What boys need to know about puberty

Preparing boys for how their body will change during puberty.
Preparing boys for how their body will change during puberty. Photo: Stocksy

Do you have a son and think you'll have it easy when they enter puberty? Don't be so sure. It's true that boys start puberty later than girls but they go through just as many physical and emotional changes.

Although my son is not quite 10, I'm already thinking about what he'll need to know before he turns 11. He stopped undressing in front of me long ago and he already has some angst. I chalk this up to a 'boy thing' but secretly hope he's not an early bloomer.

Boys typically enter puberty between 11-13 years old. Erections in class and wet dreams are often the things people associate with boys and puberty. It's not just about that. There are other important things happening to a boy's body during puberty but we may as well get the penis stuff out of the way first up. 

Penis Predicaments

There's a lot happening to a boy's genitals during puberty. Puberty brings a boost of the hormone, testosterone, which is responsible for the growth of the testicles and penis, as well as the production of sperm. Boys are infamous for comparing penis size. Let them know that size is not that important and when it gets cold, it does shrink. Don't let your son have a George Costanza moment.

Things are getting interesting down there and with it, interesting times. Erections may be frequent and sudden. You may find your son spending more time alone in his room or in the bathroom. Wet dreams (ejaculating while asleep) are a real, but normal part of puberty for boys. The good news: erections go away and sticky sheets can be washed.

I don't have a penis but I went through puberty feeling alone and embarrassed because nobody told me about the changes that would happen to my body. I have a son and I don't want him to go through that kind of humiliation. When I need to talk to him about erections and wet dreams, I will.

Growth Spurt

You son's physical features will start to change between 12-14 years old. He will get taller and his head, hands and feet will grow, sometimes all at different times. This may cause him to look out of proportion and lanky. Boys typically stop growing by 18 or 20 years old.

Voice Changes

As the larynx (Adam's Apple or voice box) gets bigger, a boy's voice begins to change. His voice will squeak as the vocal chords stretch and grow. He may have fluctuations between high and low tones. When the larynx is finished expanding, your son will have a deeper, more masculine voice.


Those hormones and body changes are playing havoc with your son's moods and behaviour. The rudeness, lateness, messiness, moodiness, anger and sleeping-in are all normal side-effects of puberty. He's going through many physical, emotional and social changes, not to mention pressures at school. WebMD suggests exercise, a drive together, yoga, meditation, a diet change and quality sleep (yes, more sleep) to ease the stress. Do you also have a daughter? Guess what?  She'll be prone to it too.


Body Hair

Boys and girls develop pubic and underarm hair during puberty. They both also get thicker hair on their arms and legs. But boys also have to deal with hair growing on their chest, back and face. We've all seen cute photos of toddlers with their dads "shaving", now it's time for the real deal. Like other body hair, facial hair comes in soft and wispy. When your son chooses to shave his face will be a personal choice, but some tutoring from a trusted male is probably a good idea.

Body Odour

Good personal hygiene is the key to keeping body odour at bay. Sweat does not have a smell but the bacteria that lives on our skin does. The start of puberty is a good time to start wearing daily deodorant and increasing washing habits. It may be a good idea to pack your child an extra school shirt and socks  to avoid embarrassing teasing if BO strikes. Nobody should have to endure being teased and called "odour arms" by their peers.


While BO and body hair can be hidden, acne and pimples most often cannot. New hormones are responsible for the changes in oil-producing glands that may become over-active and create pimples.  It's not dirt that create pimples, just blocked glands. Some foods may cause pimples to flare up so cut back on them for relief. Teach your child how to gently wash their face and affected areas twice a day and encourage them to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Drinking lots of filtered water can work wonders too.

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