Did you have lab practicals in school?


It’s when your science teacher tests your skills, but not on paper.  You actually have to interact, do the thing, to show that you know how.  Most science activities are practice.  The lab practical is a test.


I used to have my students show me that they could light a match and a Bunsen burner, that they could focus a microscope.  Because saying or writing down the steps is different from actually doing it!  Same idea here.


Would you like to know for sure that your child has some basic skills?  


Go beyond talking!  Have them actually show you – in a comfortable way, of course.


Say that your daughter will be menstruating soon, or has just started.  Yes, absolutely talk about physical and brain changes and look at a puberty book together (here’s my books list).  AND, see if she can really DO the things:

  • Give her a pair of her clean underwear and a clean pad and ask her to place it correctly.
  • Give her a clean tampon and ask her to demonstrate (with all clothes ON) how she’ll position her body and hand to insert and remove it. Same with a menstrual cup.
  • Have her show you how she’d make and position an “emergency pad” out of the disposables in the bathroom, in case she’s caught without supplies.
  • Print out a period tracker chart (basic one here, advanced here) and ask her to fill it in based on a scenario you describe.
  • Give her a pair of clean underwear and ask her to show you how she’d clean it if it was a mess.


For all genders,

  • Give them a load of laundry to do. Have them use the stain remover too.
  • Have them show you how they’d use and store their razor, if they have one.
  • Walk into a drug store and have your child take the lead. Make sure they can find the feminine hygiene products, the condoms, the jock itch cream, the UTI medicine, etc.  Talk about what to do if the store keeps those products locked in a case.
  • Have your child schedule their own doctor’s appointment.
  • Have them demonstrate putting a condom on a banana.


Each of these is a skill.  Knowing what to do only takes you so far – it’s having actual skills that allow us to be confident and in control.


In support of you,



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2 Comments. Leave new

  • My child is still some years to young for this but I am very grateful for this post as I would have never thought about all of this in such detailed, practical skill teaching.

    • Exactly, Suzie! Most of us didn’t get this kind of skill building from our parents, nor from sex-ed.

      That’s where I think my background of being a teacher brings a new lens…kids need information, yes, but skills are really what we’re striving for. They’re not quite the same thing! I’ve been working on how to skill build healthy boundaries for a couple years now, and it’s been really helpful for my clients. I’m getting ready to write a book on it, because all the boundaries books out there really don’t offer what I do.


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