Puberty is the stage of transition from childhood to adulthood. The responsibility of a parent doesn’t decrease as the child grows, it increases along with age. A parent at this stage should take proper care of their child. Along with their physical needs, mental needs also should be taken care of.
It is the period when their body will undergo rapid changes which are mediated by hormones. There will be sexual, cognitive as well as psychological changes. Though we interchange the terms adolescence and puberty, but puberty deals with physical aspect and adolescence deals with entire process.
Puberty: Physical changes in Teens
What is Puberty?
Puberty mainly deals with the physical changes in our body at the teenage. Puberty is attained in the age group from 10- 19 years. This age is known as adolescence or commonly teenage. There are various hormonal changes in body which bring about pubertal changes.
Hormones acting in puberty
The hormones which act during puberty are-
- Luteinizing hormone
- Follicle stimulating hormones
Classification of puberty
Puberty cannot be as such demarcated clearly. But approximate changes are grouped and it is divided into three groups-
- Early puberty– age group from 10-13 years is considered as early puberty. The child starts developing and changes begin to appear. They start becoming curious about their body.
- Mid puberty– mid puberty is the age group from 14 to 16 years. It is a peak time for many changes. Proper support and information should be provided to the teen by their parents.
- Late puberty– it is the age group from 17-19 years. In this age group many of the changes have already occurred.
Physical changes in puberty
Girls- during puberty there are changes in the height and weight of a girl. The hip to body ratio increases. There is mainly gain of fat in the required places, which may result in increase in the weight. Height increases 16-28cm in girls. Changes in girls occur mainly in three stages as below-
- Thelerarche– thelarche means development of breast. This period extends from 8 years to 14 years. Girls develop breast in this age. There is appearance of breast buds early, later there is generalised breast enlargement. Nipple and areole form after 2nd month over the breast. Later in late phase, mature adult breast are formed, the size of the areola also is reduced. The fat mass thus increases in her body.
- Pubarche– pubarche means growing of pubic hairs. The hair in armpit and on vagina is known as pubic hair. At early phase there is growth of sparse straight hairs along the labia. Later they become pigmented and Corse. They also curl after some time. They spread over the entire Mons area. Adult triangular pattern of the hair is achieved in late phase. It averagely starts from 10 years and extends till 16 years.
- Menarche– the start of the menstrual cycle is known as menarche, it may begin anywhere between 10-16 years. The peak period is 13 years. But studies have found the age of menstruation advancing as early as 9 years. Menarche mainly happens 2-2.5 years after thelarche.
Boys- during puberty various physical changes take place. In boys height increases from 20-30 centimetres in this age. Also there is increase in bone mass, muscle mass in boys during this period. Some other important changes are
- Change in appearance of primary sexual organs– the penile and scrotal size increase in various stages.
- Spermarche– spearmarche is beginning of formation of sperms. It begins in mid puberty. Your son may start to experience night falls. Thus it is very necessary to educate him about these things beforehand.
- Pubarche– pubarche is the beginning of growth of pubic hairs. Pubic hairs in boys also are course, dark and curly. They are present at the penile base.
- Others– other changes like laryngeal growth and crackling of voice also take place at this age. Sometimes there may be breast enlargement during this age but later they subside.
Cognitive and psychological changes
Along with physical changes children undergo psychological changes also. Exact changes are largely unknown. As there is reorganization and accommodation of brain paralleling the multi-fold increase in functional capabilities.
Early phase-Teens become impulsive and have limited ability to foresee the consequences. Sometimes they become excessively conscious about for other people’s thoughts. Due to which they are more prone to come under peer pressure.
Mid phase- They may feel detached from family and seek more acceptances in some peer group. They begin to question and analyze situations. They seek reasoning. It is a step toward development and maturity.
Late phase- they are able to suppress impulsion. They begin a quest for self identification. They set their aims and goals.
These all development makes them a matured adult. This is considered as the optimum phase.
But due to various different scenarios every individual has faced, their behaviours changes and makes them unique. No two people can be compared based on their level of maturity. It depends on the development and various experience of individual. Hence it is very important that you give your child a proper environment to think, grow and develop.
Common problems in puberty
Nutritional health– at this age there are various changes taking place in a teen’s body, hence all the nutrients are absolutely necessary. Any deficiency may cause severe disease. As there is increase in bone mass and muscle mass, calcium intake should be increase. Otherwise, there may be ceasing of growth in case of deficiency. In girls due to beginning of menses, there are great chances of anaemia. Hence intake of iron should be increased
Mental health– as per as some studies, prevalence of mental illness like depression, anxiety, phobias are more in teenage. This is due to the excess thinking or various environmental factors. Communicate with your child but give him some privacy also. Gain the trust of your child; try to think for their point of view.
Sleep disturbance– due to growing age of technology and competitions. Today’s teens are either awake at night for study or on internet. Sleep cycle is commonly disturbed in many teens. it adds upto their stress, making them prone to anxiety and other such diseases.
Infections– teens are more prone and vulnerable to many infections. Due to less knowledge of sex they may indulge in rash behaviours. Thus risk of hepatitis infection, HIV, herpes and various sexually transmitted diseases also increases.
Lifestyle disease– in this age of fast foods and luxury many of the teens are suffering from obesity. Disease like hypertension is found in younger generation also. Deficiencies have also become common. It is necessary to get proper nutrients, importance of healthy lifestyle has to be taught to children
Menstrual problems– menstrual problem are common in teenage due to lack of knowledge and information. Get proper information from trusted source and educate your child. Teach her to maintain hygiene and keep track of her periods. Irregular periods may be early indicator of many diseases.
Substance abuse– teens being prone to peer pressure, may indulge themselves in substance abuse; it is very dangerous for them. Make sure you do not encourage these behaviours and teach them the disadvantage of substance abuse.
These were some changes occurring in teenage, it is very necessary that parents support their child in this period. Along with support some privacy and space is also necessary. Children, more than protector need someone who understands them in this age. Keep them well informed do not avoid their queries. All the best for this new chapter of life!