Parenting is hard work! And just as you thought the sleepless nights of babyhood and the toddler-stage were behind you, bam, your little boy hits puberty, and it feels like you are back to square one!
It can be rather frustrating to deal with the sudden changes that come with your child’s coming of age, pun not intended. Suddenly, you see your child on the threshold of growing up. It can be a difficult period for you. But for kids, the stage can feel like a roller coaster – an awfully scary one at that.
So, if you want to navigate this difficult journey without too many hiccups, you need to arm yourself with knowledge. The more you know about puberty, the more you can help your kid. So, read on to learn more about puberty in boys.
What Is Puberty?
Puberty is the time when the body changes and goes through a process of sexual maturation. All the changes that take place during this period are a step towards fertility and development of secondary sex characteristics.
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Sexual maturity is different for boys and girls. That is why the experience of puberty too differs between the sexes. So, if your son has recently become a teen, it may be time to read more about puberty in boys!
When Can You Expect Your Son To Hit Puberty?
On an average, boys between the age group of 9 to 16 years experience puberty. Of course, every individual is different, and may experience puberty at different times. Moreover, the onset of puberty also depends on a variety of factors. Some factors that may determine your son’s coming of age include:
1. Body Weight:
Some theories suggest that the body’s overall weight can be a huge factor while determining the onset of puberty. When a kid’s body reaches a particular mass, it may begin the process of maturing. Leptin, a hormone created in the body by fat cells, influences the releases of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). GnRH then encourages the pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), both of which lead to sexual development.
Today, kids experience puberty sooner than ever before in history. The fact that many kids these days are overweight might hint at the reason for this change.
The timing of puberty also depends on genetics. The chances are high that your son will hit puberty at the same age as your husband did! In fact, researchers have discovered a specific gene that plays a vital role in puberty. The gene, with a fancy nickname-GPR54, affects the secretion of the GnRH hormone and determines the timing of puberty. People without this gene are likely to have difficulties during puberty.
[ Read: When Do You Hit Puberty ]
Stages Of Puberty In Boys:
Puberty is not a sudden transformation. It is a phase. There are five stages involved when it comes to puberty. These are the signs of puberty in boys. There is no determinable male puberty age.
The various boys puberty stages are called Tanner stages, named after Professor James Tanner, the child development expert who first identified them.
1. Tanner Stage One:
Popular as pre-pubescence, Tanner stage one is the time before puberty. If your son hasn’t yet hit puberty, he is probably in this stage right now. The stage does not refer to any particular age.
Changes To Be Expected:
Most boys do not experience any major physical changes during this stage.
2. Tanner Stage Two:
The second Tanner stage begins at about 12 years of age. But all bodies are different, and the timing too can differ from person to person.
Changes To Be Expected:
- The scrotum may begin to thin and redden
- The testicles may increase in size
- You may notice the first appearance of pubic hair at the base of the penis
3. Tanner Stage Three:
The third stage of puberty begins at the age of 13 years on an average.
Changes To Be Expected:
- The size of the penis will increase as will the testicles
- The pubic hair will now appear thicker and more widespread
- A sizable percentage of teens experience breast tissue growth during this stage. But don’t let your kid freak out about the ‘man-boobs’. In most cases, the growth peters out after a few years.
- One of the more embarrassing changes that a teen may experience during this stage is the onset of wet dreams’. Wet dreams mean ejaculation of semen while asleep. It is completely out of your kid’s control!
- Another radical change that should begin now is the change of voice. A teen may now experience a change in the pitch and tone of his voice. His voice will deepen and appear more adult-like.
- Now to some good news! The best part of this stage is the physical growth. A teen is likely to suddenly ‘shoot up’! Many boys grow by as much as 7-8 cm a year during puberty.
4. Tanner Stage Four:
The fourth stage of puberty usually begins at age 14.
Changes To Be Expected:
- The Penis and testicles will continue their upward trajectory
- The scrotum will take on a darker shade
- The pubic hair will look more ‘adult-like’ at this stage. But the hair will still be localized in the genital area
- Hair may appear on the underarms
- Acne will make its presence felt
5. Tanner Stage Five:
The final stage of puberty, Tanner stage five begins at the age of 15 and end at around 18 years of age.
Changes To Be Expected:
- The genitals will now look like that of an adult
- Pubic hair will spread to the inner thigh
- Now will be a good time to invest in a shaving kit! Most boys develop facial hair during this final stage of puberty
- Most of the ‘growing tall’ phase comes to a gradual halt by age 16. But muscle growth stays on its upward spiral.
- Most boys attain full adult maturity by age 18.
[ Read: Physical Changes During Puberty ]
Common Symptoms Associated With Puberty In Boys:
Apart from the physical changes mentioned above, a teen can experience several other symptoms during puberty.
Here are some common (and not so fun) symptoms that come with male puberty:
- Acne is the first tryst with ‘growing up’ for many teens. This uncomfortable puberty symptom can often leave teens frustrated and angry. Nobody wants to go to school with a huge zit on their noses!
- But the sad truth is that acne is an intrinsic part of adolescence.
- During puberty, the body produces a high amount of the hormone testosterone. The hormone not just changes the body and helps it attain sexual maturity but also leads to excess secretion of oil by the sebum (small glands in the skin).
- The extra oil, combined with blocked pores, can lead to acne breakouts.
- Another factor that can cause acne is the level of acid in the skin. The altered acidic level can lead to bacterial growth, which in turn can cause acne flare-ups.
How To Manage Acne:
- Acne can be a difficult change for a teen to manage. Remember, teens constantly worry about how they look. Please don’t just brush away your son’s frustrations. Help him combat acne!
