Okay parents, it’s that time. Your daughters are growing up (your sons are too, but I’m a girl mom, so this one’s about daughters.) We need to have those chats, and prepare those girls for the surprises in life that are less-than-pretty – at home and in the classroom.
If you parent like me, you talk to your kids a lot, and about everything. Or at least you answer their questions truthfully. (I haven’t been truthful yet about the Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy etc, but what’s the harm in a little fantasy?)
Related: Raising Girls: I have a tween!
My girls know when I have my period, when their dad and I aren’t seeing eye to eye, and when I’m feeling stressed out or overwhelmed with life. And I think that’s a healthy way to live life – honest and open and available to chat any time.
A conversation I had to have with my eldest last week was about taking sanitary pads to school. I initiated it, not her. And she listened, but didn’t really talk about any of it. She’s in grade 6 this year, and it was either grade 6 or 7 when I first got my period, so it’s coming. And now she’s prepared.
Creating an atmosphere of support for our pre-teens doesn’t have to be hard. A few conversations and a lot of listening could be enough to help foster a sense of safety and comfort for our quickly growing children.
So how can we support our pre-teens, and help them be prepared for growing up while they’re in the classroom?
Talk about periods, and how to deal if it surprises you at school.
My daughter and I packed a small bag with a few pads, and an extra pair of underwear, just in case. I also showed her how to use a pad, and she seemed to think it was awfully large. She’s not wrong, but I remember pads being so much bulkier and annoying when I was her age!
These are the pads I bought for my daughter. They feel soft, and it says it’s the smallest size. If you click on the image it will take you to Amazon to order your own. (Affiliate link.)
I also told my daughter to be aware of her friends, and be prepared to share a pad if someone else is in need!
Trust the teachers
Most teachers of pre-teen classes are prepared to deal with the “growing up” that happens in their classrooms. My sister in law has been teaching grades 6 and 7 for years and she loves seeing the kids grow and mature over the school year.
Telling your child to seek help and guidance from their teachers while at school is perfectly acceptable. If they aren’t comfortable with their new teacher, let them know it’s okay to speak to a different teacher, or the principal or support staff. Knowing there is someone to turn to can help students feel safe and seek the support they need.
Don’t be afraid to send medications
My girls are generally healthy. We don’t need to have medications at school. Although, as a young person, my hormone cycles started giving me headaches. (Not to mention the PMS fun of cramps and muscle aches.)
Now that my daughter is almost there, and is able to care for herself, generally, I’ve considered getting her a small bottle of Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen for her backpack. As long as your child understands the dosing, and the teacher is alerted in the classroom that this may need to happen, there’s no reason your child needs to be in pain at school.
Help them make healthy choices
Even though my daughters pack their own lunches, I still hover while they’re doing it. My not-so-gentle suggestions to ensure they are taking healthy snacks do still meet with resistance, but a fruit or vegetable instead of a second granola bar or fruit snack, is worth the nagging.
Well fueled bodies can deal better with the stresses of life and school. Allowing the girls independence to choose their own lunch items with minimal guidance shows I trust them, and the occasional intervention shows I’m still the boss, and I care about how they treat their bodies.
Having healthy lunches and snacks will minimize mood swings due to hunger or blood sugar crashes. When moods can swing at the drop of a hat, at least their bodies can be properly fueled.
Giving support to our pre-teens doesn’t have to be hard.
Child Mind has a great article for parenting tweens and pre-teens: Parenting Tweens: Everything You Should Know It’s well rounded and touches on all aspects of the growing up we’re seeing our children at this stage.
What ways have you been able to support your pre-teen in the classroom? What am I forgetting? Leave me a comment and share your wisdom.