What Changes Can Girls and Boys Expect During Puberty?
In many ways, puberty is similar for girls and boys.
During puberty, both will
- grow taller quickly
- develop pubic hair and underarm and body hair
- notice more body odor probably get pimples on their faces, backs, chests, or buttocks because of changes in sweat and oil glands
- see their body shapes change — wider hips for girls and broader shoulders for boys
- find that their voices become deeper — this usually happens much more suddenly for boys
- become more sexual
Girls and boys often worry about being normal as they go through puberty. Some children begin puberty months or years earlier than their friends and classmates. Others begin much later. We should reassure our children that even if they go through puberty at a different time or a different rate than their friends, it’s perfectly normal.
As girls and boys go through puberty, they also begin to go through big changes in their thoughts and feelings. Their emotional changes will continue through adolescence until they reach adulthood. During this time, peers become more and more important in our children’s lives. They may spend lots of time trying to be like their friends and classmates. They may also spend a lot of energy exploring how they are unique and independent.
Hormones cause the physical changes we call puberty. They also affect children’s feelings. Hormone shifts may give children strong emotional highs and lows. We can help our children deal with their shifting moods by being patient and by validating their feelings. Remember that their feelings are real and may be confusing or overwhelming to them. Good family communication can help girls and boys deal with all of their changes more easily.
At some point, most girls and boys begin masturbating as they explore their changing bodies. Children usually begin masturbating long before puberty, but it becomes much more sexual during adolescence. It’s important for children to learn that masturbating is normal, is not harmful, and will not hurt their bodies.
In early puberty, girls and boys also become curious about the bodies of their peers — same-sex and other sex. It is common for them to look at each other’s sex organs. It is less common for them to touch each other’s sex organs, but this is normal, too. When children engage in this kind of normal touching, they usually do not do it frequently.