- Most cases of acne require a simple antibacterial cream. But if your teen has a severe case, it will be wise to take him to a doctor.
- You can also try some homemade hacks to help treat your teen’s acne.
- Use green tea to clean the face. Just add some green tea leaves to boiling water, steep, and then let your teen use the water to wash his face. Green tea control sebum production and also fights the growth of acne-causing bacteria.
- Another thing you can do to manage acne it to change your teen’s pillow covers regularly.
- Ask your teen to avoid eating oily food if he wants to manage his acne outbreak.
- A good night’s sleep can go a long way when it comes to beating acne.
2. Body Odor:
- Here’s another uncomfortable puberty symptom that all teens hate! But like acne, body odor too is part of growing up.
- The body develops large sweat glands during puberty. These glands appear around the armpits, breasts, and genital area.
- The sweat glands secrete copious amounts of sweat in response to not just heat but also stress and sexual excitement.
- Most teens sweat more than usual and experience body odor.
Treating Body Odor:
- Fortunately, body odor is one problem that has easy solutions. Some of the steps you can take to help your teen beat odor include.
- Encourage your teen to keep the armpits clean. Using a good anti-bacterial soap is a good idea to beat body odor.
- A shower a day keeps body odor away! So, let your kid luxuriate in the shower longer than usual to combat body odor.
- It may not be possible to prevent body odor completely. So the next option is to mask the nasty smell! Buy your teen a strong deodorant and ask him to use it liberally after bath to hide the body odor.
- Change your teen’s wardrobe and include more clothes made of natural fiber like cotton or silk.
- Another reason to say no to oily and spicy food! Such rich food can lead to excessive sweating. So ask your teen to steer clear of such temptations.
3. Psychological And Behavioral Changes:
Apart from physical changes, puberty for boys can also be a time for mental turmoil. With a surge of hormones in the body, your teen can experience a myriad of psychological and behavioral issues.
Some of the more common mental issues faced by adolescents include:
- Anger: If you thought toddler tantrums is the worst your kid can do, you are in for a shock! Thanks to the rapid changes taking place in his life, your teen may exhibit anger issues. He may also rebel against rules and authority. Though normal part of teenage days, the kind of behavior can land your teen in trouble.
- Irritability: With anger comes irritability. Your teen may feel lonely. He might also feel like nobody ‘gets him.’ Don’t worry. It is not a reflection on your parenting. It is normal for teens to feel irritable at the smallest of things.
- Extreme Mood Swings: We all go through mood swings. But teens take it to another level! One moment they may be laughing and playing with their friends and the very next moment they may sit morosely in front of the telly! You can thank the raging hormones for this extreme change of mood.
- Low Self-Esteem: With his body changing, it is common for a teen to suffer from low self-esteem. He may compare himself with his friends and come up short. Too short, too thin, too ugly, too many pimples – the list in his mind can be endless. Puberty is an awkward stage. Your teen is no longer a child but not quite an adult either. This physical no man’s land can be a tricky place to navigate.
- Eating Disorders: It is becoming increasingly common for teens to suffer from eating disorders. Most teens tend to gain weight during puberty. This may make them feel fat and ugly. So they may resort to skipping food, extreme dieting, etc. to fit into an image of perfection. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior can lead to full-blown cases of anorexia and bulimia.
- Sexual Confusion: Puberty is the time when teens suddenly discover their sexuality. This can leave them confused and scared! The sudden attraction towards the opposite sex can feel overwhelming to most teens.
- Depression: Depression is not a simple bad day or feeling blue. Depression means feeling hopeless and without joy. It may break your heart to see your teen suffer from such anguish, but it is part of the journey. With all the issues mentioned above working in his life, it is possible that your teen may slip into depression.
[ Read: Emotional Changes During Puberty ]
Managing Psychological And Behavioral Changes:
Managing teenage angst can be a difficult task. But you cannot leave your kid to deal with it himself! Here are some steps to help you deal with male puberty:
- The most important thing you can do is to keep the conversation going. Yes, your teen may be driving you crazy, but that is what teens do. Don’t shut him out. Let him know you are always there to listen to him.
- But it is equally important to set some boundaries. Let your teen know that certain behavior is just not acceptable.
- Try to be non-judgemental when talking with a young teen. You may not like his best friend but don’t criticize him. Remember, for most teens, friends are more important than family.
- Accept that your son is no longer a baby. He has his likes and dislikes. Respect his opinion, no matter how you feel about them. Allow him to grow.
- Let him know how special he is. But don’t get sappy about it! A simple word of encouragement should suffice.
- Show him that he is more than his body. Lead by example. Don’t body-shame anybody – even yourself, in front of him. Help him embrace his developing body.
- Help him build a healthy relation with food.
- If you think that you can no longer help your teen, don’t hesitate to seek help. A good psychologist can be a heaven sent in such a situation.
[ Read: Social Changes During Puberty ]
Puberty In Boys- When To Call The Doctor?
All things said and done; puberty is a normal phase that all humans go through. It may be a difficult time but is not something to worry about. But there are times when you may need to talk to your son’s doctor. Call your doctor if:
- Your son complains of pain in the penis or testicles
- He has passed the average age of puberty and shows no signs of physical change
- Your teen shows signs of eating disorder
- He seems to be suffering from severe depression
Puberty is like stepping into the mad hatters tea party! Nothing makes sense, and it seems to go on forever! And male puberty stages make it difficult for your son. But you need to be strong. If your son’s puberty is so hard on you, imagine what it must be doing to him! So, shower him with your love and understanding. Before you know it, your teen will be an adult, all set to flee the nest.
How are you coping with your son’s puberty symptoms? Do have a tip or two to share with us in the comments section below?
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