It is a common knowledge that all the living things on earth undergo growth and development processes until they reach maturity. All of us have also witnessed someone grow, either our siblings or someone out there. Fortunately, we can also attest to these changes if only we reminded ourselves how we looked like back at the elementary school and high school. Comparing your recent photos with those taken around five years ago, you will not fail to notice the physical changes in appearance as well as increased height and weight. Belsky (2007, p.238) asserts that this process of development, where the body transforms from childhood to adulthood with the capability to sexually reproduce and enable fertilization, is referred to as puberty. This essay will discuss the issue on puberty and the stages that young people go through while advancing to adulthood.
According to Hayward (2003, p.1), the puberty process originates from the brain, which is signaled by some hormones, to the gonads (ovaries and testes). This process produces more hormones that stimulate libido, transforms the brain, as well as the entire body. For girls, puberty starts as early as 10 or 11 years of age and end when they attain the age of between 15 to 17 years. On the other hand, boys commence their puberty stage at the age of either 11 or 12 years and complete this stage by the time they get to the age of either 16 or 17 years. As such, girls are seen to mature and develop at a faster rate as compared to the other party. Nonetheless, these processes have altered over time due to the changes in the environment and the kind of nutrition used because girls used to reach their puberty at the age of 15 and 16 for boys. In girls, the onset of the menstruation period (occur between the age of 12 and 13) marked their beginning of puberty. Consequently, the first experience of ejaculating landmarked the beginning of puberty in boys (occur roughly at the age of 13). In case puberty commences before the anticipated time, it is referred to as precocious puberty while that which occur at a much later stage is called delayed puberty.
Girls who experience delayed puberty respond positively in life than those who have the precocious poverty because early puberty tend to affect them psychologically as they are embarrassed by their body image. These girls end up having low self-esteem and are more depressed as boys tend to tease them about their visible breasts and bodies that have gained weight (Thurston, 2014, p.258-259). On the other hand, boys who experience precocious puberty respond more positively to adulthood and life than those with delayed puberty as exhibited by their leadership qualities in high school and success in life. As much as they are aggressive, law-breakers and troublesome at school and home, these boys gain popularity among their peers, and this boosts their self-esteem. Moreover, the positive perceptions created in these boys because of their physical appearance in terms of tall height, the masculine physique, and athletic bodies, give them more confidence in whatever they do.
Puberty denotes the physical developments to sexual maturation that involve morphological developments of a child in terms of size or composition, to adulthood. As the hormones flood the body, the brain is affected, and this makes the individuals more emotional and the tendency to take risks (Belsky, p.241). Scientist divided the physical changes of teenagers into primary and secondary sexual characteristics as well as according to growth spurt merits. The primary sexual characteristics involve reproductive developments like the growth of penis and menstruation. The secondary sexual characteristics involve all other developments in the body accompanying puberty including growth of pubic hair, change in voice as well as in the texture of the skin. The growth spurt in puberty leads to a tremendous increase in height and weight of the teenagers.
According to “Encyclopedia of Children’s Health,” puberty has been divided into five Sexual Maturity Rating (SMR) stages based on the several physical feature of the development. These stages are also known as ‘Tanner Stages’, and they are essential when determining whether the changes in these teenagers is as anticipated. For that reason, this essay will discuss the stages that both girls and boys undergo.
The puberty stages in boys
Stage 1: this stage occurs between the age of 9 and 12 years in boys where no much physical changes are visible, except a little growth spurt that is only beginning at this time. However, many other developments are taking place in the body of the boy as the male hormones are stimulated more actively.
Stage 2: at the ages of 9 to 15, the height of the boy escalates as well as broadening of his body due to the increased muscle tissue and fat development. The dark skin around the nipples enlarges in size and becomes darker while the testicles and scrotum grows. In spite of almost zero growth in penis size, there are some bits of pubic hair that could be seen growing around the base of the penis.
Stage 3: this stage takes place at around the ages of 11 and 16 years where the penis begins to increase its size in terms of the length rather than in width. The pubic hair also continues to spread, as it gets darker and thicker. Other features include: an increase in their height; more mature facial look; broadening of the shoulders that makes their hips look smaller; as well as a general increase in their muscle tissue. The underarm, upper lip, and sideburn hairs begin to show as their voice deepens with time (Belsky, p.242).
Stage 4: At the ages of 11 to 17 years, the testicles, and scrotum progress, their growth as the penis increases in width with a more adult-looking texture is evident. More hair develops on the face, underarm and the anus as the skin becomes oilier.
Step 5: at approximately 14 to 18 years of age, the teenager reaches their full adult height with hairs and genital that resembles that of an adult man. As such, it becomes necessary to shave and need to be more cautious as they are more sexually active. Some may still grow in height past this stage and progress into their 20s.
The puberty stages in girls
Stage 1: it ranges between the age of 8 to 11 years where the ovaries grow, and stimulation of hormones begins in their bodies. There are limited secondary sexual characteristics that are visible at this stage.
Stage 2: the stage occurs between the approximate age of 8 and 14 years where the first secondary sexual characteristic visible is the emerging breasts. As breast buds develop, the nipples become soft and elevated while the dark skin around this area enlarges. Some pubic hairs are evident (Belsky, p.242). At this stage, the girl gains more weight, their height increases while the general body becomes rounder and curvier.
Stage 3: the stage takes place between the approximate ages of 9 to 15 years. There is a continued increase in breast growth, thicker pubic hair and discharge of a thick virginal fluid that is white in color is observed. It is at this stage that some girls start experiencing menstruation to mark the puberty phase.
Stage 4: at the ages of 10 to 16 years, the region around the nipple becomes darker and starts to rise above the rest of the breast as some develop a triangular growth of the pubic hair. Menstruation is more pronounced at this stage as ovulation also commences, although not at regular intervals.
Stage 5: This is the final stage of puberty and ranges between the ages of 12 to 19 years. Here, the girl is a complete young woman of full height, regular ovulation, thick pubic hair, curvy and breasts that have attained full development.
Puberty is a period that is quite stressful, both physically and emotionally, and could be disastrous for the teenagers who were not given proper guidance. As such, parents should equip their children with information about the changes they are to experience in future while they are still at the age of 7 or 8 years. Providing reading materials on puberty to children and giving them room for any questions they may have, is a way of dealing with any awkwardness between the parent and the children.
Encyclopedia of Children’s Health. (n.d.). Puberty – stages, average, Definition, Description, Common problems. Retrieved from HYPERLINK “http://www.healthofchildren.com/P/Puberty.html” http://www.healthofchildren.com/P/Puberty.html
Belsky, J. (2007). Experiencing the Lifespan. (Third Ed.). New York, NY 10010: Worth Publishers.
Hayward, C. (Ed.). (2003). Gender differences at puberty. Cambridge University Press.
Thurston, C. (Ed.). (2014). Essential Nursing Care for Children and Young People: Theory, Policy, and Practice. Routledge.