As seen in Part One, a lot and more has been said about teaching little girls about menstruation, hygiene, and social taboos associated with it and such, but seldom do we talk about how to enlighten our little boys on this topic. Don’t you think it is as important for us to teach our sons in a very healthy way about the concept of menstruation? Isn’t that also one of the most important steps towards eradicating the social taboos that still exist in our society regarding menstruation?
Half the population has periods, so why not make sure the half that doesn’t is also informed? Every boy should learn about period education.
This is in part why a recent report has called for boys, as well as girls, to learn about periods and the menstrual cycle at school. Plan International, the charity behind the report, suggests there is a need to talk more about the issue as many girls feel embarrassed – with the menstrual cycle tarnished with stigma and taboo.
Their findings also reveal that one in seven of the girls and women interviewed said they did not know what was happening when they first started their period – clearly demonstrating a need for more to be done to teach young women about what’s to come.
We have provided tips on how to teach boys on periods and it’s in five easy steps!
Lesson #1: The Biological Lessons:
Before your little one reaches ‘the’ age, when the girls of his age start getting their first periods, one needs to give them basic guidance on the biological process involved with menstruation. You don’t really need to go deep into details during this stage. You just need to provide them with a little basic information for starters and later on, as he grows up, one may go into details as per his and your respective comfort levels.
Lesson #2: It’s Divine, Not Yucky!
As your little one learns about menstruation and its associated processes, it is quite natural for them to develop an aversion towards it, as it involves blood and hygiene and so on and so forth. Let him know then, that there are hygienic methods involved in addressing it and that it is not a curse.
“In fact, boys need to know that it is nature’s little secret that keeps life on this planet going and thriving.”
Lesson #3: Boom – Busting the Myths!
It is TV time and your boy child sees that cliché sanitary pad advert with the demonstration of blue ink being poured on the sanitary pad. Believe it or not, but there are some parents who tell their sons that the sanitary pad is used for absorbing excess ink from fountain pens! It is important to bust myths around things that children come across every day. By telling your boy child: “I will tell you about it in detail when you grow up. For now, it’s something that is used by big girls.” is a simple way of tackling the societal taboos that come with menstruation.
Lesson #4: Moody Mood Swings.
It is important to start teaching your boy child that girls can go through mood swings, and it not because of their period but because of hormones or either they are actually moody. And that is okay! It is important not to always blame the period for mood swings, but to at least teach boys to be sensitive towards such events.
Lesson #5: Ouch! The Pain.
Just like the mood swings, boys need to understand how much of a painful experience it could be for some girls. They need to understand why their girl classmates or friends are not in the mood to play around or have fun.
It is also important for schools to be more open about the importance of menstruation and they need to be more sympathetic towards the stigma girls face. For a start, schools should provide resources and information that girls can access. This will help them understand – rather than feel scared and fearful – what is happening to their bodies during puberty.
Talking with your children is one important step towards taking the taboo out of menstruation because to achieve gender equality on this issue, girls need to feel able to talk about their periods and challenge the discrimination that is associated with menstruation and developing girls bodies.
And boys can play a big role in this – if they also get the right support and resources.
By only educating girl children about menstruation, we will not solve the problem of menstrual taboos in this society. We need to educate our boys too, for a better period-friendly society and a better life for the women of tomorrow!
Until we change attitudes, the conversation surrounding menstruation and menstrual equality will continue to be a secret. Tell your daughters. Tell your sons. Today. The earlier we start to normalize the conversation with our children, the less of a taboo menstruation will become. It’ll be just another part of the cycle of dialogue.
Fact: People with periods menstruate monthly for about 40 years – close to 500 times in a lifetime.
Fact: Not talking about periods creates confusion, oppression, and societal harm.
It is important to talk about menstrual health, society has for too long made it a taboo.
Menstruation, despite being a completely natural and common occurrence for young girls and women for as long as our species has existed is one of the most misunderstood and feared phenomena.
MANY girls believe that periods are a burden to be borne every month, silently and in shame. Society is complicit in teaching girls that menstruation is a dirty little secret. The messaging about periods is that they are best suffered quietly and that they are certainly not appropriate for polite conversation.
“It is critical for both girls and boys to know that having your period is a natural and important part of growing up.“
So we have provided ideas for parents, guardians, teachers, and guidance counselors. Don’t be afraid of talking about periods, sharing information and advice is the best way to understand your period and have a happy month!
