Written by: Steven Petter
Boys and puberty
Boys puberty, it’s one of those subjects that parents everywhere dread, will my son turn into the quintessential grumpy teenager, start moping around shouting ‘I hate you’ at every given moment. In reality no, however where Harry Enfield’s famously emotional character Kevin does reflect our own fast-growing children is in the speed changes appear to occur. Changes won’t happen over night like Kevin but you will see dramatic changes happening very quickly, changes such as height, weight, facial features amongst others.
These changes happen in stages, which in the circle of biologist is referred to as Tanner stages, where clear definitions can be made in development at certain ages. It seems like a good point to say, not all teenagers are the same so if you don’t see these changes happening right away in your child don’t worry everyone will develop at different rates.
When will puberty start?
Actual puberty starts in Tanner Stage two, which is usually around twelve years of age and will se your child start to develop fine hairs at the base of the penis coupled with a change in the size of the genitals in relation to the body. Body fat will start to decrease as he start growing more rapidly, around 5-6 cm a year. By Tanner stage three, around thirteen years of age, the Penis will continue to grow and the pubic hair will start to spread and become thicker, he may also experience ‘Wet Dreams’ which is where he experiences involuntary ejaculations while sleeping so be conscious that this may be a worrying thing for him. You will notice changes in his voice as it starts to break and the pitch of his speech fluctuates, he will also experience growth in muscles and his height will begin to increase by around seven to eight cm a year.
By Tanner stage four, around fourteen years of age, the pubic hair will thicken and begin to look more adult as well as hair beginning to show under the arms. He might start to develop acne so having a look at what cosmetic products can help this would be beneficial. The voice will have changed permanently by becoming deeper and settling at one pitch. The final stage is Tanner stage five, normally at age fifteen and will see your little man looking like a proper adult in the sense that he may start to show signs of facial hair and begin shaving, which is a good time for dad to get in there and show good technique. You will see there growth begin to slow and certainly by the age of seventeen and between eighteen and nineteen all signs of puberty should have stopped.
Be patient and understanding
Other changes that may occur at any one of these stages is the onset of body odour, the Apocrine glands around the armpits and genitals will develop and during times of extreme stress, emotion or sexual excitement may lead to intense body odour which is commonly associated with the teenage boy. Psychologically your child will experience a difficult time as changes in their emotional state leave them more self conscious and concerned about their ‘look’ at exactly the time they are going through the biggest changes.
The onset of acne may result in peer pressure and different rates of change may see your boy feeling inferior to a boy who may be growing faster or developing muscle faster helping them to be better at physical activities such as sport. Mood swings are prevalent and your son will likely start to challenge authoritative states in an attempt to be more of an adult, this may include staying out past deadlines, refusing to do set tasks, socialising with older people and breaking defined social rules. They will develop an interest in sex and the act of sexual intercourse, this will be explored both in conversation with friends and privately as they explore their sexuality, they will likely be uncomfortable if you raise the subject of sex and find it hard to control erections.
Try and remember it’s a hard time for your son as he develops both physically and socially while his thoughts and beliefs are constantly being challenged, but they are still your boy and what ever they may say, they still love you.