Boys and Puberty

Info Flash

To their great embarrassment, almost two-thirds of boys develop some swelling around the nipples during the early stages of puberty. This is normal. The puffiness will disappear within 12 to 18 months.

Boys are every bit as aware of their bodies as girls are, and in locker rooms, bathrooms, and gyms, they compare themselves to others constantly. Usually the tallest, strongest boys command the greatest stature among their peers, so the later your teen enters puberty, the more difficult it is for his self-esteem.

During their growth spurt, some boys become tall and reedy, and they may develop an interest in muscle-building (looking like a “weakling” makes them vulnerable to teasing). However, boys should wait until late puberty before they begin any type of weight-lifting program.

Tuning In

Sweat glands change in both boys and girls at this time, and you'll want to encourage your teen to start using deodorant— for peer acceptance as well as your own aromatic pleasure.

In addition to wanting to grow taller and more muscular, your son will be interested in the development of his reproductive organs. Growth of pubic hair is the most obvious indication of male puberty, but penile growth and enlargement of the testes actually begins before that. (Some boys start changing as early as age 10, and almost all boys will see some signs of development by the time they're 13 and a half.) Teenage boys will also notice that although they've had penile erections for their entire lives, these erections will become much more frequent during early or mid-puberty because of an increase in male sex hormones. All boys begin to experience erections when they don't anticipate them. (Sometimes these erections occur at the most awkward moments, like while standing in the hall talking to a girl or when called upon in class.)

Tuning In

It's vital that you talk to your teen about what's happening to his or her body. Ideally, parents should initiate basic discussions about growth and bodies, in age-appropriate ways, from the time their children can talk. This helps make the topic easier to talk about later on. While most parents realize that they have to talk to their daughter when she's about to start having periods, some neglect to have any discussions about development with their sons. Casual discussion is best, particularly in a situation where your teen can avoid eye contact.

They also occur frequently during sleep and some times result in nocturnal emissions. These are described as “wet dreams” because semen is released during sleep. This ejaculation is perfectly normal and is a sign that a boy is maturing sexually. With age, wet dreams will become less frequent because of masturbation and intercourse.

Boys sometimes are concerned about the development of the testes and penis. In most males, one testicle (usually the left) hangs lower than the other. Penis size also brings up feelings of anxiety, because boys with small penises are often teased by their peers. Most boys don't realize that the size of another boy's flaccid penis may be a poor indication of how large it is when erect. Also, male sexual function has nothing to do with penis size. Give your son the facts and tell him there's no reason for concern.

As a boy's larynx grows, it causes his voice to “crack”—a source of embarrassment for many boys. Once his larynx has enlarged to its full growth, your son's voice will deepen. Gone will be the days when he's be mistaken for his mother or sister when he answers the telephone!


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Teenager © 1996 by Kate Kelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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