How to Handle Your Tween’s First Period


Do you remember your first period? Before my first one arrived, I remember voraciously reading and re-reading the classic “Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret,” which, although it really meant to prepare its readers for what to expect, woefully fell short, largely due to some serious issues with period products just changing way too fast for the times. Even my own mother had no real recollection of pads with belts. So, though my first cycle, at age 11, was memorable, it was largely a non-event. Products were handed to me, there were shopping trips over time where we tried to figure out what might work best, and that was it.

In some ways, not a lot has changed. When my daughter came to me, at age ten and a half and said, “Um, mom…” I did basically the same thing my mother did, offered her what product I had on hand (not much since I had a hysterectomy a year ago), and went shopping with her the next day. 

In some other, very key ways, so much has changed. The products out there are so much better and more varied.

Period Products in the Market Today

Period Panties

Period panties come in a wide variety of price points, absorbency, patterns, and fits. You can find them on the shelves at Walmart, scrolling through Amazon, or from well-known brands like Knix, Thinx, and RubyLove.

Period panties are amazing for providing full coverage (no leaks!) for both day and nighttime wear. Many of these brands also offer swimwear, which is a game-changer, especially here in South Carolina where we like to be in the water from May to October. 


The usual varieties of pads exist, except many are now offered with a lot fewer chemicals, and more natural options are widely available. There are even brands that offer special sizing for teens!

Tampons and Menstrual Cups

For your young tween/teen, tampons may be a challenge. From a casual survey of other mothers with daughters the same age as mine (and from my own recollections), tampons can be difficult, if not impossibly uncomfortable, until they are a little older. Likewise, menstrual cups (which I will be honest, I was nervous about them at first) may be a hard sell until their bodies mature a bit and they get more familiar with their anatomy.

Smaller, even low cervix options, exist that your older teens may be willing to try. I absolutely loved my menstrual cup, and it’s a great option. Made of medical-grade silicone, these last for years with proper cleaning, and are surprisingly easy to manage once you get the hang of it. 

As a side note, you can use FSA/HSA money on period products. This is definitely something you’ll want to take advantage of since the monthly cost of period products can add up!

When my daughter first got her period, she asked me a lot of questions. Below is what she asked and how I responded. Hopefully, these can be of help to you and your daughter as well. 

Questions My Daughter Asked About Her Period

So when will this stop?

A period can last anywhere from three to seven days. If it lasts longer than seven days on a regular basis, we probably should talk to your doctor.

How do I know when it’s coming?

There’s an app for that! Literally, the first thing we did was download an app to track her cycle. My daughter doesn’t have a phone, but she does have a Kindle Fire. Yes, most of the apps are more designed toward fertility and have fields that she has no use for. But, as long as the app can reliably track her cycles, and has a section for her to write notes/journal, it’s fine. Granted, we did also talk about how cycles are unpredictable, and usually it’s about every 28 days, but every body is different.

Why did it stop, and then start again?

Mother Nature is a beast. She likes to keep you on your toes and guessing. 

Can I go in the ocean when I have my period? What about sharks?

You can continue to swim, even on your cycle. Generally, we don’t bleed enough to attract any sharks. (I Googled this, just to make sure.) 

Who else needs to know?

Only whoever you want to tell. If you are staying overnight at a relative’s house, they should probably know, just so they can be prepared if need be. Your doctor definitely will want to know, it’s a medical sort of question. Other than that, your body is your business. 

There are some families that go all out and make the first period a big deal. I ordered my daughter the “First Period Kit” from RubyLove. There are a variety of products and goodies in the kit that I really liked, and I thought it would be a fun gesture. More than anything, I just wanted to focus on the fact that periods, menstruation, time of the month, whatever you want to call it, is just part of life. My boys are a little grossed out by it, but we emphasized that it’s just like any other bodily function. It happens, it’s okay, and really not a big deal. 

If your daughter(s) have crossed that divide, how did you handle it? What words of wisdom or advice do you have? 


All products featured are independently selected and recommended by our writer. As an Amazon Associate, Columbia Mom earns from qualifying purchases.
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Katrina is a mom of three great kids and has been married to her first love for nearly 10 years. She’s grateful to have a job that allows her the flexibility to both work from home some days and in the office others. On the surface, Katrina is pretty crunchy – she loves breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, natural birth, and homeschooling — but still loves her stroller, having her kids in their own beds at some point, her epidural was fantastic, and she’ll be sending the kids through public school. Most of all she loves the fact that we have all these choices, which makes life interesting! One of her favorite experiences was moving to Japan in 2002 to live as an adult dependent with their USMC family. It was an amazing experience, and if it weren’t for that, she probably wouldn’t ever have met my husband.


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