A Science Teacher, Content creator, constant Learner and a Mother.
Are Puberty and Adolescence synonyms ?
When a child is small, it becomes difficult to tell from the appearance whether the child is a boy or a girl. This happens because boys and girls have the same body shape and structure.
As the child reaches the age of 10, sudden rapid growth occurs and body changes start which makes the boy and girl appear drastically different. A boy can be differentiated from a girl by their physical appearance, behavior, and mannerisms.
These visible changes in the body when accompanied by mental, emotional, psychological maturity are termed puberty.
Whereas, Adolescence is the period between puberty and adulthood(10- 19 years). It starts the day you hit puberty till the day you attain adulthood.
What changes can you expect in Puberty
Puberty is a phase of life every individual experiences. Puberty in girls starts between 8 and 13 years, whereas, in boys, it starts between 10 and 14 years of age. It is a transition phase in the life of a child. It is characterized by changes in physical, mental, emotional, and social levels. The changes seen in both boys and girls with the onset of puberty are:
- Puberty is marked by physical changes in both boys and girls.
- Sweat glands become active and start producing more sweat.
- Pimples or acne appear due to the increased activity of oil glands or sebaceous glands.
- The sex organs grow and become functionally active.
- Testes start producing male sex cells or gametes called sperm.
- Ovaries grow and release one mature egg or ovum in a periodic cycle of 28 days.
- Increase in size of the penis in boys.
- Development of breasts in girls.
- Puberty results in intellectual, emotional, and psychological maturity.
- The growing child may experience mood swings.
- The child feels drawn more towards peer groups and gradually drifts away from parents.
What is meant by Secondary Sexual Characters
All the changes that occur during puberty are included as the changes in adolescence. After the age of ten years, an individual becomes an adolescent and experiences a lot of physical changes in the body. They are called Secondary Sexual Characters.
Secondary Sexual Characters in Boys
- Sudden growth spurt increases their height as their legs grow faster than other parts of the body.
- Strong muscles start to develop.
- Broadening of shoulders and widening of chest results in a change of shape of the body.
- Cracking or breaking of the voice is soon followed by deep voice and form a protruding structure on their neck called Adam's apple
- Active sweat glands result in the formation of sweat.
- Sebaceous glands become active producing sebum or oily secretion which gives rise to pimples and acne.
- Development of reproductive organs to produce gametes or sex cells and secrete reproductive hormones.
- Growth of facial hair and body hair under armpits and pubic region.
Secondary Sexual Characters in Girls
- Girls also show a rapid increase in height due to faster growth of legs.
- Development of shaped muscles
- Girls develop broad shoulders, fuller hips, and narrow waists.
- Develop high pitched voice or feminine voice
- Sebaceous glands secrete a lot of oil or sebum which leads to the development of pimples or acne.
- Sweat glands become very active.
- Growth of hair in the pubic region and underarms.
- Ovaries are active and secrete female sex hormones.
- Development of mammary glands.
- Females exhibit a menstrual cycle every month during the reproductive phase.
Do Hormones have any role to play ?
Yes! Hormones are chemical messengers that play a vital role in maturing sex hormones at the right time and initiating reproductive function.
A pair of testes form male sex glands. Testes are located in a structure called the scrotum ( small pouch-like structure). which distends below from the abdominal region to maintain low temperature. Low temperature favours the formation of sperms in the testes. Testes secrete the hormone testosterone.
Testosterone controls and initiates the changes occurring in males also called secondary sexual characters which include a deeper voice, facial and body hair, development of the penis, broadening of the shoulder, etc. It also controls the growth and maturation of sperms.
A pair of ovaries form female sex gonads. Ovaries are located on either side of the abdominal cavity. Ovaries produce two hormones- estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen controls the changes that occur in puberty like feminine voice, soft skin, development of mammary glands, narrow waist and fuller hips, growth of pubic hair, and controls the release of mature eggs whereas progesterone controls the functioning of the menstrual cycle and helps in the maintenance of pregnancy.
Mood Swings during Puberty
During puberty, hormones are super active. The child has to balance external or physical changes and internal or mental changes. The child's emotions may be stronger and more intense--their mood might change quickly, and frequently. It is common to feel confused, angry, scared, irritable, etc.
During puberty, the brain starts strengthening those parts that allow them to feel intense and complex emotions. However, the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling and regulating emotions, decision making, the reasoning is one last to develop.
This will leave the child feeling that their emotions are not in their control, and lack the capacity to manage them. In return, cause more irritation and frustration. If these situations persist, might give rise to depression.
Poll for Parents
How Parents can help with Puberty
Puberty is a massive change for your child as well as for you as a parent. The child is already confused about the sudden changes he/she has to witness in their body. If parents are ill-informed, they can add to the child's misery. There are some tips and tricks parents can use to understand and manage their growing child.
- Parents should educate and keep themselves updated about topics like puberty and take time out to talk to their growing children.
- The child can be misled by the information available on the internet. Informed parents can come to their rescue here.
- Respect your child's privacy. He/she is growing to be an adult.
- The child is observing you. So,live a healthy life, exercise, and be a role model to your kids.
- Guide your child's behavior, attitudes and do mentor them to accept their growing body without feeling ashamed.
To conclude, this is an exciting phase for the growing adolescent. Every living being in their entire lifespan do undergo different stages of life namely birth, childhood, puberty, adolescence, adulthood, aging, and ultimately death.
Puberty is a stepping stone to adulthood. It determines a child's transition to a healthy and normal adult. A sound and complete knowledge of puberty and adolescence will pave the way for growing kid's overall development. Parents too had at some point in their life experienced puberty, so it becomes even more important for them as a family to understand the concepts and act accordingly.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Poonam Francis