Healthy Chats for Boys

Our program also includes a Healthy Chats for Boys seminar in the same format as the girls seminar.

Dr. Christopher Miller, founder and director of The Boys Institute for Growth, has been part of our team since 2010. He has a special interest in boy issues, being himself one of three boys and the proud father of Joshua.

To request a Healthy Chats for Boys seminar please send your request and we’ll be happy to set you up with Dr. Miller!

Puberty in Boys:
A Helpful Healthy Chats Q&A…for Parents*

* Grandparents & Guardians too!

Q: When do boys start puberty?

A: As a general rule, boys start puberty a bit later than girls. Expect changes to start happening at 11 or 12 years of age. At the same time they take longer to complete their changes. Many boys continue to grow way into their late teens.

Q: What are some of the first physical changes associated with puberty and boys?

A: Many of the same changes that happen in girls also happen in boys. Here is a chronological order of some of the major changes that you will observe in your pre-teen boy:

  • Growth Spurt – You will notice that your child’s feet, arms, and legs grow faster than the rest of his body. They become gangly and somewhat clumsy as they adapt to their new body space. Boys’ shoulders get wider as they develop more muscles and their height increases.
  • Body Hair – Your son will notice that hair grows under his arms, on his legs and pubic area. Hair also begins to grown on their face, usually above the lip and then the rest of his facial hair fills in over the course of several years.
  • Deeper Voice – At times, this change in voice can happen gradually over the course of months, with the voice cracking at the most unexpected times.
  • Body Odor – Boys will begin to sweat under their arms and need deodorant sooner rather than later.
  • Oily Hair and Skin – Boys are very prone to acne during the pubescent years. The increased amount of oil under their skin is responsible for this.
Q: Who should speak with the pre-teen boy, the mother or the father?

A: There is no rule about only mom speaking with girls and only dads speaking with boys. Of course, moms will be more comfortable addressing menstruation with their daughters instead of dads. But also mothers tend to be good communicators and usually start these conversations early on. As the pre-teen boy gets older, it is always best for the dad/step dad or other male adult in the family to take the lead and share facts, reassuring your pre-teen that these changes are all normal and healthy.

Q: Should I talk to my son about puberty or should I wait until he brings up the topic?

A: I highly recommend that you don’t wait until your son brings up the topic. This may never happen. And the longer you wait, the more likely you will hear, “Oh yeah, I know all about that already.”

You should take some time to review the basic changes associated with puberty and start the conversation. Here are some techniques that might help:

  • Spend some time with your pre-teen boy doing something physical. This can be hiking, bicycling, playing a sport, etc.
  • Bring up the conversation by speaking about your own memories of growing up.
  • Having a conversation while in the car is a good way to keep them present without having to make eye contact.
  • Listen twice as much as you talk.
  • Have a book to share.
  • Know whether your school will be offering a health education class and its content.
  • Encourage your son to come to you in the future with questions/concerns.
  • Remember that this is not a one-time conversation. It should be an ongoing one.
Q: What are some of the other changes that boys will go through?

A: The biggest change that happens in boys occurs in their genitals. The first changes are associated with the growth of their testicles. The testicles will drop further in the scrotum and, at some point in time, will start to produce sperm.

Their penis will also grow in size and they will experience more frequent erections. With an erection, a boy may also have an ejaculation. During ejaculation, the body releases semen, a whitish sticky fluid that contains sperm and other fluids.

Q: What are wet dreams?

A: Wet dreams or nocturnal emissions occur when the body releases the excess amount of sperm/semen built up in the boy’s body. These ejaculations usually occur at nighttime during sleep. A young teen may think that they have urinated in their bed but it is really an ejaculation, also known as a wet dream. Some boys have them and some boys don’t. Either way it is normal.

Q: What other changes should I expect to see?

A: Even though boys tend to enjoy the changes associated with puberty they can still become grumpy and argumentative during this period of time. These emotional ups and downs, sometimes range from being exceedingly silly to becoming completely bumped out of proportion are due to the hormonal changes and the body trying to “get it right” as it changes into its adult form.

Q: Why does my 10-year-old think he knows more than both his parents?

A: Pre-teens are notorious for seeing things only from their perspective, which is usually black or white. Their brains are also growing, and in fact, don’t reach anywhere near maturity until their mid twenties. A teen’s sense of being invincible and carefree put them at great risk for accidents and poor choices with their behavior. In addition to this, the male hormone, known as testosterone, increases during these years and is responsible for many of the physical and emotional changes associated with puberty.

Q: My son is not circumcised and he wants to know what that means. How do I explain circumcision to my son?

A: You may want to have the following conversation.

“Circumcision is a choice that parents make when they have a baby boy. During circumcision, the loose skin surrounding the tip of the penis is removed. Many parents decide to circumcise their boys for personal or religious reasons, while others decide not to. We chose not to.”

You may also want to add: “Whether or not you are circumcised has no effect on how well your penis works. You just have to pay a bit more attention to keeping your penis clean.”

Q: My son is very worried about his height. How can I tell how tall he is going to be?

A: As a general rule, tall parents make tall kids, and short parents tend to have kids that are their height. If you asked your pediatrician, or health provider, they may be able to plot your son’s height on a growth chart and tell approximately how tall he’ll be.

Take the opportunity to remind your child that his height is a physical characteristic that he was born with and that it will be exactly the right for him. On the other hand, also explain that his behavior based on your family’s principles and values is more important than his height.

Bibliography: Books for Boys

Puberty in Boys. Normal Body Changes in Preteens 
by Chrystal de Freitas, M.D.
 (published by Health Infonet, Inc.)
 
This basic booklet addresses the changes associated with puberty and offers a review of what happens in boys.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! A “What’s Happening to My Body?” book for Younger Boys 
by Lynda Madaras. 
This is a very nice, easy to read beginner book written by a well-known health educator. It is truly a good first book for younger boys before they enter puberty and covers all the changes associated with puberty, yet does not include conception and sex.

My Body, My Self for Boys 
by Lynda Madaras & Area Madaras. Written by the same author as the book above, this one is a fun and fact-filled
 guide for preteens and teens. It includes lots of interesting activities and for parents, teachers, and preteens.

Puberty Boy
 by Geoff Price
. This is a photographic book, quite different from what’s available in the US. This book was written by Mr. Price who runs the Pathways to Manhood camps for boys and their fathers in Australia. This very well done book is beautifully photographed, easy to read, and relates to how other boys experience puberty.

What’s Going on Down There? 
Answers to Questions Boys Find Hard to Ask by Karen Gravelle. 
This easy to read book includes all the changes associated with puberty including sex, homosexuality, contraception, and STDs.