Would you make a young child feel insecure about having a runny nose in the winter, for having gas pains, or for having a case of acid reflux?  You most likely answered no to this question.  In fact, you may even offer this child a tissue, a warm press, Tums, and affection because, as we know, children depend on adults to give care and support.  So the question is, why don’t we do the same exact thing when these children are going through puberty?

Puberty is a time where the body is undergoing significant hormonal, emotional, and physical changes as the body becomes sexually mature.  As we know from the media and real life, it is a stressful and very awkward time.  Adolescents cannot be expected to know what they are about to endure, so there needs to be an open conversation about puberty.  Here are some of the changes (note that they are not in listed in the order in which they occur.)

 

Puberty of Males Males/Females Puberty of Females
Broadening of shoulders Acne Breast budding
First ejaculation Increased sweat gland activity Broadening of hips
Increased muscle to fat ratio Pubic hair growth Increased fat to muscle ratio
Facial hair growth Growth Spurt First menstration
Voice changes Underarm hair growth
Growth of testicles, scrotal sac, and penis

 

Talking about puberty and sex is not the norm in American society.  Puberty is not seen as a normal bodily function which causes confusion for adolescents.  The media encourages sexual maturity making puberty necessary, but the subject is still difficult to bring up in health class, with adults, and with peers.  If we can openly talk about an upset stomach, we should be able to talk about menstrual cramps, and if we can say the word “nostril” we should be able to say the word “penis” without blushing.  We need to make sure that we are doing what is in the best interest of our youth, and providing them with accurate information about their own anatomy and bodily processes is essential for the rest of their life.  After all, this is puberty not taboo.