Firstly what is a period?
It is important to have a discussion with your child on the female reproductive system!
A first period (also known as menarche) is a special event! Spend time with your child to celebrate the start of a new chapter in their life. Sharing knowledge and experience is important to help your them feel comfortable and confident about the changes that are happening to their body.
Your period is blood passing out of your womb as part of a natural process to prepare your body for pregnancy. Now that your body is changing you can get pregnant, (and just before your first period too).
Your period happens once a month, and usually lasts between 2-7 days, but it may take a few months for your period to be regular and predictable, the first few may be light and irregular. You may find it useful to keep track of your period each month, to see when it is due and when it arrives. You can use an easy Period App such as Clue.
Preparing with correct and updated information for the first period can prevent worry. Let them know it is normal and natural and that they can still enjoy their childhood if they want to. Just because their period arrived, does not mean they want to be rushed into becoming an adult.
Talk from experience, let them know that all menstruating teenagers go through it, and you did too. Show her the menstrual health products available, how to use them and let her choose the one she feels most comfortable with.
Know the facts
It is as simple as researching online and reading up on the facts! Pass on the knowledge!
“Menstrual management can be essential in ensuring that your child’s everyday life is not interrupted by menstruation. “
It ensures that your child can continue with her daily routine such as going to school, going to work or doing household chores. It can also prevent potential situations of embarrassment and in turn, make them feel confident about herself and her body. In this sense, maintaining proper menstrual health is important for her wellbeing and development.
Not only is this post focusing on what girls and women should do, but young boys and men have a responsibility to learn about menstrual cycles (which we shall discuss in part two).
We believe that every girl should have access to safe, affordable menstrual products.
Every girl should also learn that her period is a natural even a phenomenal bodily process.
Every girl should learn that their period is not a monthly curse and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
The New Year is here which means it is time for you and your family to set resolutions.
You probably think, why does my child need resolutions?
When it comes to children, achieving goals or resolutions can play a critical role in developing healthy self-esteem and confidence. Start by explaining to your child first what a resolution means, and give examples of ones you have set in past years.
Just keep in mind that resolutions should always be discussed in a positive way with children. For example: Saying “I’m going to do this…” instead of “I’m going to stop doing this.”
If your child suggests well-intentioned but vague ideas like “Be a better friend” or “Be healthier,” try to help them filter those ideas into tangible actions that can be done every day, either by themselves or together as a family. Try using the SMART method with setting resolutions:
S = Specific
Let’s say your child wants to get better grades this year. While that’s a great goal to aim for—it’s very broad and open to interpretation—make this goal more specific by narrowing it down to certain subjects.
For instance, if your child struggles in math and science, they can focus on improving in those areas. Narrowing in on specific subjects will help keep your child from getting overwhelmed.
M = Motivating Is your child excited or interested in accomplishing this goal? If not, their work rate will reflect that. If your child doesn’t enjoy math or science, try relating the goal to something that interests them.
For example, if your child’s dream is to become a professional athlete, make sure they understand the importance of performing well enough in school to be eligible for a scholarship. Accomplishing any goal is easier when you have the proper motivation.
A = Attainable Being unrealistic with your child’s resolution can be a recipe for disappointment. You don’t want your child to get overwhelmed because they feel like their resolution is impossible to achieve, so make sure the goal is attainable.
R = Relevant Is this goal going to help your child’s growth and development, or is it relatively pointless? Make sure your child is taking this opportunity to really accomplish something.
T = Trackable Make sure the progress of your child’s resolution can be measured. Seeing evidence of progress as they work towards their goal will only give them more confidence. Conversely, if they hit a bump in the road, it’s important for them to see what they did wrong so they can adjust their strategy if needed.
Here are some examples of resolutions you and your children can make:
Instead of: “I’m going to eat healthier.”
Suggest: “I’m going to drink two glasses of milk each day instead of soda or juice.” Or, “I’m going to eat two pieces of fruit at lunch each day.”
Instead of: “I’m going to exercise more.”
Suggest: “I’m going to join a soccer team.” Or, “I’m going to go to yoga class with Mom on Saturdays.”
Instead of: “We’re going to cut down on screen time.”
Suggest: “We’re going to read for 30 minutes before bed instead of watching TV.”
Instead of: “I’m going to help out around the house.”
Suggest: “I’m going to set the table for dinner every night.” Or, “I’m going to help clean my bedroom once a week.”
