This page is divided into two parts. First, for kids. Second, for parents.
Part I: I'm Turning Into A Dude:
What's This Whole Puberty Thing?
Puberty is a time in which your body - and everything else - changes. A lot. Pretty much everything changes when you go through puberty. Boys go through puberty a little older than girls do (boys usually go through puberty between age 9 and 14), so you might see girls in your class developing breasts and getting menstrual periods before you notice any changes in your body.
Unlike those obvious symptoms with girls, it's a little harder and longer process for boys to go through puberty. Slowly, your body gets bigger, you get big muscles, your voice changes, you get erections and hair in weird places. You may start feeling special feelings about girls (or boys).
Here are some things you can expect when you're going through puberty.
Okay, So What Can I Expect?
Finally, I'm Getting Taller Than The Girls:
Part of puberty involves getting taller and bigger - sometimes close to growing 4 inches a year. I'm sure you're relieved - you're probably tired of being shorter than girls in your class.
The first parts of your body to grow are your head, arms, and feet. Following that, your arms and legs grow. Then your chest and shoulders catch up with rest of you.
When you grow, it may make your legs ache as well as making you kinda clumsy. It's okay - you'll grow out of it.
Also? You'll be getting muscles, which is one of those things I'm sure you've been waiting on. You may not get big muscles right away, but it's a big part of puberty and a HUGE part of making you feel like a real dude. You'll get there.
*Blushes* What's Up Down There:
In the first part of puberty, your scrotum (the bag that holds your balls) grows larger. The skin of the scrotum may turn darker colors and change texture, kinda like a chicken skin.
Your penis will grow - first in length, then in width. Soon, you will experience your first ejaculation (but we'll get into that later).
You'll also notice first that some pubic hair is growing on the base of your penis. That'll grow to spread through the whole crotchal region and eventually down your legs. Pubic hair may come in a little thin and possibly straight, but before you're done with puberty, it will be thick and curly.
Why Do I Suddenly Dig Girls (or Boys)?
The hormones that are making your body change size and shape have another effect on you - you'll begin to feel something about girls (or guys). You might get a crush on someone special and think about him or her a LOT. It's a weird fluttery, sometimes scary feeling. Rest assured, it's normal. And if you want, maybe talk to an older brother or sister or your Mom and Dad about your feelings.
Speaking Of Hair, What About Shaving?
While you're going through puberty, you'll start growing hair in weird places. First, under your arms, then on your face. Usually, it starts on your upper lip, giving you a weird looking mustache, then spreads to the cheeks, on the chin, and the sides of your face.
Ask your mom or dad about shaving and when you should start. Everyone develops facial hair at different rates and once you start shaving, you have to keep at it.
The Dreaded Acne:
During puberty, your sweat and oil glands begin to develop which can lead to zits and blackheads. Not everyone gets a bad case of acne, but if you're noticing that you have a ton of zits, ask your mom or dad to take you to the dermatologist. Also, wash your face with soap in the morning and at night - should help with some of the breakouts.
Deodorant - Do I Need It?
The long and short of it is this: yes. You will need to start putting on deodorant after your shower each morning - this will help you not smell like a dirty sock AND make you stop sweating through your clothes. You don't want to be known as the stinky kid, especially when you have tons of options for smelling awesome.
My Voice - I Sound Like An Asshole Frog:
At the same time as your penis begins growing, your voice will begin to change. This can be TOTALLY embarrassing, but don't worry too much about it - all dudes your age have the same thing happen. Your voice will gradually turn deeper - it might crack (holy embarrassing, Batman), especially when you're talking to the girl you're crushing on.
*Blushes Harder* What About Erections?
Sometimes, when you're feeling some sexual feelings or just sometimes just at weird random times (like during Social Studies), you'll start getting what is technically called an erection. You'll also hear it called "boners," "hard-on," and "woody."
During an erection, your penis fills with blood, gets hard, grows in size, and stands up and out from the body.
When you have an erection, it feels good, so most boys touch it when they're in private (it's not a public process) until they reach orgasm, and semen is released from the tip of the penis. Semen is a white, sticky material that contains sperm cells - the cells that combine with a woman's egg to make a baby. This is called masturbation and it feels good, and it's perfectly healthy to engage in it. Just do it in private and use a tissue to clean up the semen with.
Wet Dreams - Gimmie The Scoop:
Dudes sometimes get erections at night when they're sleeping. While you're sleeping, your penis might even ejaculate on your sheets or in your underwear. This is a "wet dream" or (more properly) a "nocturnal emission" and is what happens when your penis ejaculates semen - NOT URINE.
Okay - I'm Still Short... Puberty Hasn't Started:
Puberty is largely determined by genetics - another legacy from Mom and Dad. Likely, you'll start puberty at a similar time as your parents. Some guys start puberty at nine and some don't start until they're 14. It's not a big deal. It'll happen - I promise.
Part II - Puberty For Boys For Mom and Dad: A Primer:
When Do I Start Talking About Puberty?
Unlike us, kids today are exposed to a lot more information at earlier ages about sex, sexuality and relationships. By the time your son hits puberty, he may already be aware of a lot more information about sex and sexuality.
We can't change the world, so we, as parents, we have to start discussing puberty sooner. We must arm our children with information - proper information - and discuss sex and sexuality openly.
