When Does Puberty Start For Boys?
How much education do our adolescent sons receive about their changing body during puberty?
The answer seems like it is less than what our daughters receive. This could be due to the fact that girls have very obvious outward signs of puberty, like the onset of menses. But I think there is another factor at play here, too, about how we educate our sons about boys in puberty.
Most don’t realize that boys enter puberty about a year later than girls. Schools typically offer a lesson on puberty at the end
of the 5th grade. This is a good time for young girls because, by 6th grade, most girls have begun to notice changes in their body and some girls have even started their first period.
A 5th-grade lesson is a little early for boys though. You can only image the response of 5th-grade boys to the details offered in the school lesson. It can best be described as “shock and awe!”
Better Timing for Boys in Puberty
About 8 Years Old
As early as 8 years old, your son has probably entered early puberty but there won’t be any obvious signs for a couple of years. One of the first signs this has happened will be a change in his body odor. This is a great time to start teaching him about his own body and the changes that are coming. He will want to learn this information from you, but you only have a small window to accomplish this. As he enters middle school, he is likely to be less willing to let you teach him.
About 11 Years Old
By the time your son enters middle school, it is time for him to learn about hormones and where sperm come from. He should also be taught that semen is a mixture of sperm and fluid, and that semen is the fluid that comes out of his penis during an ejaculation. Nocturnal emissions (wet dreams) are common in middle school age boys. It is best if they are not surprised by these normal experiences during puberty. Illustration from the book, I’m a Boy, Hormones!
About 13 Years Old
During middle school, I suggest that you teach your son some basic information about girl anatomy. This illustration is useful and lets you teach reproduction, how the egg meets the sperm, without getting into a larger discussion about sex. Illustration from the book, I’m a Boy, Hormones!
Resources to Help
I have written two books about puberty for boys that are helpful. They are written so your son can learn them on their own or with your help.
- I’m a Boy, My Changing Body (ages 8-10). This is the first of two books that describes the changes a young boy experiences during early puberty including a change in his body odor.
- I’m a Boy, Hormones! (ages 11+). This book focuses on the importance of hormones and the formation of an ejaculate. The content is written for boys who have already experienced the changes of early puberty and want to know what to expect next. It includes information about wet dreams, spontaneous erections and other changes due to hormones.
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