Instead of: “I’m going to be nicer to people.”
Suggest: “I’m going to do one random act of kindness a week.” Or, “I’m going to talk to one person at school I’ve never met each week.”
Instead of: “I’m going to learn something new.”
Suggest: “I’m going to learn how to make chocolate chip cookies.” Or, “I will learn how to sing.”
Instead of: “We’re going to spend more quality time together.”
Suggest: “We’re going to have game night every Friday.” Or, “we’re going to eat breakfast together on Sunday mornings after church.”
By making sure that your children’s resolution is SMART, you will help set them up for success in the coming year and beyond!
We would like to wish all our Qraters a Happy New Year! We will be launching more content and surprises this year!
Meet Thandi. Thandi is a smart, bubbly and kind girl. Little Thandi came back from school one day and was so excited that she had been chosen as the new grade 3R class monitor. Miss Zulu told her peers that “Thandi is a good example, children! You must strive to be like her!”
It was true! Little Thandi was truly a good example of a well-groomed student. The next day, little Thandi was attending her physical education class and they were busy having fun when a boy from her class yelled “Thandi! How can you be a good example, when you can’t even pass the ball right!” and everyone burst out into bubbles of laughter. Thandi felt so bad and that the following day little Thandi was late for school and Miss Zulu said to Little Thandi: “Thandi! As the class monitor, you should always be on time. You are supposed to be setting a good example!”
Later that evening before little Thandi went to bed; she thought to herself “But what does it mean to be a good example”. She found the responsibility of being “a good example” a little challenging. As Little Thandi fell asleep, It was in her sleep that Thandi has a strange dream. In this dream; every time she said or felt bad things about herself for not being good at something, a BIG scary horn grew right in the middle of her forehead. She then started to scream for help and ran straight to Miss Zulu’s office. Surprisingly, Miss Zulu chuckled at the sight of this and whispered to her the word “Kindness”. Little Thandi’s dream was disturbed by the loud alarm. That morning, as she arrived at school, Little Thandi looked forward to school and fulfilling her role as a class monitor. She understood that leading by example does not mean being perfect; instead, it means being kind enough to yourself to understand that our imperfections make us human and accepting them makes us even better leaders.
Now you’re probably reading this and wondering – how is this relevant for children?
“Believe it or not, it’s possible to teach your children to fight the negativity of the world using nothing but self-love.“
Based on Little Thandi’s story, Self-love has less to do with how you look and what you are wearing and more to do with how you regard yourself. It is important to teach children that they are not awesome, cool, beautiful, pretty, etc. because of hairstyles or outfits and other external things that could be taken away in an instance BUT that they are amazing because of who they are at the core of their being, and I want them to know that and appreciate that.
“Good self-esteem is essential to a child’s development. It is the foundation of everything they do, everything they are – it is the foundation of their future. “
So here are some tips to instill children with self-love tools:
Teach them about joy: Happiness can be taken away… it’s external. But joy, that’s something that they should have on the inside. And when they leave the house and encounter all of those things in the world that are designed to tear them apart, they’ll still have their given joy.
Love your body for all that it can do! Your body is amazing. It has so many great skills and talents it does every day. It helps you to laugh, breathe, think and play.
Look after yourself. Looking after your body is important. We only get one! Eating healthy and exercising will help you to feel good and keep your body strong.
Focus on the good things. Write a list of all the things that you and others like about yourself. Read this list often. Add to it when you find more things you like about yourself!
Change the way you think about yourself.Catch those thoughts that are telling you negative things about yourself. Replace them with some positive ones. Everybody has things they can like about themselves.
Having high self-esteem isn’t about telling everyone how wonderful you are. It’s more about trying your best, realizing that you won’t always succeed but always being willing to have a go. You can feel good that you are a positive person and others will respect and want to be around you.
It’s okay to look and be different. It’s what makes us special!
[RECOMMENDED READING]: We have compiled a list of 10 books that teach kids the importance of Self-Love:
“Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes
“Mpumi’s Magic Beads” by Lebohang Masango & Masego Morulane
“The Sneetches and Other Stories” by Dr. Seuss
“You Are Special” by Max Lucado
“Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun” by Maria Dismondy
“I Like Myself” by Karen Beaumont
“Unstoppable Me” by Wayne W. Dyer
“Smile” by Raina Telgemeier
“Deenie” by Judy Blume
“The Skin I’m In” by Sharon Flake
“The List” by Siobhan Vivian
About the Author:
Nosipho Nxumalo is a University of Witwatersrand LLB Student. She is currently a Junior Business Management Consultant and she is a proud feminist and advocates for women empowerment.
