Growth Spurts cause many changes in teenagers that are visible to the eye, especially the rapid height increase that can occur over the course of a single year. During puberty, your teen will notice changes in their sexual reproductive system, height, weight and emotional maturity.
In this article, we will be exploring some of the most common symptoms of teenage growth spurts, including when they take place and what you as a parent can do to help your child during this challenging period of their life.
Why do Growth Spurts Happen?
As children begin to develop into adults, they go through a variety of physical and emotional changes during puberty. For these changes to begin to happen the body releases two hormones – estrogen (for girls) and testosterone (for boys). These are the major hormones involved in the process of puberty and result in many changes including the development of the secondary sexual characteristics and the reproductive organs.
In addition, another biological change that influences the onset of changes during puberty is the simultaneous deliverance of growth hormones, androgens, and thyroid hormones. Androgens are a steroid produced by your body’s sexual organs like the ovaries and testes, which are responsible for the production of sperm. These steroids do play a larger role in male changes during puberty and are the main source for stimulating the development of their sex organs and changes like growing a beard and a deepening of their voices. While the main hormone behind female development is estrogen.
Signs Of Growth Spurts In Teenagers:
If you are well-aware of the major signs and symptoms of puberty in your teen, you will likely be able to help guide them through the process. Obviously, the observations will differ between the sexes, but there is still a strong link for both between growth and puberty.
With that said, here are some of the most common signs to look out for:
1. Clothes Getting Smaller
As a result of growth spurts, you may notice your child quickly outgrowing their clothes. This doesn’t just include growth in terms of height, but also substantial changes in muscle and tissue mass.
On average girls will enter puberty ahead of boys, usually beginning between the ages of 8 and 13. The first physical change girls will notice is an increase of their breast size; this is due to the production of estrogen, a hormone, which starts the process of developing the teenagers’ secondary sexual characteristics. These are the changes observed that are not directly related to the reproductive system.
The first physical change boys will experience is an enlargement of testicles, this is promoted by the increase of Testosterone. This also leads to substantial changes in tissue growth, in particular, size and mass of the muscles.
2. Increase in Height
Around the same time as breast development will begin to occur girls will experience an increase in their height, also a result of the increased estrogen production. Boys can also experience changes from puberty at a later age compared to females, sometimes even growing in height until age 16 while muscles continue to develop after their bone growth has halted.
The actual growth increase varies from teenage to teenager based off of genetics, predetermined conditions like a growth disorder or nutrition and is relatively close between girls and boys. On average girls can experience a growth rate of 8 cm per year while boys up to 9 cm annually!
3. Facial & Body Hair
After the changes of the breast tissue girls will begin to see the growth of pubic hair which on average will start 6 to 12 months subsequently, around the ages of 9 and 10. Other physical changes like hair growth on the armpits usually start developing around the age of 12. This timeline is significantly different for boys as puberty starts later, between the ages of 9 and 14.
Pubic hair also tends to show up later in males, around the ages of 13-14. At around 15, on average boys will go through changes in hair growth; both facial and armpit.
4. Voice Changes
This is perhaps one of the most noticeable signs that your boy is going through puberty, although vocal changes do occur in females, but tend to be less noticeable. His voice will go from high pitched to low, while females voice also mature, but the changes are not usually noticed to the extent a males vocals are.
5. Body Odour
Another tell-tale sign is the presence of body odor, which is a very distinctive smell not found in children. If you do smell body odor, then this could very well be a sign that your teen is having a growth spurt. The body odor occurs at this age due to sweat and oil glands becoming active – if so, it might be time to up the personal hygiene routine.
What Happens When Your Teenager has a Growth Spurt?
During these challenging years, growth spurts and the physical changes associated with puberty can be quite embarrassing for them. Not is it emotionally challenging as a result, but these fast changes can also pose a risk in terms of physical injury too.
- As your child grows during a growth spurt, not everything grows at an equal rate. This means while their bones may grow, their muscles and tendons may take some time to catch up. This can make them feel tight and not be as effective as they usually are at performing their role.
