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April 23, 2008



The questions here start with "What's that?" r.e. a tampon or pad. I say "It's a pad/tampon. A little blood comes out of Mama sometimes. It only happens to big, grown up girls and women." So far, no interest in anything beyond that. Interested to hear what others have to say, though.


Mom of boys, who also ask "what's that?" when invading their mothers privacy in the bathroom. It's been awhile, but I think my reply was something along the lines of "I'm having my period. Moms and big girls get them every month when there is no baby in their womb. If there's a baby in their womb the blood helps to cushion and feed their baby. If not, I don't need it, so I bleed a little (it doesn't hurt) and this pad/tampon helps to keep it from being messy." It really cracked me up when my boys would build little towers out of my tampons or show up with a pad stuck on the bottom of their feet.


lisak's answer is perfect.

When my 2-year-old (at the time) asked what a (wrapped) tampon was, I told her "it's a tampon" (not explaining what it was for, as that was not the question) and she said, "No it's not, it's a lollipop!" More recently she observed that the water in the toilet was red when she was in a bathroom with me and I gave an explanation similar to lisak's.

Incidentally, I hope this won't be the case for you, but my cramps came back worse than ever after I weaned #2. (And I gained 12 pounds like, instantaneously, which are NOT. COMING. OFF.) (Lesson: NEVER WEAN. NOT EVER.) (She was 19 months old at the time and I went on a 2-week trip.....)

It's funny, actually, that you mentioned Moxie's post about unresolved issues with your own parents in the same post about talking about menstruation with your kids, because that's one area I wanted to handle better with my kids than was handled with me. As I start to discuss these issues with my 8-year-old, these issues are definitely at the forefront of my mind!


Great answer Lisa K! My sons have started to question me about this issue and I have responded with blank stares...

Oh, and Moxie's post!! I have already started to write down the things that bothered me about my mother and her parenting- and she was a great mother. It's very difficult to face.


I've always been matter of fact. Since I don't have regular periods, I was actually glad when the opportunity arose to be able to explain simply, so it would just be a fact of life, not a big mystery later.

I used the easy story "the blood makes a bed for the baby every month. If there is a baby, then the bed is used to take care of the baby inside the mama, if there isn't a baby, then the blood has to go away, and that's why mama is having blood now. then there will be a new bed being made."

If asked, I'd say that only grown ups get their period - at 4, a really big girl is 5 :-).

I built on this year by year, until now I have an almost 12 year old who knows all - and is carrying an "emergency pad" in case she starts at school. Ack. When did she get so big.

(and yes, I explained it to my son too as the opportunity arose.)

Anne Glamore

I have sons, and when they were older I made sure to emphasize that a period can make a lady feel less than fabulous. A son who's aware that Mom is having her period should ask, "Do you need a backrub?" or alternatively, "Can I get you some chocolate?"

I'm assuming their wives will be very, very grateful.


when my daughter was small she asked about the blood. I just told her it was something big girls have and when she's a big girl I'll tell her all about it. She was satisfied with that answer--we had the big talk last year when she turned 8.


When my 2 year old has asked what a tampon is, I say it's my diaper. Is that wrong? I guess I just figured it was something she could understand. Seems like explaining a period would be less traumatic to a little kid if you didn't use the word blood. That's not entirely what it is anyway. Could you say liquid or gunk or something in place of blood?

liz s

The above is all good. Mom daughter was the "why" queen, so one answer always led to "why, mommy, why" So I had to have the next answer ready and give very short answers to that I had something else to say after her "why"

I am sending a forward to you that should give you a good laugh.


no advice, but I wanted to thank you for a good laugh at the personification of your uterus. :D


I don't even remember what I told my daughter and she is 7. I believe I just told her that it was a period and she would get one when she was older. I started at 9 so I certainly won't say when she is a grown up. My mother was 10 and I was 9 and I will die if she gets hers at 8!


So far when my kids have asked, i have kept it extremely simply and just said, "Oh, that's a pad," or "It's just something that grownup girls need to use sometimes," and they haven't asked beyond that. I have no idea what i'll actually say when they ask for more specifics.

I think i'm better at spur of the moment answers than well-thought-out ones.


Connor (4 yrs) asked me what I was putting in my pee-pee. I told him it was a tampon, and that grown up girls use them. He was fine with that answer. Audrey (17 months), however, thinks they are a great toy. She loves to take out the Multi-Pack box and take them in and out, carry them around the house with her, etc. I draw the line at chewing on the cardboard on the rare occasion that she can get them out of the wrapper. And...how clever is the baby bed explanation? I would never have thought of it. I will totally use that when more questions are asked.


FWIW, I told my dd that grownup girls get their period - when she was 4.

When she was 7, I was explaining menstruation a lot more. My mom was also 10 when hers started. I was 12. I'm thankful that my dd did not start at 10, but I wanted her prepared!

Just to explain that my philosophy was and is to keep it as simple as possible for the age, but factual and no stories. I talk about things now with my tween and teen that my mom and dad never even mentioned with me. That foundation when they were toddlers/preschoolers has helped ME more than them, I think :-).