Follow her on Instagram: @noss_nx & Facebook: Nxumalo Nosipho Nxumalo
South Africa is a country that has a rich and diverse history which influences the social and political contemporary issues that are deeply contested today. Despite these challenges, we have a total population of 55.6 million people, 36.2% of which are young people. However, the youth face the great burden of lacking critical engagement skill with socio-political issues that affect them.
Through a series of blog posts, Qrate will discuss and tackle various social issues that as an organization believes that children should be open-minded towards and willing to hold discussions amongst their peers, teachers, and parents. These blog posts will be helpful for parents, guardians, and teachers to engage in discussions with the youth of today.
Our first blog post is centered on understanding the importance of critical thinkers for young children.
What is Critical Thinking? Critical thinking consists of different skills that help us learn to make decisions. It is the ability to evaluate information to determine whether it is right or wrong.
To think critically about an issue or a problem means to be open-minded and consider alternative ways of looking at situations.
Critical thinking has become a buzzword thrown about in educational and economic discourse with few doubting its importance.
“Critical thinking is the ability to ask difficult questions in the right way at the right time. It It is a willingness to challenge prevailing assumptions whilst acknowledging the limits of your knowledge. It is a desire to know and a lifelong passion for learning.”
The first myth about critical thinking is the claim that we measure a learner’s critical thinking ability. Teachers are, understandably concerned with justifying the curriculum and the percentage progress typically serves this purpose. If schools are to teach students how to think critically, creatively and independently, we need to rethink how we conceptualize scholastic achievement.
The second myth is about the methods of questioning. Too often I have heard phrases like “question everything” linked with critical thinking. A willingness to question one’s certainties is a key component of rational investigation, but it is the way we ask questions that make the difference.
A critical thinker asks questions that are relevant to the matter at hand and knows how to make sound judgments about the information they receive. They also know when they do not have enough information to make an informed decision.
To be good at thinking, children must believe that thinking is fun and want to be good at it. Parents, guardians, and teachers have the power to make that happen.
In teaching children to think critically, we’re doing them not only a favor but the highest service. Children throughout their lives will be expected to go through a lot of information and using that information – they will have to make choices.
And schools are not the only sole source of knowledge!
In the ever-changing world of technology and easier access to information – it is crucial that children are equipped with the right skills to analyze information.
If critical thinking nurtures a lifelong passion for learning, then we teach children to love thinking for its own sake. Learning becomes its own reward. Passionate learners contribute to a productive classroom and may offer a way to engage those who would otherwise fall behind.
The ability to analyze critically the information we encounter, to put it into its appropriate context and extract insights without falling into prejudice is the antidote.
A society that thinks is infinitely harder to fool than one that can’t or won’t.
How can you get children to be critical thinkers?
Critical thinking is a way of asking questions to help a child find answers themselves, rather than answering them for them. It’s about providing a safe place and giving the opportunity for your child to respond without judgment or interruption.
At QRATE, we developed handy tips for helping children learn to think better. Teach these to your children and then interact with them in ways that reinforce these standards.
Be CLEAR. Invite children to be clear by asking for explanations and examples when they don’t understand something. Let children know it is okay to be confused and ask questions.
Be ACCURATE. Urge kids to be accurate to check to see if something is true by researching the facts.
Be RELEVANT. Encourage children to be relevant by discussing other topics that are important to the discussion or problem at hand. Help them stay on track by linking related and meaningful information to the question they are trying to answer or the topic they are learning about.
Be LOGICAL. Help them see how things fit together. Question how they came to their conclusions and whether their assumptions are correct.
Be FAIR. Set expectations that your child be fair. Promote empathy in their thinking processes. Make sure that they are considerate of others when drawing conclusions.
By Candice Chirwa & Josh Nel
Here’s to raising a generation of critical thinkers!
Candice Chirwa is a Masters of Arts International Relations student at the University of Witwatersrand. She is the Founder and Director of Qrate. In her spare time, Candice loves tutoring her High School and University students as well as drinking coffee (lots of it).
Josh Nel is a Masters of Arts Philosophy student at the University of Witwatersrand. In his spare time, Josh loves reading political philosophy books.