Several posts ago I wrote about the effects of early puberty on girls. This post is about the effects of early puberty on boys. I have included some suggestions.
More and more, boys are experiencing early puberty. I have worked with boys as young as nine going through this phase. There are many reasons for this, including better nutrition. Some may be due to health reasons. You should make sure your child sees his doctor to rule out any adverse concerns.
When a boy starts early puberty, he and/or his friends may start to notice changes. These changes may include changes in weight and/or height, acne, the beginnings of hair in areas usually found among teens—such as facial hair, underarm hair, and public hair, changes in mood, erections, wet dreams, and changes in body smell. He may hear his voice getting lower. Your boy may not be aware of all of these changes, but others might. If he’s playing sports or other physical activities, he will be noticed.
Your boy may not be prepared to deal with all of these changes. His “age-mates” may not be at the same level of development and tease him about it. He may respond by being depressed, excitable, withdrawn, and/or aggressive. Girls of his age may respond to him in contradictory ways, feeling uncomfortable as they do so. He may have no idea why those girls are acting like this, or have any idea as to how to deal with it.
Your boy may see his chest and arms getting bigger. So he may feel impelled to “bulk up,” taking cretonne, to appear even bigger. He may want to act more sexual, whether he knows what he’s doing, or doesn’t know it. He may then be sexually inappropriate. This could get him into serious trouble in school. What is important to discuss with him is that he’s too young to do these activities and he is not capable of handling them or their consequences.
What you need to do, after making sure that there are no health issues involved, is to talk to your boy about what’s going on. He should not feel as if he’s different; he should be told that his development is within the normal range for boys and that he should defer any kind of sexual activity. On the flip side, if your boy’s friends are developing earlier than he is, he might feel inadequate and depressed.
If your boy has older or younger siblings, you need to address their reactions to him as well. A sister may feel she needs more privacy as her brother starts to develop. A younger brother may find himself in competition with an older brother.
If you are too embarrassed to talk to your boy about this, have his doctor talk to him or take him to a therapist who counsels boys.