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Puberty begins with hormonal shifts
that trigger the development of male and female sex characteristics. In
general, puberty usually starts for girls between the ages of 9 and 11, and for
most boys between the ages of 9½ and 13 years. The exact age at which
puberty starts varies widely among individuals.
Having an adolescent often brings up parents' uncomfortable
memories of going through
puberty themselves. Fortunately, education and support
for adolescents during this period of life are becoming increasingly common.
But adolescents still need parental guidance about what to expect and assurance
that everyone goes through similar changes during puberty. When a teen is given
encouragement, puberty can be a creative and affirming time of life.
Talk to your children before physical changes start to happen. Instead of
overloading your child in one sitting, talk to your child over a period of a
year or two about changes that are upcoming. Offer your child books about
puberty that are geared toward teens, and set a time to talk about what your
Share some of your own teen experiences so that
your child will know that Mom and Dad went through this time too.
Young adolescents may not be aware of developing body odor and the need
for deodorants and more frequent bathing. They may develop
whiteheads and blackheads, or
acne and need instruction on how to care for their
teens about the changes that occur with puberty, such as the following:
Show compassion. Let your child know that you are there to
help and will not tease or ridicule.
usually very aware of how their development compares to that of their friends.
Any development that varies significantly from the norm can be a source of
great anxiety along with social and emotional struggles.
tables below highlight some of the advantages and disadvantages related to the
timing of puberty.
Other Works Consulted
Bordini B, Rosenfield RL (2011). Normal pubertal development, Part II: Clinical aspects of puberty. Pediatrics in Review, 32(7): 281–291.
Ozer EM, Irwin CE (2011). Psychological development. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph’s Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 271–272. New York: McGraw-Hill.
February 28, 2012
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
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