Are your tween sons or daughters showing signs of puberty? Hereâ??s what to look out for and how to help them through this confusing time…
Puberty means that your childrenâ??s bodies are becoming sexually mature (a scary thought for both of you)
Girls usually start puberty sometime between the ages of 8 and 13. Boys start a little later, between the ages of 10 and 15.
About a year or two before you start to notice their bodies changing, their brains have already become active, flooding the body with the hormones it needs to help the transition from a childâ??s body to an adultâ??s body.
Signs of puberty in both girls and boys
Girls and boys will go through some of the same changes as puberty arrives:
• Height: girls and boys grow taller during puberty
• Changing body shape: note that the bodies of boys and the bodies of girls change in different ways
• Emotional changes: your child may get angry or irritable more easily or may feel sad or want to cry. Talking to friends and supportive grown-ups is a good way to get those feelings out.
• Sweating and body odour: theyâ??ll probably need to plan to take more frequent showers and baths.
• Oily skin: as if all the other changes werenâ??t enough, they may develop oily skin that can lead to pimples. It helps if you feed them nutritious foods, and encourage them to wash their faces in the morning or the evening. If the pimples become a real problem, take them to a dermatologist or skin doctor.
• Sexual feelings: this is a whole separate topic and we will deal with it as such later.
Puberty changes in girls
As girls go through puberty, the shape of their bodies will change. They will develop curves, hip bones will widen, and you may notice weight gain on their hips. These changes can be upsetting in a culture that idealizes ultra-thin women. Itâ??s important to remind them that curves are normal and healthy, and they shouldnâ??t diet to get rid of them.
Breasts are another part of your body that change shape during puberty. They become larger and rounder, and your daughter may need to start wearing a bra for comfort when she exercises. Girls mature physically at different rates, so tell her not to worry if she has friends who are larger or smaller than she is.
Finally, she will begin her menstrual cycle. Each month, one of her ovaries will release an egg into the tube leading to her uterus. As the egg is not fertilised by sperm, the uterus will expel the unfertilised egg and a little bit of lining. Menstruation is not usually painful, although some girls do experience sharp cramps. If cramping is a problem, take her to see the doctor.
Puberty changes in boys
As boys go through puberty, they gain weight and muscle and their shoulders become wider.
You may also notice that the Adamâ??s apple in their throat seems larger. The Adamâ??s apple, better known as the voice box or larynx, is indeed growing. As it grows, boysâ?? voices start to change, sometimes sounding high and childlike, other times sounding low and adult, and other times cracking unexpectedly. By the time the voice box is finished growing, the boyâ??s voice will regulate and he will speak in a lower register than he did as a child.
Boys also experience growth of their penis and testicles, and they may begin to experience sudden erections, or times when their penis grows stiff due to nerves or excitement. Most of the time, you wonâ??t be able to tell when this happens.
If you notice that a boy has an erection, donâ??t be offended, and donâ??t tease him or scold him about it. Simply act as if you donâ??t notice, talk to him like you normally would, and the erection will soon go away on its own.
Puberty may not be the most fun experience in the world to go through, but the changes it brings are a natural part of life. It means your child is well on his or her way to leaving childhood and becoming a young man or woman.