In the early teenage years, there are a lot of changes: physical, emotional and social. During this time, teenage bodies, emotions, and identities change in different ways at different times.
For boys, physical changes usually start around 11-12 years – but any time between 9 and 14 years is normal. Physical changes include the growth of the penis and testes (testicles), changes in body shape and height, erections with ejaculation, the growth of pubic, body and facial hair and voice changes.
For girls, physical changes sometimes start happening as young as 8 years, or you might see these changes only now, as your child enters the teenage years. Physical changes in puberty include breast development, changes in body shape and height, the growth of pubic and body hair and the start of periods.
Your child’s moods might be unpredictable, and these emotional ups and downs can lead to increased conflict. This is partly because your child’s brain is still learning how to control and express emotions in a grown-up way. As your child moves through puberty, these emotional mood swings will begin to settle.
Your child is likely to be more self-conscious as he moves through the teenage years, especially about his physical appearance. Adolescent self-esteem is often affected by appearance, or by how teenagers think they look. As your child develops, he might compare his body with those of his friends and peers.
Your child might go through a stage of acting without thinking. Your child’s decision-making skills are still developing, and he is still learning that actions have consequences and even risks sometimes.
Young people are busy working out who they are and where they fit into the world. So, you might notice that your child is searching for an identity. Seeking more independence is common. Your child might want more responsibility too, both at home and at school.
Your child might be more likely to look for new experiences, even risky ones. At the same time, he is likely to be thinking more about right and wrong. Your words and actions still shape your child’s sense of right and wrong. But as your child moves towards adulthood, he will have a stronger sense of his own personal values and morals.
Your child might also be starting to explore his sexual identity and sexuality. This might include romantic relationships or go out with someone special. These are not necessarily intimate relationships, though.
The internet, mobile phones, and social media can significantly influence how your child communicates with his peers and how he learns about the world.
Your child’s relationships with family and peers will go through big changes and shifts. But maintaining strong relationships with both family and friends is important for his healthy social and emotional development.
You might notice that your child wants to spend less time with family and more time with his friends and peers. There might be more arguments with you. Some conflict is normal because teenagers are seeking more independence. It actually shows that your child is maturing.