- As a result of this disparity between the bone and muscle/tendon growth, it can become challenging for the muscles to support the limbs, resulting in coordination issues and injury.
- During this period, it’s essential that you prepare for your child to report growing pains. The best way to support your child during this time is heat therapy – a hot bath is great.
- Physical exercise is also incredibly helpful at this time as it can help build muscles and make injury less likely.
How will a Growth Spurt Impact Your Teen?
During this period of immense physical change, you will likely have to keep spending money on larger sized clothing and other essentials associated with puberty. In addition, there are a number of other changes you should expect to notice since this will better prepare you and with better understanding, you can help them on their way to adulthood.
1. Coordination Issues
As not all body parts and limbs will grow at the same rate as other parts of the body and tissues, it is extremely likely that your child will have issues with their coordination and balance. This is only temporary, but something worth noting if you ever get worried about any sudden awkwardness.
2. Longer Periods of Sleep
During puberty, your child will require much more rest since sleep is a key time for the body to heal and regenerate cells. In addition, during growth spurts, teens release hormones such as growth hormones during sleep, so if you notice them sleeping longer don’t be too concerned.
3. Teens May Become Distant
By now you’ve probably experienced moody teenagers, but there’s actually evidence that teens can become distant with regards to their parents, especially parents of the opposite sex. This is completely normal, so if you experience this don’t be too concerned.
How can I help my Teenager through These Changes?
During the teenage years, it can be difficult for parents to know exactly how to proceed. It’s likely that your child will be going through a variety of trials and tribulations, getting to know themselves and adjusting to the many new experiences they will face. With these thoughts in mind, here are some helpful tips for parents to take on board:
1. Be A Good Role Model
At this age, your teenager will probably be much less willing to talk to you, yet they will be looking at you for guidance more than you think. That’s why it’s important to remember that you are a role model to your child and therefore have a responsibility to reinforce positive traits and behaviors. It can be easy to reinforce unhealthy and negative body image, diets and fads, especially if you find yourself struggling to relate to them. However, always remember your main responsibility is to instill great values that they will benefit from for a lifetime.
2. Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle
At this age of great change, there’s no doubt that teenagers are full of anxiety and stress. As a result, you may assume it’s not a great idea to apply any pressure, yet exercise and a healthy diet can be extremely beneficial at this age. Not only is encouraging exercise going to help lift their mood as it results in the release of endorphins but it can also help them with their self-esteem. By building a fit body, they are going to look better, feel better about themselves and get some control back into this chaotic phase of life.
3. Ensure They Get Enough Sleep
Besides making sure they obtain proper nutrition for their age and size, sleep is one of the most important factors affecting your teens’ growth. This is because our bodies do the most repairing when we are asleep and especially with teens, night time is when their body releases the growth hormones necessary for their proper development. For example, this could mean limiting your teenager’s electronic use to daytime only or by maintaining a relatively consistent sleep schedule.
4. Be Aware of Insecurities
Emotional changes in teens during puberty can be difficult, whether that means attitude and mood swings or feeling self-conscious from the changes they’re experiencing. During puberty, girls tend to gain more weight than males, often in areas around their hips, breasts, and thighs to help with the growth of their sexual organs. The changes can be difficult for girls, especially when women are portrayed to certain standards daily in the media, even leading to the formation of issues with their appearances and body shapes.
These issues don’t just affect girls as they go through growth spurts, boys tend to stress about their height and muscle while feeling pressured to fit in with their peers. Additionally, when boys growth spurts start varies so often times you may find a teenager who is later to develop feeling self-conscious. This is normal, however, and should be kept in mind that everybody changes at a different rate.
If you have concerns regarding you teenager’s development it never hurts to check with a doctor and monitor their growth rate so you can have an idea if there is indeed an issue needing to be addressed.
While it is difficult at times for teenagers you can help them by a constant reassurance that it is normal and educate them about unrealistic media practices. Providing a listening ear can help as these changes can sometimes stress the relationship you have with your child making it even more important your teen know that how they’re feeling is being understood.