The P-Word

What to expect from puberty – and how to deal with it…

Puberty can be a turbulent time, but it can help to know what to expect.Girls tend to hit puberty before boys between the ages of 8-13. Boys usually develop slightly later, at around 9-14 years old, but not always. It can feel worrying if all your friends have reached puberty and you haven’t, or vice versa, but don’t worry – everyone is different.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common changes in puberty:

Skin Woes

Spots and acne are extremely common during puberty. Hormones cause the oil glands in your skin to become overactive and your pores get blocked, leading to spots. This is because of changes to your skin, not because you are unclean. Thankfully, for most people, spots clear up after puberty.

Top tips – Try an over-the-counter topical gel containing benzoyl peroxide to treat blackheads and minor spots – you can buy this from your local chemist. See your doctor if you have acne as they will be able to prescribe a stronger course of treatment. For more skin tips, click here.

Mood Swings

It’s perfectly common to experience mood swings in puberty but these can feel overwhelming and uncontrollable at times. Girls, especially, suffer mood swings caused by hormones and around the time of their period. You might be feeling especially sensitive about your changing body or teary for no reason at all. Mood swings can be very unpredictable.

Top tips – Some of the changes that happen to your body can make you feel anxious, embarrassed, and upset. It might seem like the last thing you want to do but sharing your concerns with an adult you trust, or an older sibling can really help, especially if you’re feeling extremely worried or upset. Read our 10 Ways To Calm Down to discover coping techniques for when you feel especially anxious or irritable.

Body Changes

Your body goes through incredible changes during puberty. Both boys and girls develop pubic and body hair. Some people will grow a lot and others won’t – everyone is different so don’t worry your best friend has more hair than you. This is perfectly normal.

Girls’ hips will get rounder and their breasts begin to grow. It’s also normal for girls to put on a bit of weight and to grow taller during puberty as they become young women. Boys also get taller and their voices get deeper (‘ breaks’). They also become more muscular, and their penis and testicles get larger.

Top tips – Try not to compare your changing body to your friends or classmates. Remember, everyone is unique and we all develop in our own time. It can help to talk about your body changes with friends for support.

Sexual Feelings

As you grow up, you start to develop sexual feelings. You’ll have your first crush and maybe even your first kiss. During puberty, you begin to explore your own sexuality and your own body. It’s perfectly normal to masturbate in private, and both boys and girls do this. It’s a natural way of exploring pleasurable feelings and learning what makes you feel good.

Top tips – It’s also very normal to feel confused about your sexuality during puberty. Some people know who they are attracted to while it’s not so straightforward for others. Please talk to someone if your confusion around your sexuality is causing you any distress or call Childline on 0800 11 11.


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