The Signs of Puberty in Tween Boys

Teenage boy listening to music on a mobile phone

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At some point during the tween years, a boy will begin to experience the stages of puberty. The relationship between boys and puberty can be complicated for both the child and his parents. Knowing what to look for can ease your mind and help your tween through these enormous physical and emotional changes.

Below are some of the typical signs of puberty in boys. Keep in mind that these stages may appear gradually, and it may take several years for your child to completely cycle through all the phases of puberty. In general, boys begin puberty at some point between the ages of 9 and 14. Girls typically begin puberty between the ages of 8 and 12.

Physical Changes

The physical changes of puberty include the following:

  • Body Hair: Hair growth in the pubic and underarm areas will happen during puberty. Your son may have questions and he may not. Let him take the reins on this one. At some point, he will also begin to grow chest hair and other body hair will become thicker and sometimes darker.
  • Body Odor: As hormones increase, boys will begin to sweat more often and body odor often becomes an issue. He may not notice it himself at first and it's best to be gentle when approaching the subject. Buy him some deodorant and let him know that a daily shower may be in his best interest.
  • Broad Shoulders and Chest Muscles: Often a subtle change, your son's upper body muscles will begin to develop as well. His shoulders will become broader and his chest muscles will be more defined. When both of you notice this change, use the opportunity to encourage him to exercise more often. It's a great excuse to keep him active.
  • Erections and Wet Dreams: It is perfectly normal for boys going through puberty to have involuntary erections and wet dreams. This may be a point of the most embarrassment for your son. Talk to him about it and explain that it is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Also, let him know that he will be able to control it as he gets older.
  • Facial Hair: Those small hairs on your son's upper lip and chin may soon begin to grow longer, thicker and eventually darken. He may even come out of the bathroom one morning and surprise you with a request to buy a razor. Most boys love this change because they view facial hair is a real sign of manhood.
  • Growth Spurts: You may turn around one day and notice that your son is an inch or two taller than the last time you took notice. Though girls in 7th and 8th grades can often tower over boys their age, the boys can quickly catch up in high school and frequent growth spurts are not uncommon.
  • Pimples and Breakouts: Some kids have more of a problem with acne than others, but almost all teenage boys will break out with pimples from time to time. This is because their skin becomes oilier due to increased hormones. Teach him how to wash his skin thoroughly in order to minimize or prevent bad acne.
  • Testicle Growth: Your son's testicles grow larger and one (typically the left) may hang lower than the other as he matures. This is perfectly normal and happens with most boys. Their scrotum skin will also darken, thin and begin to have tiny hair follicle bumps.
  • Voice Change: Although it is more likely in the later stages of puberty, your son's voice will deepen. It is usually after a growth spurt because his voice box has grown as well. At first, his voice may crack and it may cause him some embarrassment.

Emotional Changes

Puberty is a time of great emotional development. Typical emotional changes that occur include the following:

  • Anxiety About the Changes: Anxiety or excitement about the changes he's going through is common. Some of the things that come along with puberty may cause your son to worry and wonder if he's 'normal.' Others, like a mustache and muscles, may make him very happy because they're signs that he's becoming a man.
  • Closed off to Parents: While your son may have told you everything that went on in his day in elementary school, you may find him a little more reserved as he enters puberty. You may hear a lot of "Nothing." when asked what happened at school during dinner and he may hang out in his room more than watch TV with the family. This is normal, but it's still important to try and have regular talks with him or get him to sit down and watch a game together. It's a stage and you want to keep your relationship strong.
  • Mood Changes: Hormones and changes in his brain will cause your son to become moody at times. It is perfectly normal and may get worse as he matures. It's important to let him work through these mood swings and give him space when needed. You should also ask for help if you think there is a more serious problem like depression.
  • Romantic Interest: Your son may develop a crush at school or tell you one day that he has a girlfriend or boyfriend. He may show this new interest by being shy or nervous around certain people and you may catch him flirting from time to time.
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4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.K. National Health Service, "Stages of puberty: what happens to boys and girls"

  2. Kids Health from The Nemours Foundation, "Is It Normal to Get Erections?"

  3. Government of Western Australia, Department of Health, "Puberty – things that change for everyone - Healthy WA"

  4. Department of Health Western Australia, "Puberty – things that change for boys - Healthy WA"