When puberty hits, parents are ask themselves , Where did our sweet little boy go? .
What is happening to me and how do I deal with it? the boy is asking himself.
Boys and puberty is a subject that if given a choice most parents would not want to engage in, In fact if it was in their power, parents would probably delay their boy’s puberty to late twenties if ever.
Unfortunately mother nature does not give us much choice on this subject. If it is time puberty will hit. It will find some families prepared and some unprepared.
Isn’t it funny that we, on average have at least about 11 years to get ourselves ready but for some reason, it still catches us unprepared.
Its Ironic that we want and desire them to grow but we would rather choose a different path than a puberty route.
It is a settled case our little boy will soon face puberty and there are two most popular questions asked by parents-When do boys go through puberty & how can I support him through it. If you are asking yourself such, you are at the right place. Hope you find your answers here.
Let’s be on the same page. What is puberty? – Puberty is the process of physical changes through which a child’s body matures into an adult. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads, which are the ovaries in a girl, and the testes in a boy.
So it’s purpose and objective is clear, ‘It’s transition time from childhood to adulthood’.
When do boys start puberty ?
It usually kicks in between the ages of 9 – 14.
In rare cases boys can have precocious puberty. Precocious puberty is when puberty begins before age 09 in boys. This can be due to some underlying medical conditions, it is always advisable that the child get checked by a doctor.
This is generally not something to worry much about because in most cases after medical examination, doctors scarcely find any worrisome cause of precocious puberty. It is just safer to check than to live with assumptions.
There are two types of Precocious puberty
Central precocious puberty – It is a condition that causes early sexual development in girls and boys
Peripheral precocious puberty – Secondary sexual development induced by sex steroids from other abnormal sources.
More on Central & Peripheral Precocious Puberty here.
An average boy start their puberty at age 12.
Early bloomers start between age 09 – 11
Late Bloomers or Delayed puberty kicks in between age 15 – 17
Signs of Delayed Puberty
- The penis and the testicles have not grown by age 14.
- Lack of physical growth ( boys with delayed puberty are in most cases shorter than their peers, they however still have a chance to catch up by the time their puberty kicks in. Most boys experiencing this kind of delay can find themselves under a lot of pressure mainly because they are unable to fit in the conversations their peers are having at that particular time) .
Patience is the best cure for this kind of condition especially when there are no underlying medical conditions. Alternatively puberty can be triggered through testosterone injections
What happens to Boys during puberty
- The testicles grow.
- Then the penis grows.
- The boy grows Bigger and taller within a short period .
- Pubic hair and underarm hair starts to grow.
- More hair on the body and face ( beard).
- The voice gets deeper.
- Experience emotional struggle with fluctuating mood.
Boys Puberty stages.
Puberty stages are also known as tanner stages or sexual maturity ratings. They serve as a guide to physical development.
Tanner stage 1
At this stage, there are no noticeable physical changes.
Tanner stage 2.
This is the beginning of most of the physical development. Skin on scrotum thins, reddens and enlarges; penis length remain unchanged (9–11.
Tanner stage 3.
Scrotum enlarges further; penis begins to lengthen (11–12.5)
Tanner stage 4.
Scrotum enlarges further and darkens; penis increases in length (12.5–14)
Tanner stage 5.
The testicles and the the penis reaches their full growth .
How to Talk to Your Son About Puberty.
The best that can happen to any boy is to start puberty prepared, equipped, knowing what to expect. If puberty find him unprepared, he might dig for information from sources that parents do not approve.
Parents should assume the role of being a primary source of information for their kids during this stage.
Most parents are willing but do not know how to and when to start having this kind of conversations. This can be even more challenging for single mothers raising boys by themselves, but the work needs to be done.
Conversations can start before age 08, it can start as a some day conversation. Making him aware of what he already knows. That someday soon his body is going to change from that of a child to an adult .
Make him aware that the upcoming changes can affect him physically, socially, emotionally, mentally and otherwise
What to talk about?
Highlight changes that will be taking place i.e The voice getting deeper, growing pubic and underarm hair, penis and testicles growth, explain erections and ejaculations .
Explain that they might start having sexual thoughts and feelings. Equip them on how to handle such thoughts and feelings.
Explain in details and examples the responsibilities that comes with sexual engagement, give them confidence that they have the power to control themselves even if they don’t feel like it.
Talk about how to shave and deal with body odor.
It doesn’t have to be a formalized conversation, especially the first time, it can be done while driving, taking a walk or doing some chores together. This will give them a bit of comfort because they don’t have to keep eye contact with thee parent .