I think these are all good suggestions--I would just err on the side of reassurance, that it's totally normal, and that it doesn't hurt. I still remember being freaked out as a young kid by our cat finding a bloody tampon, when my parents gave me a vague explanation, but never really bothered to fill in the blanks later.


my 10 year old daughter just watched "the movie" at school. I asked her if she had any questions and she said, "No. I know everything already. You told me." Oh- I guess I did, here and there through the years without ever getting too caught up in it. I think I just said things similar to what the other commentors have said, "Big girls and mommies need to use these things soemtimes..." etc. etc. and expanded from there. I nevern remember any of my kids getting upset about seeing blood or hearing the word blood. I must have reassured them that it was a diiferent kind if blood that didn't come from a boo-boo. I did give my daughter the American Girl care and Keeping of Me book when she was 8. It does a really good job of explaining all sorts of "girlie" things.

I am so happy to hear that my children are not the only ones who play with (unused) tampons! I will catch my youngest with them- he thinks they are "bombs". I'll email you a funny picture of him spelling with my OBs.


I had the same experience at about the same age, and I explained it this way: "You know how babies grow inside a woman's uterus? A woman's body uses blood to make a cushion to help protect the baby, but when there's no baby, the cushion isn't needed and it comes out. It doesn't hurt, and it's completely normal."

I didn't want to present a lot of different visual imagery, so I left out the blood/umbilical cord/feeding function of the blood and just went with the cushion idea. That seemed to do the trick, although of course they asked more than once and wanted to see the used pads a few times before they moved onto other things.

Good luck, hope that helps you formulate your responses....


Yeah, I just take the matter of fact approach with both my girl (5) and boy (3) child-- grownup girls have a little blood come out of their vaginas a couple of days every month. The tampon keeps it from being messy. The blood looks like a a lot, but it's not really a big deal and it doesn't hurt (I'm saving cramps, bloating, etc. for later). I tell them it's kind of a private thing and they can talk to me about it when we're alone, but not in front of other people. I also told them never to play with my supplies; I remember my little sisters playing with some tampon rockets before they had any clue what they were.


Because I'd want my kids to rush to tell me if THEY ever bled from there, I'd be careful to be clear that it's something that happens to teenaged and adult women. I went with something along the lines of that it looked like blood but that it was actually the padding for the inside of the "special baby tummy" (my older kids know the word uterus NOW, but didn't then), a padding in case a baby started to grow, and that every month the old padding came out if there was no baby.


I, too, like to stick with the facts. I also think how you approach it depends on the kid(s). My four year old daughter is extremely interested in the mechanics of how things work (including the body), and she does not shy away from blood or other bodily fluids. Other kids might freak about blood, I assume, so that might require a different approach.

A related story: Our family was enroute to England, at the airport between flights, and I had just started my period (perfect timing!) I needed to change my tampon, so told my husband that I was headed to the bathroom. He said, you take (the four year old), and as we were in a very public place (I was hesitant to go into why I wanted my privacy), with little time to spare, I had to take her. Up until now she hasn't really noticed anything period-related, but I figured a couple of minutes with me in a bathroom stall -- well, there wouldn't be any avoiding it. And this was not where I wanted to have this discussion, in a busy public bathroom! I forget how I distracted her, but I will tell you it was the fastest tampon change I have ever done! And I escaped without having to tell the whole bathroom why I was bleeding.

Jen A

My DD was 2.5 or 3 when she first asked (she followed me into the bathroom ALL the time), and I told her, "Sometimes mommies bleed from their vaginas. But it only happens to mommies. Not daddies and not little girls." (In retrospect, I probably should have said "grown up women" instead of "mommies," since that covers teenagers and women who haven't had children.) I remember that her eyes got really big when I said the first sentence, and then I could see the obvious relief on her face when I said the last two sentences.

Then, she asked what the pad was, and I told her, "It's a pad. It catches the blood so my underwear doesn't get dirty." She noticed that I kept the pads under the sink, so for a while, every time I went to the bathroom, she'd ask if she could get the pad for me, LOL. She's 4 now, and the novelty has worn off.


I told my son that once a month my uterus cleans itself out and that it takes a couple of days, it doesn't hurt, and the tampons and pads are for keeping my clothes clean. And please don't touch the used tampons and pads I've put in the trash, because the strings of the tampons have been near my tushie.


Well, my son announced to me that I had red poop, and that I needed a diaper and soon would get big boy underpants.

I think I gave some such explanation as explained above. They seem satisfied. We've had to explain daddy's use of a suprapubic catheter so I think they are used to strange tails of the ways we handle our own biowaste. But still entertaining questions, aren't they?

I keep wondering at what age I should take a stand and shut them out of the bathroom. Privacy would be nice sometimes.


May I comment, even though I'm new here?

I prepared for this talk by starting earlier with any sort of bleed. I often said to my girl that not all bleeds are bad. That blood can be a sign of something bad, but that blood is sometimes a sign that all is good and well.

It's true, right?

But anyway - my girl was never alarmed with my menstrual discharge when she noticed it.

I tell her babies don't have teeth until they're older. Girls develop breasts when they're older. Boys develop facial hair when they get to the right age (and it's different for different people).

And girls don't bleed until they get to the right age either. But that though it requires "keeping clean" with pads and such (I use a Diva Cup), it's otherwise a good thing because it is all part of what allowed me to have birthed her.

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