Age 8 is when we should start talking about the emotional changes of puberty with our sons. It seems young, but the emotional changes of puberty occur over a number of years, starting around age 8 or 9. And we should talk not only about the changes our sons will go through, but also what girls will go through, as sex ed in school generally segregates boys and girls.
Read more about puberty in girls.
What Are Stages of Puberty For Boys?
Puberty doesn't occur overnight. In fact, it takes many years for a boy to go through puberty. Puberty for boys occurs in stages over a couple of years:
1) Stage One: Age Range 9-12 - average is 10 years of age. During Stage One of puberty for boys, the male hormones become active, even if there aren't a lot of outward signs of development. Stage One of puberty in boys involves maturing testicles and often a big growth spurt.
2) Stage Two: Age Range 9-15 - average age is 12-13 years old.
During Stage Two of male puberty, the testicles and scrotum begin to enlarge, but the size of the penis doesn't increase a lot. Very little - if any - pubic hair begins to grow at the base of the penis while the body grows taller and changes shape.
3) Stage Three: Age Range 11-16- average age is 13-14 years old.
During Stage Three of puberty for boys, the penis begins to grow longer, but not wider, while the scrotum and testicles grow. Pubic hair darkens and becomes more coarse and begins to spread toward the legs. Hair around the anus may begin to grow. As the boy increases in height, his body and shape begin to look more adult. The voice may begin to crack.
4) Stage Four: Age Range 11-17 - average age is 14-15 years old.
During Stage Four of puberty for boys, the penis grows in width and length while the scrotum and testicles continue their growth. Pubic hair grows coarser while underarm and facial hair begins to grow. The skin becomes more oily and a boy may experience his first ejaculation.
5) Stage Five: Age Range 14-18 - average age is 16 years of age.
By Stage Five of male puberty, the boy is nearing adult height and body shape. His pubic hair and genitals resemble those of an adult as facial and possibly chest hair grows in. He may begin to have to shave his face.
The Behavior of Boys During Puberty:
One of the most common struggles that parents of preteens and teenagers have is that their sons change a lot. While most of the physical changes may find you shelling out tons of cash for new clothes and shoes as your son grows. Personality-wise, it can be extremely challenging to parent through puberty. The hormones that are causing the body to change are also playing with the behavior of your son. Here are some things you can expect in terms of the preteen behavior:
- He's gotten super clumsy. As he grows and changes during puberty, he will not only go through periods of looking awkward, but also being awkward. It's just him adjusting to his new and changing body.
- He may be hella moody - the simplest things (not having the "right" shoes or dinner) may become an epic fight. It's the testosterone talking, and while you may not like it, it's not entirely under his control just yet.
- He's become super aggressive. Again, it's the testosterone coursing through his body in greater quantities than he's used to.
- He's always sleeping. With all the changes his body is going through, it's no surprise that he has to catch up on sleep.
- Masturbation, dirty sheets and sexual thoughts are all normal parts of being a teenage boy going through puberty.
Okay, So What Do I Say About Puberty To My Son?
The most important thing that a parent can reassure his or her child that the changes he is experiencing is normal - ALL of it is normal. Reassure him that it's okay to feel insecure about the way he looks and the way his voice sounds as it changes.
Here are some points to hit while talking to your son about puberty:
Go through what to expect during puberty:
- Girls become rounder in the hips and legs.
- Girls breasts grow, sometimes at different rates.
- Both boys AND girls get hair in their underarms as well as pubic hair. This hair will spread down their legs and become thicker.
- Tell your daughter that you will teach her to shave her legs and armpits when she is ready.
- Both boys and girls get oily skin and may get acne.
- Both boys and girls should begin to wear deodorant as puberty means that your child will begin to sweat and smell.
- Both boys and girls will grow taller.
- The penis and testicles of boys grow and become bigger.
- Boys' voices change and become deeper.
- Boys grow facial hair.
- Boys get bigger muscles.
- Boys get "nocturnal emissions" or wet dreams - in which they ejaculate in their sleep.
- When a girl starts her period and gets it regularly once a month, her uterine lining fills with blood in preparation for a fertilized egg. If the egg is unfertilized, she will have her period. If it's fertilized, she will become pregnant.
- A girl's period may last for three days to a week.
- Explain how to use a tampon or maxipad during her period.
And don't neglect the sex talk. While it may be uncomfortable to talk to your son about sex, it's very important that he gets the proper information from his parents and feels open enough to discuss what is going on in his life.
Read more about how to talk to teens about sex.
Remind your son that no matter how embarrassing the subject, you're there to talk to him at any time. Ask your son every now and again about his life - don't assume that he'll come to you unprompted.
Additional Puberty For Boys Resources:
Advocates for Youth – a resource for helping young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Many articles and resources are available in several languages. Includes areas and information for both parents and teenagers.
Siecus – The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. This organization was founded to provide accurate information on sexuality to young people and adults.
SexEdLibrary – a comprehensive online resource for all things about sexual education.
The National Campaign To Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy – was primarily founded to help prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy. They support teaching responsible sexual behavior to both young men and women. They have specific resources for African-American youth and the Latino community.
Stay Teen – this sister site to The National Campaign is geared toward teenagers and they strive to provide teenagers with facts about sex and to provide them with unbiased information and different viewpoints. Some articles are even written by teenagers themselves.