Most of the signs are obvious. Hair starts growing in new places. There is also menstruation, body odor, voice changing and girls begin to grow breasts to name a few. Here is a good guide to how it all works, courtesy of KidsHealth.
The process usually begins a year or two earlier in girls than it does in boys. It may start around 8-9 for a girl and 9-10 for a boy. Puberty is started when the brain releases a certain hormone that goes to the pituitary gland. There, more hormones are released to the body. Then things begin to change — in different ways for boys and girls.
For boys, the hormones go to the testicles and start producing sperm and testosterone. For girls, the hormones go to the ovaries and the eggs start to mature and release, estrogen is also produced. This is how their body prepares for pregnancy. In addition, different hormones cause the growth of hair in the pubic and underarm areas for both boys and girls.
The physical changes normally begin with testicles getting bigger and hair. They should have a growth spurt sometime from age 10-16. The arms, legs, hands and feet grow faster than the rest of the body. The body continues to change with the shoulders broadening and adding weight and muscle. About half of boys will experience tenderness or swelling under their nipples. This is a temporary issue that should go away in around six months. More changes:
- Voice becoming deeper
- Dark, curly hair in the pubic area
- Hair in the armpits and on the face
- Penis and testicles grow bigger
- Erections and ejaculation
For a girl, the first sign of puberty is breast development. As the breasts grow larger, there may be small, firm, tender lumps under the nipples. The tissue of the breasts gets larger and softer in the next couple of years. She will begin to grow hair in the pubic area first and then under her arms.
A year or two later, there is usually a growth spurt. This generally includes a build up of fat in the breasts and around the hips and thighs. And, like the boys, the arms, legs, hands and feet get bigger.
The major part of this process for a girl is beginning to have periods. This can happen anywhere from age 9 to 16.
In many cases, these physical changes are connected to emotional issues. This can be a very awkward stage for young people and everyone handles it differently. Some girls are happy to start having breasts and wearing bras. Some boys are excited to start shaving. In other cases, girls are self-conscious about the attention that may or may not come with growing breasts and boys would rather not have the issues that come with new facial hair.
Pimples are also a problem for many teens. It is caused by oil that is produced by the body naturally. Puberty causes extra oil to be produced which has a tendency to clog skin pores. Frequently washing the skin with water and mild soap will help reduce these breakouts. For extreme cases, there are over-the-counter and prescription medications.
Bath and shower time now takes on an increased importance. Kids must learn to wash regularly and to use deodorant. It is also important for them to know about using a razor to shave, how to take care of them and when they need to be replaced.
For boys, erections now may lead to ejaculation. Look for this to happen sometime between 11 and 15. This happens in connection with fantasies, during masturbation or even during the night as they sleep. When this happens during their sleep, it is known as a wet dream. This can be confusing for your child, but is a normal occurrence.
As kids grow up, they tend to become curious about sexuality and their bodies. Masturbation is more and more common the older they get. Children with emotional problems that already exist can become preoccupied with masturbation, as they can with many other thoughts or behaviors. If this is happening constantly or becomes an obsession, it is a sign that there may be some emotional problem with the child. However, in general, masturbation is considered to be normal form of sexual self-exploration.
As Idaho Falls pediatricians, we recommend that you speak to your child about these changes in their bodies sooner, rather than later. It is important for a girl to know about what will happen to her during puberty, and especially about menstruation. Generally, the best time is when you see the first sign of growing breasts, but you can do it sooner if you think she is ready or she has questions. For a boy in Idaho Falls, talk to them before they turn 12 — if not sooner. They should be informed about the development of their penis, erections, and wet dreams. We also suggest telling both boys and girls about what will be happening to the members of the opposite sex.
As your Idaho Falls teen pediatrics experts, we recommend answering any questions your child has honestly. And if you are uncomfortable, have questions of your own, or just need some advice on talking with your child, Just 4 Kids is here to help. For more information on these or any other issues about teen pediatrics in Idaho Falls, do not hesitate to give us a call. We’ll take great care of your child!