doesn't have a pad, instruct her to go the school nurse right away.

The nurse will be able to provide her with one. Some schools have sanitary napkin machines in the rest rooms, but don't rely on them. They don't always work, and may not be stocked. Friends may also be able to provide your tween with the supplies she needs, but it's best if your tween only uses them as a last resort.


Period Strategy: Think Ahead

If your tween daughter is headed to camp or someplace else for an extended period of time, you'll need to think ahead. Pack a few pads in her suitcase, and a letter to give to her counselor should she get her first period while she's away. The letter should explain the situation, as well as other information her counselor might need to know about. Make sure your daughter understands that she is to give the letter to her counselor only if her first period comes. Also, explain to your daughter that if her first period comes while she's at camp, she may need to sit out on swimming until her flow has ended.

Be sure your daughter is well informed about menstruation and the normal changes of puberty. There are many wonderful resources available today that truly help girls through these changes in positive ways. In addition, if you help your daughter learn to track her period once she's begun to menstruate, that will help ease her stress and anxiety a little.

The best way to ease a girl's anxiety about menstruation is by informing her, so that when the change comes, she's prepared and confident.

Getting her period can be stressful to a preteen, but with a little information and assistance from you, she'll face the changes with confidence. By prepping your daughter, she'll know that there is no reason to worry about when her period will begin, because when it does begin, she'll be ready.

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