Puberty: What’s Happening to My Son?!?
Puberty Tween Boys ages 9-14
Our sweet little love angel boys grow up and find themselves in the complexity and confusion of puberty, and we are right there with them.
Puberty for boys is complicated. It seems to sneak up on them and they feel as though an alien has entered their body, creating things they don’t want to see, feel, or deal with.
We want to fix it…We can’t.
Educating yourself as a parent or caregiver of the symptoms and changes wrapped up in puberty will enable you to not only educate yourself but assist boys through the massive physical and emotional changes they will experience.
Each kid is different and can experience the changes listed below at different times. Keep in mind that these stages may appear gradually, and it may take several years for your child to completely cycle through all the phases of puberty.
In general, boys begin puberty at some point between the ages of 9 and 14
- Growth Spurts: You may turn around one day and notice that your son is catching up top you in height and his favorite Nike’s are way too small. Your little boy who you thought was going to be “small for his age” has suddenly proved you wrong.
- Facial Hair: You may glance over at him while driving him to school and notice small hairs on your son’s upper lip and chin may soon begin to grow longer, thicker and eventually darken. He may even come out of the bathroom one morning and ask to use your razor. Most boys love this change because they view facial hair is a real sign of manhood.
- Broad Shoulders and Chest Muscles: Often a subtle change, your son’s upper body muscles will begin to develop as well. His shoulders will become broader and his chest muscles will be more defined. When both of you notice this change, use the opportunity to encourage him to get off the devices, be active and exercise.
- Body Odor: As hormones increase, boys will begin to sweat more often and body odor often becomes an issue. He may not notice it himself at first and it’s best to be gentle when approaching the subject. Buy him some deodorant and hog tie him if you need to in order to get him in the shower, period. Don’t allow your son to stink! He will soon be bullied or have no friends.
- Pimples and Breakouts: Some kids have more of a problem with acne than others, but almost all teenage boys will break out with pimples from time to time. This is because their skin becomes oilier due to increased hormones. Teach him how to wash his face thoroughly in order to minimize or prevent bad acne. Begin and establish habits just like brushing his teeth. Wash and use sunscreen. Take your son to a dermatologist if you observe excessive breakouts or if you need a professional to instill healthy habits. Don’t allow breakouts to go too far. This is one of the most damaging issues teens undergo – acne.
- Body Hair: Hair growth in the pubic and underarm areas will happen during puberty and very few boys will share this bit of information with you. You can ask, yes, ask. Your son may have questions and he may not but let him know that you understand the process and it is normal. At some point, he will also begin to grow chest hair and other body hair will become thicker and sometimes darker.
- Testicle Growth: Your son’s testicles grow larger and one (typically the left) may hang lower than the other as he matures. The penis will grow in length first followed by the width. This is perfectly normal and happens with most boys. Their scrotum skin will also darken, thin and begin to have tiny hair follicle bumps. This can terrify a boy! We have rigorously taught our kids about their “private parts” and how “private” they are. Boys don’t tend to share the intimate details of their penises with their parents so dads, talk to your kids and moms, let them know you “get it” and won’t embarrass them. This is perfectly normal and happens with most boys.
- Erections and Wet Dreams: Okay, this is the tough one. If you are not okay talking about erections and wet dreams, get okay. Read, educate, seek advice or go see a therapist. This is perfectly normal for boys going through puberty to have involuntary erections and wet dreams. This may be a point of the most embarrassment for your son. Talk to him about it and explain that it is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Also, let him know that he will be able to control it as he gets older. Boys may wake-up and thing they have wet their bed the precious night. Explain that wet dreams are generally caused by the increase of testosterone made in the body and this cannot be controlled.
- Fertility:Boys are considered capable of procreation upon their first ejaculation, which occurs about one year after the testicles begin to enlarge. The testicles now produce sperm in addition to testosterone, while the prostate, the two seminal vesicles and another pair of glands (called Cowper’s glands) secrete fluids that combine with the sperm to form semen. Each ejaculation, amounting to about one teaspoonful of semen, contains 200 million to 500 million sperm.
- Breast Swell: This swelling is not the same as “man boobs” and this slight swelling is temporary.
- Voice Change: Although it is more likely in the later stages of puberty, your son’s voice will deepen. It is usually after a growth spurt because his voice box has grown as well. At first, his voice may crack, and it may cause him some embarrassment. If so, again, talk to your kid and let him know this is normal.
- Romantic Interest: Your son may develop a crush at school or tell you one day that he has a girlfriend or boyfriend. He may show this new interest by being shy or nervous around certain people and you may catch him flirting from time to time. Do not make fun of him or tease him. Set boundaries for the future but do not discount his feelings. This is a great time to discuss relationships with your son.
- Mood Changes: Hormones and changes in his brain will cause your son to become moody at times. Yes, moody. It is perfectly normal and may get worse as he matures. It’s important to acknowledge andgive him space when needed. Seeking medical advice or counseling is always recommended a more serious problem like depression. Tiredness, sadness, irritability, anger and anxiety may occur along with self-consciousness.
- Anxiety About the Changes: Anxiety or excitement about the changes he’s going through is common. Some of the things that come along with puberty may cause your son to worry and wonder if he’s ‘normal.’ Others, like a mustache and muscles, may make him very happy because they’re signs that he’s becoming a man.
- Closed off to Parents: While your son may have told you everything that went on in his day in elementary school, you may find him a little more reserved as he enters puberty. You may hear a lot of ‘Nothing.’ when asked what happened at school during dinner and he may hang out in his room more than watch TV with the family. This is normal, but it’s still important to try and have regular talks with him or get him to sit down and watch a game together. It’s a stage and you want to keep your relationship strong.
Quick Tips for Parents – Puberty
- Be open to questions. Don’t acted shocked or embarrassed. Don’t push the panic button or for God’s sake, don’t cry when the child starts her first period or has his first pubic hair. Be prepared to answer questions before they arise. If the child doesn’t ask questions, then bring up questions of your own and answer them!
- Talk to your child. If you are embarrassed or “just can’t do it”, suck it up. If you don’t, someone else will. It is not the school or churches role and if you can’t handle it, you need to get over yourself…even when she cuts you off, says, “I already know”, or “Yuck, stop” …don’t stop.
- Be aware of the changes. It is very easy in our busy lives to become accustomed to people we are around every day. Take a few moments every now and then to really look at your child and note any changes in her body or attitude. The signs may be right there, and you may notice them before your child does. More than likely though, you won’t need to take a close look. The change in your child’s behavior or mood changes will raise red flags.
- Give your child space. It is difficult to know when to back off. It is a roller-coaster and your child may not know from one second to the other what he/she really wants. Kids may may ask you to take her to go get new shoes in one second, only to follow-up with, “Leave me alone, I can’t stand you”. Learn there are times to talk and times you need to shut your mouth and let them be. Space can do wonders for kids at times. Instead of feeding into the conflict, allow them to pout, throw a fit, cry, or slam the door but circle back and have a discussion after the storm has calmed.
- Pay attention to body image issues. This is especially important for girls because there are stereotypes of what a woman should look like. Just turn on a computer, look at your phone, watch TV, or look around at her school. It is all there. Screaming at her, telling her how to look and dress. As crazy as we all know it ca be, young girls pay attention to it all. Striving for the perfect body, especially while it’s going through the changes of puberty, can lead to bigger problems like eating disorders down the road. Boys too can have body image issues. Pay close attention to this in what they say, the clothes they wear, and what they are watching or following on social media sights.
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