From Boys to Men – When Your Son Hits Puberty

As the mother of a little girl, I know I need not worry how to deal with male puberty. However, my neighbour and best friend is trying to wrap her head around her son’s emotional shifts and feels lost as to how to approach these early symptoms of puberty.

I figured to the benefit of her, and many other parents confused about their little boy’s sudden changes, I would write an article addressing this very issue.

If your little boy is experiencing this major emotional and physical change, read on to gain a clearer understanding as to what exactly is going on:

What is puberty?

I know you know what puberty is – you’ve experienced it. But sometimes putting it into words to help your son understand may be challenging. Here is a simple and concise definition you can use to explain the process to your child:

  • Puberty is a time when the body goes through many changes – both physically and emotionally.
  • Puberty is caused by hormonal changes in the body. Hormones are natural chemicals in the body that control many things including how one feels and how ones body grows.
  • Males possess a high level of a hormone called testosterone, which causes the changes in the body that happen during puberty.

When does it start?

Not how puberty works.

While girls tend to get a head start on puberty, boys are not far behind. Boys typically hit puberty between the ages of 9 and 14. However, puberty officially begins as soon as your son’s body is ready and may not adhere to this specific age range.

Puberty is a process that can take a few years. It’s not an overnight occurrence – there are many changes that need to happen in the body. Just like any change the body experiences – pregnancy for women, healing damage ,beginning a new medication – puberty takes time.

Physical Changes

Unless you and your son have a relationship with super open communication, you are likely not going to know that most of this is going on. It is and knowing what kinds of physical changes are happening with your child is important to helping him through this process.

  • Penis and testes grow bigger.
  • Body shape changes as more muscle tissue forms.
  • Body grows taller, sometimes very quickly.
  • Hair begins to grow around genitals, chest, arms, armpits, legs and face.
  • Testicles will begin to create sperm. Sperm will combine with other fluids to create semen or ejaculate. A “wet dream” may occur when the penis becomes erect and ejaculates during sleep.
  • Size growth will eventually slow down toward the end of puberty but hair and muscle growth may continue.

Emotional Changes

Physical changes are usually easier to deal with because these are changes your son can see. Emotional changes, however, are unknown territory and your child will likely have difficulty recognizing and dealing with these changes.

  • Mood swings
  • Tiredness
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Self-consciousness
  • Sexual desire and/or arousal

How can I help my son deal with puberty?

First of all, you need to recognize that it is happening and communicate to your son that you are aware of the changes and available to answer any questions he may have. This show of support is crucial in helping your child develop an understanding about what is going on.

Try to avoid teasing and making a fuss about the changes. Boys can be very self-conscious during this time of their life and any negative attention toward their experience with puberty may affect their self-esteem.

Otherwise, there are things you can do to help him work through the various symptoms:

  • Let your son know that his feelings and mood swings are completely normal. Give him permission to experience these emotions and help him to label and identify what he is feeling.
  • Try not to react to the rollercoaster of emotions. If your child snaps at you, don’t snap back. Allow him time to calm down.
  • Explain the physical changes he will experience throughout puberty. Giving him this knowledge will help him to deal with the changes as they happen.
  • Encourage his independence. During this time, children are developing into adults so your son will likely be seeking more space and responsibility.
  • Make sure your son knows that he can ask you anything. This article is not a comprehensive guide but you should make the effort to research if you do not know the answers to his questions.

You Will Get Through It

This is a tough time fraught with many changes. While you may not be able to completely understand what your son is experiencing, you can arm yourself with knowledge to help him along the way.

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