family & pregnancy

You are here > WomenRepublic.co.uk > Family > Parenting Tips > Puberty

Puberty is the physical process where a child's body develops into an adult body and is therefore capable of reproduction. It can be a difficult period for parents as well as the child himself/herself. The following is all you need to know about puberty from a parent's perspective.

Puberty Stages In Girls

- at approximately eight years of age puberty begins with the production of three types of hormones by the brain: the follicle stimulating hormone, the luteinizing hormone and the gonadotropin hormone
- these hormones travel to the ovaries which triggers the production of estrogen and the maturation and release of eggs
- the first physical sign of puberty is the development of breasts, although occasionally it can be pubic hair growth
- a year or two after these initial puberty signs she will experience a substantial growth spurt with particular fat development around the hips, thighs, breasts and buttocks
- the final stage is the arrival of her first period which can occur anywhere between the ages of 10 and 16, depending her age when puberty began.

Puberty Stages In Boys

- at approximately ten years of age puberty begins with the production of three types of hormones by the brain: the follicle stimulating hormone, the luteinizing hormone and the gonadotropin hormone
- these hormones travel to the testicles which triggers the production of sperm and testosterone
- the first physical sign of puberty is the growth of pubic hair and the enlargement of the testicles
- a year or two after these initial puberty signs he will experience a substantial growth spurt with particular development of his limbs and hands and feet. Over the next six or seven years the body will continue to grow and he will gradually develop body hair. During this period at widely different ages for each boy many other changes will take place; his penis will grow, he will begin to get much larger erections, he will begin to experience penal discharge during sleep and of course his voice will break

Puberty Issues for Parents

There are many potential problems that puberty can bring. It's one of your most important roles as a parent to help you children deal with these issues. The physical and mental effects of puberty can have a damaging effect on a child which can stay with them well into adulthood.

Acne and Pimples

Pimples and acne are caused by glands in the skin that produce a natural oil called sebum. The hormones produced during puberty cause the glands to make extra sebum. This is can block the pores of the skin which is the usual cause of a pimple. Regular, gently washing with a mild soap or soap free cleanser can help remove the sebum from the skin and prevent the occasional pimple. Unfortunately, many children suffer from more severe outbreaks of spots often referred to as acne. Many forms of medication are available that can help with this problem. If your child has really bad acne you should consult a dermatologist who will give you the best advice on how to treat it.

Erections

Boys have erections from a young age but with the onset of puberty their erections become much larger and of course they are now capable of ejaculation. A boys first experience of ejaculating usually occurs between the ages of twelve and fifteen. This can occur due to sexual thoughts, in the form of a wet dream or during actual masturbation. If a boy doesn't know what is happening to him, this can be troubling.

Masturbation

With the release of hormones during puberty most boys and girls will have a greater desire to masturbate. This is a perfectly normal process with no adverse physical or mental effects. However, if a child is excessively masturbating it may be a sign of an underlying problem. Talking about this will be extremely difficult because of the embarrassment and sometimes shame a child may feel. If you are worried talk to your local GP.

Penis and Breast Size

Many developing children will worry about the size of their sexual organs. If they feel they have the smallest breasts or penis or indeed the largest breasts it can be a cause of depression. If you feel you child may be concerned, seek to reassure them from time to time. Don't sit them down for a serious talk. Instead make it as informal as possible and if you can make it seem that you aren't actually talking about them. For example make a comment about someone you are watching on television.

A Final Thought

Most children will be troubled by puberty at some point in their development. Some will deal with these issues perfectly well themselves but others will have difficulties. All you can do is make sure they understand what they're going through and be there whenever they need support.

Can I have IVF treatment on the NHS?

Fertility & Pregnancy

IVF

Artificial insemination
Learn about the costs, risks and probability of success from this infertility procedure.

Treatment abroad
What you need to know about having fertility treatment overseas.

Gender selection
A guide to the legal and moral aspects of choosing the sex of your baby.

Diet & Weight Loss