Puberty is like a Bridge!


What is Puberty?

Puberty is a period of physical and emotional development that begins when a child’s body starts to change into an adult body. This process is different for everyone and can start anytime between the ages of 8 and 13. During puberty, your body will grow faster, you will start to have sexual feelings, and your reproductive organs will develop.

I like to explain puberty to my patients as a life journey that we all go through.  It is like walking over a bridge.  A bridge of life.  On one side of the bridge, you have your child’s body.  On the other side of the bridge, you have your adult body. 

When does Puberty begin?

For girls, the changes associated with puberty begin between ages 9 to 13. Everyone is on their own schedule. Puberty can take approximately 2 to 5 years to complete.

In boys, puberty starts a bit later around 11 – 13, and may not be complete until way later in their teen years.

Where Does Puberty Begin?

Puberty starts in the most important part of your body which is the brain.    The brain starts to release hormones which travel down to the gonads, or sex organs.  For girls, this is the ovaries and for boys, this is the testicles.  These hormones then start a chain of events that cause the child’s body to change into an adult body.

Some of the physical changes that happen during puberty are easy to see.  We notice them on the outside of the body.  These are called the physical changes of puberty.  Other changes are more difficult to see.  They happen on the inside and are called the emotional changes of puberty. 

What are the Changes?

  • Physical Changes

Some of the physical changes that happen during puberty include:

– Growth spurts.  During puberty, you will grow taller and gain weight.  Boys usually start their growth spurt about two years after girls.  By the end of puberty, boys are usually about four inches taller than girls.

– Body shape changes.    During puberty, girls will start to develop breasts and boys will start to develop muscles.  Everyone’s body is different and develops at a different pace.

– Sexual maturity.  Boys’ and girls’ reproductive organs will mature and they will be able to have children.  Girls usually start their period about two years after they first begin to develop breasts.

  • Emotional Changes

Some of the emotional changes that happen during puberty include:

– Mood swings.  You may find yourself feeling happy one minute and angry or sad the next.  This is normal!  Puberty can be a confusing time and your emotions may feel like they are all over the place.

– Self-consciousness.  You may start to feel more self-conscious about your body and the way you look.  This is normal!  Again, puberty can be a confusing time and it is perfectly normal to feel insecure.

– Curiosity about sex.  You may start to notice that you are attracted to other people and have sexual feelings.  This doesn’t happen all at once. 

  • Brain Growth

There is one other very important change that starts during these puberty years and continues way into our adulthood.   This is the change in our brain.  Our brains are growing and making connections during these years which will continue into our twenties!  So, even though it may seem like your teenager is acting crazy sometimes, they are actually going through some very important changes.

I find this part of preteen life the most interesting.  It is also the most difficult to deal with as parents. 

So, how can parents help their children navigate through the challenges of puberty with grace and confidence?  Educate yourself about puberty and what changes are coming ahead.  Get the correct advice from trusted sources that can become part of your village for help. 

If you have any questions or concerns about puberty, please don’t hesitate to comment or e-mail me at:  We can do this!