Parents

Your Healthy Teen

Puberty

Teens entering puberty experience a great number of changes in their appearance, thinking ability, and social interactions. Not all adolescents go through puberty at the same time. Boys tend to show the physical signs of puberty between the ages of 11 – 14, whereas girls typically begin puberty slightly earlier, between the ages of 9 – 13. However, it is important to note that both the physical and mental development depends on many factors including:

  1. genetics 
  2. family 
  3. friends
  4. values 
  5. neighbors
  6. others in society

The physical changes boys experience during puberty include:

      • Height and weight increase
      • Body hair grows in the pubic area, under his arms, and on his face, and becomes thicker on his legs
      • Muscles become stronger
      • Vocal cords get thicker and longer and his voice deepens
      • Sweat and oil glands become more active and his body odor changes
      • Acne (pimples) may develop
      • Testes, scrotum, and penis mature and become ready for reproduction, making it possible for him to get a girl pregnant

      The physical changes girls experience during puberty include:

          • Height and weight increase
          • Body hair grows in the pubic area and under her arms
          • Body hair on the legs and arms grows
          • Breasts start to develop; nipples become raised and this area may be tender
          • Waist and hip development also begins, making her body a little rounder
          • Sweat and oil glands become more active and her body odor changes
          • Voice changes from a girl's to a women's
          • Acne (pimples) may develop
          • Ovaries become active, causing hormone production to begin
          • Ovulation (the monthly release of an egg) and menstruation (periods) begin, making it possible for her to get pregnant

          Reproduction 

          All living things reproduce. Reproduction is the process by which organisms create more organisms like themselves. It is one of the factors that sets living things apart from nonliving things. Although the reproductive system is not essential to keeping an individual alive, both the male and female reproductive systems are essential for procreation. Understanding the systems, what they do, and the problems that can affect them, can help you better understand your child’s reproductive health.

          Male Reproductive System

          Male Anatomy

          Male Anatomy

          Interactive Male Reproductive System

           Click here for a fully interactive diagram of the male reproductive system. Must have Flash player installed. 

          Female Reproductive System

          Female Anatomy

          Female Anatomy

          Interactive Female Reproductive System

           Click here for a fully interactive diagram of the female reproductive system. Must have Flash player installed.

           

          Brain Development

          Although your teen is beginning to look more like an adult, it’s important to remember that his/her brain is still developing. According to research, the human brain does not fully mature until the mid 20’s. This suggests that in teens, the parts of the brain involved in emotional response.

          Teens are fully developed, whereas the parts of the brain involved in controlling certain responses are still maturing. One of the last areas to develop is the prefrontal cortex. This  part of the brain is responsible for processing information, making judgments, controlling impulses, and anticipating consequences. 

           It is important to remember that there are many changes taking place during the adolescent years. Teens may act on impulse without regard for risk. Young teens may be able to think more like adults, but they still lack the experience that is needed to behave like adults. 

          Sources:

          The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction

          A Parent’s Guide to the Teen Brain

          Mental/Physical Health 

          The mental changes that take place during the adolescent years may not be as easy to see, but they can be just as remarkable as the physical changes. During this time, teens change in the way they think, reason, and learn. They become better equipped to think through problems and consider the consequences of their actions. Theses cognitive changes enable teens to learn more advanced and complicated material in school. They eagerly apply learned knowledge to problem solving and explore different ideas or options. The mental changes they experience also carry over to their emotional lives. Since they have the ability to reason, teens may change the way they interact with their parents, guardians, or other trusted adults. They are able to anticipate how conversations may go and can prepare their response or explanation ahead of time.

          The teen years are extremely stressful. Stressors can include:

          • family problems
          • trouble in school
          • demanding schedules
          • high expectations
          • illness
          • overachieving
          • friends
          • lack of sleep. 

          Too much stress can cause a teen to experience: 

          • headaches
          • stomachaches
          • eating and sleeping disorders
          • forgetfulness
          • falling grades
          • sadness
          • impatience
          • frustration
          • problems concentrating 

          Helping your teen cope with stress in a healthy manner is important to their overall well-being. Encourage your teen to talk about what may be bothering them so that you can address issues as they come up. Make sure they find time to relax and participate in activities they enjoy, like reading or listening to music. In addition, a proper diet and plenty of water along with ample exercise can keep their body healthy and prepared to the deal with stress.

          Although mood swings and stress are typical during adolescence, some teens may exhibit signs of a diagnosable mental disorder, such as depression. Spending quality time with your teen allows you to observe any changes in behavior, for example withdrawal, loss of interest in activities that are normally enjoyed, or acting out. If you suspect that your teen may be suffering, seek help. Mental health professionals, school counselors, clergy, and community resources are available in most communities, even if you don’t have insurance.