Having the “period talk” is tough for any parent, but especially Dads! Keep reading to find out how to have the talk and make it much easier!
It can be challenging, as a single father, to raise a daughter with special needs. Not only will you learn how to structure her day and help her stick to her routines, but you will also need to help her through potentially disruptive changes. Puberty, and having her period, is one of those significant changes.
5 Tips for Single Dads Having “The Period” Talk.
The good news is, there are ways to lessen the impact of puberty on both you and your daughter. And the other good news is, you don’t need to do this alone. You can seek the help of her school, close female friends and relatives, and of research, to understand more about what’s happening and how you can help your daughter.
Tip #1: Prepare yourself first
For any daughter, getting her period is something new, a sign of change, and can feel stressful and disruptive. As her father, you are a source of familiarity and stability. So before you have anything approaching the period talk with your daughter, familiarize yourself with some details first. Here are some points you might want to be familiar with:
- The science behind a woman’s period
- The once-a-month cycles
- The emotional changes right before her period
Practice how to explain it. The thought of it can be disruptive, the fact of it even more so. Prepare to discuss and explain it continuously over time.
Tip #2: Introduce her period in an established part of her routine
Your daughter probably already has a set routine for her day. If you help your daughter with any of her lessons, or you have a part of her day where you sit down and talk with her, you can bring up her period there. Especially if it’s part of her lesson routine, she will see it as something she needs to learn, but not something to be afraid of. Explain that it is something that will happen when she is older, about once a month and that you’ll help her when it happens.
Tip #3: Use visual and tactile supports
If you spread the period, talk over several “lessons,” it will also give you time to use visual supports. This reinforces the feeling that it is something to learn and also helps her to put visuals and tangibility to what a period is. Here are some lessons you can use visual supports for:
- What happens during her period
- The cycle of having her period
- How to use pads or tampons
If she can see and visualize what happens during her period, it will also help you to remind her of the lesson in the long run, when she already has her period. Explaining the cycle helps her start thinking of her period in terms of time. Lastly, diagrams on how to use beginner pads or tampons can also give her a picture of how she will respond when she has a period.
You can even turn it into a physical exercise: how to unwrap a pad, where to place it, and how to dispose of it properly. It becomes a simple but easily repeatable lesson.
Tip #4: Get her used to stocking pads or tampons
After you have the first part of the talk, as she gets older, normalize the presence of pads and tampons in her life. She can have a particular drawer or box where they are stored, and remind her they are after that she dresses up. You can also introduce the idea of bringing them around this early.
When she gets older, make it part of her bag’s checklist. Please put them in a specific place, and ask her to check where they are for you. Making it a part of her regular bag contents will help her manage better when her period comes.
Tip #5: Confirm what is normal in having a period
As she gets older, you can start incorporating other details into what to expect. Confirm that certain things are normal, like stronger emotions, period irregularity, and other body changes. Confirm also that having a period is something she talks about only with you and with teachers or staff members, not something others have to know about. The more prepared you both are mentally, the more you can help her navigate the actual physical changes when the time comes.
Connect with the routine
Planning how to help your daughter think through this new experience, preparing the lessons and visual supports, can also help you manage stress and the thought of newness that comes with having a daughter reach adolescence. Connect with her routine, become comfortable, and adjust to respond to what she needs.