Girls, periods and missing school

IT may feel like yesterday when you were teaching your little girl the alphabets. And now, right before your eyes, she is growing into a woman. As she develops, she is bound to have questions about the physical and emotional changes of puberty.
Girls need to be sensitised about menstruation in order to keep them at school.
Girls need to be sensitised about menstruation in order to keep them at school.

IT may feel like yesterday when you were teaching your little girl the alphabets. And now, right before your eyes, she is growing into a woman. As she develops, she is bound to have questions about the physical and emotional changes of puberty.

As a parent, it is your duty to listen to her concerns and keep your lines of communication open. One concern is the female menstrual cycle. It is a much hidden-subject, yet very costly in terms of life, time and money.

Unfortunately, the menstruation issue is not taken seriously. Some of the most common reasons why girls and women are frequently absent at school and work, is due to the absence of health and hygienic education, private conditions and sustained access to affordable high quality pads for menstruation.

This situation is made worse by the fact that discussing the issue of menstruation is taboo in many societies.  But we  shouldn’t shy away from  natural occurances.

The start of menstruation is a momentous event in a girl’s life. Some girls greet those first drops of blood with joy or relief, while others feel bewildered and scared. Whatever the reaction, the arrival of the first period holds the same meaning for every girl. It is proof that she is becoming a woman.

Parents neen to be helpful towards their daughters.
Fourteen year-old Sandra narrates of how she quit going to school after experiencing a fateful day.

“I realized I had bloody spots when I got up to give an answer in class. John insisted that I sit down because I was not fit to be seen by students. Was I so dull to provide an answer, so I thought? Until he barked, ‘can’t you sense your bottom is leaking?’

I could not stand the humiliation at school any more. I decided to go home since I could not afford to buy the sanitary pads. I had no clue on whether the bleeding would ever stop. It was so terrible for me.”

Most girls start their periods as early as 12 years. Therefore, parents should not wait until their daughters get their first period before they start talking about menstruation. Girls who are unaware of their impending period can be frightened by the sight of blood.

Just as parents might be embarrassed to talk about menstruation, teens find it more difficult to let mom and dad know their concerns. If talking about menstruation is awkward for you, here are some ways to make discussions a little easier and more open.

• Coordinate your conversations with the health lessons and sex education your child receives at school. Ask your child's teacher about his or her plans and for any advice.

•  As an Ice breaker, parents can talk to their daughters about other topics before their discussions. Then ask them if they have any questions about their body development and changes.

•  If they mention something related to getting a period, spur a conversation by asking where the information came from. Questions can be a great way to set the record straight on any misconceptions kids might have.

•  Before you take your daughter for a routine checkup, let her know that the doctor may ask if she has had her period yet. You can then ask if she has any questions about getting her first period.

It is important to tell girls the truth about menstruation as soon as puberty starts kicking in. This will make them confident as they deal with body changes that would otherwise freak them out and keep them out of school.

Let’s break the silence about menstruation and keep girls in school.

shebs10@yahoo.com

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