The ‘Awkward’ Stage of Puberty

The ‘Awkward’ Stage of Puberty


Puberty is a significant phase in your kids’ growing-up years. At this time, your kids undergo dramatic biological changes as they transform from kids to adults. Not only do they undergo physical changes, but emotional changes as well.

Puberty typically occurs earlier in girls than in boys.

Perhaps you remember when puberty was awkward enough when you were the one going through it. How can you help your kids through all the changes? It is important that you talk with your kids about puberty. This way, you prepare them for the changes they are about to undergo.

[pq]Puberty is that stage when young boys and girls become sexually mature.[/pq]


In girls, puberty occurs between age 8 and 13. In boys, it occurs between age 10 and 15. Some children begin a little earlier than these ages. This is the reason some children still look like young kids whereas others look more like adults.

As your kids approach adolescence, they go through the five stages of puberty. In most girls, the first sign of puberty is enlargement of the breasts. The first sign of puberty in most boys is an increase in the size of the testicles.



Stage 1 Prepubertal

No sexual development


No sexual development

Stage 2 Testes enlarge

Body odor

Breasts budding

First pubic hair

Body odor

Height spurt

Stage 3 Penis enlarges

Pubic hair starts growing

Ejaculation (“wet dreams”)


Breasts enlarge

Pubic hair darkens, becomes curlier

Vaginal discharge

Stage 4 Continued enlargement of testes and penis

Penis and scrotal sac deepen in color

Pubic hair curlier and coarser

Height spurt

Male breast development

Onset of menstruation

Nipple is distinct from areola

Stage 5 Fully mature adult

Pubic hair extends to inner thighs

Increases in height slow down, then stops

Fully mature female

Pubic hair extends to inner thighs

Increases in height slow down, then stops

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At some point, usually not until after your daughters’ 8th birthday, or after your sons turn 9 or 10, an area of the brain called the hypothalamus starts to release gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).

GnRH travels to the pituitary gland (a small gland under the brain that produces hormones that control other glands throughout the body) that triggers it to release two more puberty hormones – luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). These hormones dramatically affect your kids’ development.

The process continues and what happens next depends on your kids’ sex. For your sons, the puberty hormones travel through the bloodstream to the testes and give the signal to start producing sperm and the male hormone testosterone.

For your daughters, the puberty hormones travel to the ovaries and set off the maturation and release of egg cells and the production of estrogen, the hormone that prepares your daughters’ bodies for conception.


[pq]It is important to talk with your kids about the changes in their bodies during puberty.[/pq]


When you first notice these changes, you should have educated them on what to expect during puberty.

Have a series of talks with your kids, ideally when they are still young and only starting to ask questions about their bodies. Each time you talk, give more and more details, depending on your kids’ maturity level and interest in the topic.

When they have a question, give an answer right away. If, as parents, you feel uncomfortable or uncertain about having these discussions, ask your family doctor for advice.