Adolescence can be an awkward time. Not only is a teen growing into an adult psychologically and emotionally, but they are also physically developing into an adult’s body. Essentially a teen goes through major developmental changes in order to find an identity and prepare for adulthood. These tasks have to do with a teen’s physical, intellectual, social, and emotional growth.
The physical changes include the biological transformation that prepare teens for sexual reproduction, which is known as puberty. Some teens might feel embarrassed about these changes. It might affect them socially, emotionally, and psychologically. This article will explore how to support your teen during this uncomfortable time.
In the United States, puberty is reached at around age 12.8 for girls and age 14 for boys. Of course, this age fluctuates with each teen. It can be as early as age 9 and as late as age 16 for girls, whereas puberty can begin in boys as early as age 11. As you can see, puberty happens at different times, depending on a teen’s gender. Yet, typically puberty takes place during early adolescence, often between the ages of 11 and 14. Because of the wide variations in age in relationship to puberty, it is hard to firmly define the beginning and end of adolescence. However, age 12 is often used as the start of the teenage years and age 20 often marks its end.
As there is a difference in age when it comes to puberty and gender, there are also differences in biological changes. For boys puberty is the time when they develop the ability to ejaculate semen, and for girls, it is their first menstrual period. Typically, puberty begins much earlier for girls than boys and is often followed by a growth spurt in both genders. This is an uncomfortable period of physical growth and sexual development. Although it’s uncomfortable, puberty is often over by mid-adolescence, meaning that a teen is often at their adult height by mid-adolescence. The physical growth in teens can certainly have an influence on their emotional and psychological growth, especially if they are concerned about their looks among peers.
For this reason, parents can keep the following in mind when a teen is going through puberty:
- Be patient with your teen. The changes they are going through are affecting them on many levels.
- Praise your teen. As mentioned above, the changes in physical appearance might affect a teen’s body image, sense of self-worth, and confidence. The more you can praise and compliment your teen, the better they will feel about themselves.
- Let your teen know that you love them. When teens know they are loved despite the changes in appearance, they develop more resiliency and inner strength.
- Accept your teen for who they are. Even you might not like the way your teen looks. They might appear gangly or awkward to you – their parent! But keep those opinions to yourself and love and accept your teen for who they are.
These are suggestions for supporting your teen through the discomfort of puberty. Fortunately, puberty doesn’t last as long as adolescence. Yet, no matter how long it lasts, keep your heart open to help your teen through these uncomfortable changes.