It doesn’t have to be a one time conversation, it’s ideal to have the conversation in smaller bits starting with the general and the basics and advancing into specifics and details on a later stage. Ride on the child’s interest and understanding.
It is best where possible for daddies to assume this responsibility, because they will not only be talking theory but they can also talk from experience, but this should not exclude mothers. The home environment should be safe and conducive to accommodate this kind of conversations between parents and kids.
An elephant in the room is how do I exactly start the conversation. Check the tips below
Spot teachable moments
What are teachable moments? These are moments that they start asking questions , My eight year old twin girls once caught me of guard with a question , the question went like ‘mommy at what age will some dirt start coming out of our vagina’ My jaw dropped, I was never ready and I quickly dismissed the question but you know what – with what I know now that was a teachable moment presenting itself.
My son whenever he see a sign of rash on his face , he will come rushing mommy are these puberty pimples ? Another teachable moment right there.
Other moments can be moments like when presenting them with their first deodorant you can start talking about why they are now having some body odor, what causes it and how to deal with it.
Some more tips :
- Start with questions to assess what he knows
- Follow your child lead in terms of what he is interested in knowing now and how much information is he ready to absorb now, remember it does not have to be a once off long conversation but short frequent conversations are more effective.
- Avoid where possible face to face conversations try to talk while cooking, walking or driving, it works wonders for the comfort of both parent and the child. I respect any adult who can talk about erections and ejaculations with an 11 year old on a face to face conversation .
- Lastly read books and listen to videos on a subject together and discuss afterwards . Amaze has amazing Youtube videos on puberty which can be great conversation starters.
- Don’t be embarrassed if you do not have all the answers, make it a research assignment that you will both embark on .
Common Puberty Challenges Beyond the Physical
Beyond the physical changes, puberty brings some noticeable changes in the social and the cognitive development.
Throughout puberty, there are changes in the structure and function of the brain. This non visible changes can be witnessed through change in behavior, slowly steering the individual towards independence.
Changes may include :
- Extreme withdrawals
- Minor or major depression
- Mood Swings
- In their pursuit of independence, they begin to value their friendships more than family relations
- Being continually on an experimental mode unfortunately because of peer pressure they are likely to to experiment with alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex etc. Parents should be proactive to cover these subjects pre puberty and continue to talk about them during puberty, make them aware that they will be tempted on many occasions to experiment with such. Open their eyes to consequences that follows , it will help where possible and age appropriate to site examples of your own mistakes and their consequences during your experimental years. Keep close eye on your teen to spot any behavioral changes that could results from the above mentioned experiments.
- Eating Disorders
Teenagers again because of pressure , depression and change in moods are susceptible to eating disorders, some become bulimic, while some become anorexic. parents should seek professional help if they observe excessive change that can be classified as the disorder in the lives of their children. For more on adolescents eating habits check this article here
Puberty does Not Only affect the kids but it also somehow affect the parents. How?
Parents are likely to feel:
- Disobeyed or Disregarded
- Lost sense of control
- Can experience a sense of failure
- Can experience heightened anxiety levels
- Can feel that their once peaceful home has turned into a war zone as the young man unexpectantly asset his independence.
Tips for parents :
- Breathe It is just a phase , it will pass.
- Love the child unconditionally & understand that he still love you, deep down he knows he does.
- Be less judgmental, it will make it easy for him to come to you even when he has messed up.
- Have clear set out non negotiable boundaries, communicate them clearly and together agree on consequences and rewards if necessary .
- Choose your battles, safe your energy for life threatening or future threatening decisions and behaviors , you will sometime have to overlook other thing for peace sake.
- They will do a lot of wrong things, you do not approve but create a habit of catching them doing something right and praise and appreciate them for that.
- He is not out to get you, he is not on a mission to destroy you or to disobey, he is transiting into an adult that you will soon look at and admire.
- Make your home a safe haven for him, it doesn’t matter, he might sometime think he can do without you but me and you know that he can’t.
- Most importantly take care of yourself ,keep yourself sane & strong, nurture and love yourself as you sit and witness this great transition.
Puberty can be a challenging , difficult time for both parents and kids because a lot of changes are taking place all at once. The continuous conflicts and misunderstandings can results in depression for both parents and kids.
Parents should be aware of signs indicating that their tween or teen is going through depression. i.e suicidal thoughts and hints of self harm, fatigue, nausea unexplained pains, feeling misunderstood and loosing motivation for school and things that used to make him tick, use of alcohol, drugs, cigarette smoking and more .
This is a break or make time when parents and kids can easily lose each other
Parents should empower themselves ahead on ‘how to navigate this uncharted waters together with their growing boy. If parents are empowered they will find it easy to empower their the kids.
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