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Preparing Your Daughter for Changes

If your daughter had grown up 150 years ago, she could have expected her first period around age 16.

Today, the average age for that milestone is 12. Nutrition, evolution, and hormones in our food contributed to that change. But whatever the reasons, girls are left with questions about their sexuality earlier in life--and parents have to know how to handle them.

Tips for talking

  • Begin appropriately naming body parts by the time your child is a toddler.

  • Teach your daughter that these changes are no cause for shame. She should feel pride as she starts to become a woman.

  • Explain that despite these changes, she is not ready for adulthood. Becoming a woman is part of a process that will involve many other steps.

  • Prepare a kit your daughter can keep in a purse or school locker with the products she'll need for her first menstrual cycle. Explain the bleeding and tell her it is no reason for fear. Explain that it is another part of her body--like her teeth--that she must care for.

  • Go to the library. Look for easy-to-read materials.

  • Volunteer information. Don't just answer questions.