Puberty Issues - Topic Overview
Puberty begins with hormonal shifts
that trigger the development of male and female sex characteristics. In
general, puberty usually starts for girls between the ages of 9 and 11, and for
most boys between the ages of 9½ and 13 years. The exact age at which
puberty starts varies widely among individuals.
Having an adolescent often brings up parents' uncomfortable
memories of going through
puberty themselves. Fortunately, education and support
for adolescents during this period of life are becoming increasingly common.
But adolescents still need parental guidance about what to expect and assurance
that everyone goes through similar changes during puberty. When a teen is given
encouragement, puberty can be a creative and affirming time of life.
How you can help
Talk to your children before physical changes start to happen. Instead of
overloading your child in one sitting, talk to your child over a period of a
year or two about changes that are upcoming. Offer your child books about
puberty that are geared toward teens, and set a time to talk about what your
Share some of your own teen experiences so that
your child will know that Mom and Dad went through this time too.
Young adolescents may not be aware of developing body odor and the need
for deodorants and more frequent bathing. They may develop
whiteheads and blackheads, or
acne and need instruction on how to care for their
teens about the changes that occur with puberty, such as the following:
- Girls' hips become more
- Girls' nipples grow first and then the breasts under
- Girls and boys get fine pubic and underarm hair, and then the
hair becomes coarser.
- Boys' penises and testicles grow
- Boys sometimes have wet dreams.
- Boys sometimes
have temporary breast growth during puberty.
- Menstruation is a sign that girls can become pregnant.
Girls should be instructed on how to use pads or tampons. Explain that periods
may not be regular at first but they typically last 4 to 6 days and occur every
21 to 45 days in the first 2 years.