Let’s Talk…Puberty

The In’s and Out’s of Puberty

It’s exciting seeing our children grow and there comes a point where it’s time to talk to them about puberty. 

Puberty is the time when your body, internally and externally is maturing, brought on by your levels of hormones. Hormonal changes begin in the mid-primary school years, but puberty properly starts at around 10 – 11 years for girls and 11 – 12 years for boys, although everyone is different.

From emotional rollercoasters to body development, as your children hit puberty it’s changes all round and something we all go through. It can be confronting for children and their parents but a topic that is helpful to be addressed and spoken about to reduce fear and apprehension.

Below are some changes your children will face.

Physical changes for girls 

  • Body shape – Their hips may widen, and their shape becomes a curvier. 
  • Height – They may have sudden growth spurts!
  • Acne – Acne can be very challenging for some children going through puberty. Hormones increase the levels of oil on the face and pores become blocked causing blackheads, whiteheads and boils. Depending on the severity, this can greatly affect some children’s confidence.
  • Breast growth and tenderness – Tenderness as the breasts grow is perfectly normal but if you’re concerned, it’s always a good idea to check with your GP.
  • Hair growth – Hair will start to grow around the pubic area, under arms, and hair on the legs and arms may darken and become thicker.
  • Vaginal discharge – They may start to get a clear or whitish discharge from their vagina. This is a normal, natural self-cleaning process. If the discharge has an unusual smell or colour your child could have an infection so it’s worth checking in with your GP if you’re unsure.
  • Periods – Menstrual periods are one of the most common topics between girls aged 10-13 and can be scary if not spoken about before it arrives. It will help your child if they feel prepared if their period starts when they are at school, so consider purchasing pads or period underwear for this time.

Physical changes for boys 

The physical changes that happen for boys around puberty include:

  • Height and muscle growth – They are likely to grow and put on some muscle during this time. 
  • Acne – They may develop acne. This is a condition of the skin that shows up as bumps – most commonly on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back and chest. These bumps can be blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or cysts. 
  • Voice changes – Their voice will get deeper and may fluctuate between high and low sounds in one sentence! This is often referred to as your voice breaking.
  • Hair growth – Body hair starts to grow around the pubic area, legs, under the arms and on the face. This can continue well into the late teens/early 20’s for some males. 
  • Genital growth – Testicles and penis will get bigger and sometimes can be uneven in size. This is perfectly normal but your Doctor can assist if you are worried about this. 
  • Erections – Sometimes erections happen out of nowhere or if emotions are heightened. This can be embarrassing for some boys so reassuring them that this is normal can be helpful.

Emotional changes during puberty

With this fluctuation of hormones can come a fluctuation in emotional responses too. 

This can begin before you start to see the physical changes of puberty.

You may find that your child is struggling with their sleep patterns, pushes boundaries, and has sudden shifts in mood. They may also start to feel self-conscious or easily frustrated and angry.

Exploring, taking risks and sometimes acting impulsively can happen during this time. Working through these with your child with open communication can help but sometimes external support is needed to make sure everyone is kept safe and feeling secure. 

If you need guidance or support on how to help your child during these physical and emotional changes, see your GP. 

They’re here to help. Book online to see your supportive GP who can assist you with any concerns you or your child may have at activemed.com.au/bookings/ or call 03 9363 0954.

Other sources of support:

Issues for young people – Beyond Blue

Mood Swings | Kids Helpline

Gender | Advice & Tips | ReachOut Australia