Usually between the ages of 8 and 18 years old, your body starts growing and changing. These changes occur from head to toe, and are completely natural as your body responds to increased hormones. In girls, the main hormone guiding the body's new instructions is called estrogen. In guys, it's testosterone. All of these changes together are called puberty.
Puberty is the bridge between being a kid and becoming an adult. As you cross this bridge, your body and your feelings change a lot. You also may feel differently about your family, friends and classmates, and view the things that they do in whole new ways. You may feel like changing what you do with them, the way you dress and the things you talk about. These differences are called "social" and "behavioral" changes.
There is no exact age when everyone experiences puberty. This differs from person to person. Girls can expect puberty to hit between the ages of 8 and 17. Boys can expect puberty between the ages of 10 and 18.
What's going on with my body?
This is a very confusing time for all teenagers. Expect to feel weird; it’s normal! There are many changes that occur. Some of these changes occur in both boys and girls. Others occur based on which sex you are. Both sexes will:
- Begin to gain weight
- Grow taller
- Grow more body hair
- Speak with a deeper/stronger voice
- Maybe even develop acne (pimples/zits)
Why do I feel like this?
Along with the many physical changes your body will go through, you will also experience many emotional changes. Most of these emotional changes are a result of all the physical changes and trying to adjust. You will experience:
- Moodiness due to changes in estrogen and testosterone.
- Concerns about how your body looks
- Worry about how other people look and how they compare to you
- Feeling awkward or embarrassed, especially in times of change
- Sexual curiosity and attraction, which will come more frequently than ever before
- A yearn for more independence from your parents
Puberty can be one of the toughest parts of life. With the help and support of relatives and friends, you can sail through it, though. It helps to remember that you are not the only one going through this, that everyone goes through puberty. Here are some additional tips to help:
- Ask lots of questions. It is nice to know how and what your body is doing, how it will affect your life and how to keep it all in perspective.
- Respect your body. Smoking, using drugs and drinking alcohol are not respectful of your body, and in fact they are rather harmful. Eat nutritious foods. Get plenty of exercise. Wait for sex until you are ready!
- Accept your body. It is a work in progress. Remember that everyone goes through it, but that you are an INDIVIDUAL! Try not to compare yourself to anyone else.
- If you feel sad, bad or totally weird, talk to somebody! Believe it or not, you already know someone you can talk to about your personal feelings and the changes you are going through. Don't suffer in silence. Start practicing communication now!
- Give your parents a chance. They can really give you a lot of support and information if you let them in!
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