How to Help Your Son Through Puberty

Simple Tips That Every Parent Should Know

At some point during the tween years, a boy will begin to experience the early stages of puberty. It's an often complicated time during which a boy can feel elated, confused, and embarrassed all at the same time.

While parents are often the last people a boy will want to turn to for advice, that shouldn't stop you from participating in a caring and productive way. Here are three tips that may help:

How to Respond to Puberty

Boy flexing muscle
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Generally speaking, boys will begin puberty between the ages of nine and 14. This can be an especially difficult time for those who start late and have to watch their peers develop muscles and deeper voices and grow facial or body hair often years before they do.

The best way to help your child through this stage is not to make a particular fuss about it. Avoid teasing of any sort as this may add to the ribbing your son may already be receiving at school.

This doesn't mean that you ignore the changes or pretend like they're not happening. Rather, it's important to step forward if you sense your son is experiencing any discomfort of any sort and to answer questions that he might otherwise be reluctant to ask.

If your child is experiencing delayed puberty, reassure him that he will eventually catch up. By contrast, if he's an early bloomer or in the throes of a cracking voice, accentuate the positive and introduce him to things like shaving or other rituals of approaching manhood.

The more you treat puberty as a normal, healthy experience, the more you will be able to relieve some of the stress associated with these changes.

How to Deal With Hygiene and Body Odor

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One of the first signs of puberty is a change in body odor. During this period, a boy will go through a process known as adrenarche in which the adrenal glands will become more active, leading to oily skin and acne. Adrenarche is also characterized by increased perspiration, especially in the armpits and groin, as the apocrine glands start to mature.

Boys undergoing puberty are not inherently stinky. Rather, they've simply been caught off guard as bacteria begin to proliferate in parts of their bodies that were once relatively moisture-free.

As a parent, you can help your son by:

  • Introducing him to antiperspirant or deodorant
  • Replacing a face cloth and bar soap with a nylon body scrubber and body wash
  • Having him pay extra attention to the underarms and groin
  • Ensuring that he changes his underwear and T-shirts daily
  • Giving him cotton or other natural-fiber underwear that are more absorbent

How to Deal With Wet Dreams

Father talking seriously to teenage son (11-13), sitting on couch
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Wet dreams and erections. These are three words that every boy dreads hearing from his parents. But, ultimately, both are a natural part of puberty and something you can either choose to ignore or deal with in a healthy fashion.

Contrary to what some may believe, wet dreams (also known as nocturnal emissions) can occur well before pubic hairs emerge. They are simply your son's body's response to the sudden and profound increase in testosterone levels.

This can cause boys to experience sudden and frequent sexual desires along with regular and sometimes spontaneous erections. With the testicles now able to produce sperm, wet dreams are a totally normal response to these changes, as is the desire to masturbate, sometimes frequently.

The last thing you will want to do as a parent is to show disapproval or ridicule these experiences in any way. Instead, take the opportunity to sit with your son and explain what these changes mean. Don't press him on the issue, but, instead, leave the door open so that he can come back to you for advice if needed.

It would also be an added kindness to give your son an extra set of bed linens so that he can discreetly change the sheets if they ever become soiled.