Teen Boys and Common Changes in Adolescence

Jennifer L. Betts
Contributor: Lindsay Woolman
Teenage boy

Growing up is not easy for young people, teen boys as well as girls. The teen years are a time of great physical and emotional changes as boys grow into young men. Learn the different physical and emotional changes that teens experience along with when to worry.

Physical Changes Teen Boys Experience During Adolescence

The physical changes that come with puberty in teen boys start somewhere between the ages of 9 and 16. These changes occur gradually and include:

Hair Growth

Teenage Boy Lying On Plants

Young men grow hair on their face, arms, and legs. The biggest change that you'll notice is the development of pubic hair and armpit hair. The hair on the pubic region will typically happen before the growth of hair under the arms. At this time, boys might also start to notice the first traces of their upper lip hair thickening. New hair growth will start as soft long hair but continue to get coarser over time. Hair growth continues to spread to other parts of the body (abdomen, buttocks) through the teen years.

Voice Changes

Increased testosterone leads to changes in a teen boy's vocal cords. The vocal cords become longer and thicker, which leads to the young man's voice changing. "Cracking" is not unusual during this process, although it is embarrassing.

Oily Skin

During puberty, the skin's oil glands become more active. This is because the testosterone causes the release of sebum in the skin along with increased production of sweat glands. This leads to the development of acne. Trouble with skin breakouts can continue into adulthood.

Sweating and Body Odor

Teen boys will begin to notice increased sweating and body odor, especially under their arms. This is due to testosterone increasing the production of the sweat glands under the arms. Most boys will notice that they will begin to need to wear deodorant and shower more often.

Growth Spurt

Both boys and girls experience a growth spurt during puberty. Testosterone is responsible for a teen boy's body taking on a more angular and muscular shape. A further effect of testosterone is the lengthening of the bones of the arms and legs. According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, boys will grow about 4.1 inches a year.

Changes to Genitals

Both the penis and scrotum increase in size during puberty. You'll notice a change in the size of the scrotum first. Not only will it get bigger, but you might notice some texture or skin changes as well. The penis will begin to lengthen and become larger. Around this time boys might also begin experiencing erections for no reason at all.

Teen Boy Emotional Changes

In addition to physical changes, teen boys go through emotional changes during puberty. They are going through the process of separating from their parents and becoming more independent. During this time, the opinions of friends become more important. Explore different emotional changes for your teen along with when you should worry.

Self-Consciousness

Male Puberty

Boys as well as girls want to be accepted and liked by their peers. They may feel self-conscious at times because of all the changes that are going on in their bodies. No one is "just right"; instead, they are too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, etc. Remember that everyone matures at his or her own rate and that eventually everyone catches up.

Psychological Changes

Boys might start to experience mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and anger during puberty. Hormonal changes are typically to blame for these overly emotional feelings that lead to bouts of crying, screaming and even bursts of aggression.

Relationship Changes

Teen boys are becoming more aware of themselves and independent. During this time, spending time with friends comes to the forefront. Additionally, being seen with parents or siblings might be a source of embarrassment.

Asserting Independence

As teen boys mature, they start to make decisions for themselves. They may indulge in risky behavior, such as drinking, smoking, sexual activity or driving fast. Part of growing up is to challenge one's parents' beliefs as a way of asserting independence.

Sexual Development

This is the time when attraction begins to really bud in teen boys. They may start to express their sexuality and become interested in romantic relationships. Arousal becomes common due to changing emotions and body development.

When Should Parents Worry?

Emotional changes for teens are typically short lived. However, if you start to notice that your child is severely depressed, causing physical harm or taking risks with their life (drinking and driving or taking drugs), this goes beyond just typical teen behavior. In addition to talking to your teen, professional intervention might be necessary.

Advice for Parents of Teen Boys Going Through Adolescence

Parenting during the teen years can become a struggle. The changing swing in emotions and physical changes can be overwhelming. Explore ways to help your child cope:

  • Give your teen boy the opportunity to express himself without interruption.
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage him to share information.
  • Try to put yourself in his shoes and understand his point of view.
  • Help your teen boy to see alternatives when he's trying to make a choice.
  • Allow him to make his own decisions and understand the consequences of his actions.

Advice for Teen Boys Going Through Puberty

Puberty is a time full of new and exciting developments in your body and emotions. However, puberty can come with a lot of new challenges. Learn some tips for coping with puberty:

  • Everyone experiences puberty differently. Remember that your body will change at its own pace.
  • Your feelings are normal. These new experiences might be confusing but talking them out with a parent or friend can be helpful.
  • Your body will change at different rates. Hands and feet might grow faster than your legs or torso. Everything will catch up with time.
  • Your parents experienced puberty too. Asking questions can help sort out feelings or confusion.
  • Frequent bathing and keeping the face clean can help with odor and skin issues.

Teen Boys and Puberty

Teen boys go through a number of changes during puberty, just as teen girls do. Parents need to keep the lines of communication open to provide help and support to their sons as they make the transition from boyhood to adulthood.

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Teen Boys and Common Changes in Adolescence