How much will my adolescent grow?
The teenage years are also called adolescence. During this time,
parents will see the greatest amount of growth in height and weight in
their child. Adolescence is a time for growth spurts and puberty
changes. An adolescent may grow several inches in several months
followed by a period of very slow growth, then have another growth
spurt. Changes with puberty (sexual maturation) may occur gradually or
several signs may become visible at the same time.
There is a great amount of variation in the rate of changes that may
occur. Some teenagers may experience these signs of maturity sooner or
later than others. The following indicates the average for adolescents
13 to 18 years old:
|Females (between 13 to 18 years)|
Weight: 68 to 110 pounds
Height: 8.5 to 9.5 inches
|Males: (between 13 to 18 years)|
Weight: 76 to 118 pounds
Height: 10.5 to 20 inches
8 to 13 years of age
|Males:||9.5 to 14 years of age|
What changes will occur during puberty?
Sexual and other physical maturation that occurs during puberty is a
result of hormonal changes. As a child nears puberty, a gland in the
brain, called the pituitary gland, increases the secretion of a hormone
called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone then causes
additional effects. In girls, FSH activates the ovaries to start
producing estrogen. In boys, FSH causes sperm to develop.
In boys, it is difficult to know exactly when puberty is coming.
There are changes that occur, but they occur gradually and over a period
of time, rather than as a single event. While each male adolescent is
different, the following are average ages when puberty changes may
- Beginning of puberty: 9.5 to 14 years old
- First pubertal change: enlargement of the testicles
- Penis enlargement: begins approximately one year after the testicles begin enlarging
- Appearance of pubic hair: 13.5 years old
- Hair under the arms and on the face, voice change, and acne: 15 years old
- Nocturnal emissions (or "wet dreams"): 14 years old
Girls also experience puberty as a sequence of events, but their
pubertal changes usually begin before boys of the same age. Each girl is
different and may progress through these changes differently. The
following are average ages when puberty changes may occur:
- Beginning of puberty: 8 to 13 years
- First pubertal change: breast development
- Pubic hair development: shortly after breast development
- Hair under the arms: 12 years old
- Menstrual periods: 10 to 16.5 years old
There are specific stages of development that both boys and girls go
through when developing secondary sexual characteristics (the physical
characteristics of males and females that are not involved in
reproduction such as voice changes, body shape, pubic hair distribution,
and facial hair). The following is a brief overview of the changes that
- In boys, the initial puberty change is the enlargement of the
scrotum and testes. At this point, the penis does not enlarge. Then, as
the testes and scrotum continue to enlarge, the penis gets longer. Next,
the penis will continue to grow in both size and length.
- In girls, the initial puberty change is the development of breast
buds, in which the breast and nipple elevate. The areola (dark area of
skin that surrounds the nipple of the breast) increases in size at this
time. The breasts then continue to enlarge. Eventually, the nipples and
the areolas will elevate again, forming another projection on the
breasts. At the adult state, only the nipple remains erect.
- Pubic hair development is similar for both girls and boys. The
initial growth of hair produces long, soft hair that is only in a small
area around the genitals. This hair then becomes darker and coarser as
it continues to spread. The pubic hair eventually looks like adult hair,
but in a smaller area. It may spread to the thighs and, sometimes, up
What does my adolescent understand?
The teenage years bring many changes, not only physically, but also
mentally and socially. During these years, adolescents increase their
ability to think abstractly and eventually make plans and set long-term
goals. Each child may progress at a different rate and may have a
different view of the world. In general, the following are some of the
abilities that may be evident in your adolescent:
- develops the ability to think abstractly
- is concerned with philosophy, politics, and social issues
- thinks long-term
- sets goals
- compares one's self to one's peers
As your adolescent begins to struggle for independence and control,
many changes may occur. The following are some of the issues that may be
involved with your adolescent during these years:
- wants independence from parents
- peer influence and acceptance becomes very important
- male-female relationships become important
- may be in love
- has long-term commitment in relationship
How to assist your adolescent in developing socially:
Consider the following as ways to foster your adolescent's social abilities:
- Encourage your adolescent to take on new challenges.
- Talk with your adolescent about not losing sight of one's self in group relations.
- Encourage your adolescent to talk to a trusted adult about problems
or concerns, even if it is not you he/she chooses to talk with.
- Discuss ways to manage and handle stress.