How To Effectively Explain Periods To Your Young Child

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I recently saw a meme floating around the internet that made me absolutely cringe… and not in a good cringe, haha funny kind of way, either. It was in a super judgmental way, “Why would you even say that?” kind of way.

The meme was about a mother explaining her period to her toddler, and the words she chose were something like, “Sometimes mommies have red poop.”

Even worse is the fact I have since seen this meme floating around some very popular parenting accounts, thus influencing more moms to explain periods as red poop. *Commence forehead slap.*

Parents please, for the love of humanity and your child’s long term well-being, stop explaining things in “cutesy” and downright bizarre ways.

How in the world can you tell me teaching your child that “mommies have red poop” is better than teaching them WOMEN have periods once a month?

Also, what will your response be when they inevitably wonder why mommies have red poop or have follow-up questions they expect answers to? Better yet, what happens when they actually need to know about periods and female anatomy? Surely, you aren’t sticking to the red poop theory forever. Do you see what is happening here? You are creating an entire web of lies you won’t be able to maintain for very long.

mother sits on a bench with her two children at her side
Courtesy of Benjamin Manley (via Unsplash)

Good Intentions

While I understand no one has bad intentions when they explain things like this to their children, I do think we have an immense responsibility as parents to teach our children the truth and not sugar coat things for them.

I also realize our children typically catch us off guard with these questions and because we so badly want to give them an answer, we think of some clever little way to get them to stop asking and wondering about the thing we don’t want to talk about yet.

Sometimes, we teach our children incorrectly as early as infancy, whether we realize it or not. Take body parts, for example. I know so many parents who have named their child’s private parts cutesy things like “flower” or “little friend,” instead of using the correct term of penis or vagina.

Children, even toddlers, are fully capable of learning the truth and facts about topics that seem too “grown-up” or mature for them.

The Encounter

There you are in all your womanly glory, sitting on the toilet, legs spread, back hunched, getting ready to insert another tampon or change your pad for the hundredth time today when…

“MOM?! Why are you bleeding?!”

Ugh. Your palms begin to sweat and you start racking your brain for possible ways to explain this to the horrified human staring at you like you’re some sort of science experiment gone wrong.

For the love of all things holy, woman, PLEASE do not tell them, “Sometimes mommies have red poop.” 

mother stands in doorway while child stands in front of her looking up
Courtesy of Sharon McCutcheon (via Unsplash)

Just Be Honest

“Oh, this? Mommy just has her period right now. It’s nothing to worry about.”

*Mic drop.*

Seriously, it is THAT EASY! No need for some traumatizing response that will leave them wondering when they will start having red poop and how they can avoid it. Just good old fashion facts. Imagine that.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “It cannot be that easy,” or, “What if they ask what a period is?” And to that, I say, I gotchu, girlfriend!

You could follow up with something like, “All women have periods and every month, we bleed a little.” Or, “A period is something women have before they can have a baby.” Or, “A period is something I will teach you about when you’re a little older.”

Do you see how easy this can be? 

mother sits on floor with her daughter at her side
Courtesy of Jonathan Borba (via Unsplash)

How To Explain Periods To Your Child

Depending on how old your child is and/or how much they know about pregnancy, you may need to make some changes to how you would respond.

Because my daughter knew from a young age women had periods and women could also have babies, here is how our conversation went:

“When girls get older, their bodies start getting ready to have babies. Since babies grow inside the woman’s body, there is a sort of balloon in there called a uterus. Once a month, that uterus (or balloon) fills up with blood because that’s what babies need to survive and grow. If no baby is made in the uterus, that blood has to come out and that is why women bleed.”

While I realize using words like “balloon” could be considered “code,” I would argue it is kid-friendly without being false or misleading. Children are highly visible creatures, so I find using familiar images or objects is helpful when describing something.

The Takeaway

The bottom line when it comes to this and other hard topics that are sure to come up is to keep things simple and don’t feel like you have to answer every question they ask in detail. Some things really are TMI, even for kids.

mother holds her daughter close to her face, both smile
Courtesy of Jhon David (via Unsplash)

This article was submitted to Love What Matters  by Emmy Bennett from Oakdale, California. You can follow her journey on  Instagram and her website. Submit your own story hereand be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Emmy here:

‘Sometimes babies cry. As long as they’re changed and fed, they don’t always need to be figured out.’: Mom shares newborn parenting advice

How To Establish A Consistent Bedtime Routine With Your Baby

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