During the teen years sexual maturation occurs and the reproductive organs of both boys and girls mature. As a result of sexual maturation in girls there is the onset of menstruation and they become capable of bearing child and boys start having nocturnal emission. Other physical changes that take place during adolescence in girls are development of breasts, deposition of fat on the hips, changes in skin texture and growth of hair in armpit and pubic area. In boys during adolescence hair growth occurs on the face, rest of the body, armpit and pubic area. Other physical changes that take place include voice changes and changes in skin texture.
Sex difference in physical development
There are significant differences in the physical development of boys and girls during adolescence.
- Growth spurt starts and ends in girls about 2 years before it does in boys. Hence they reach their adult height and weight approximately two years before boys.
- Height and weight of boys is more than girls after adolescence.
- Girls mature sexually before boys.
- Girls even during childhood have wider hips as compared to boys and this difference becomes more evident in adolescence.
- Boys develop more muscle tissues, thicker as well as larger bones and broader shoulders as compared to girls.
- The strength of boys as compared to girls increases as adolescence proceeds and they remain stronger after that.
Socio-emotional implication of physical development
The physical changes of adolescence cause changes in behavior and attitude. The physical changes are so remarkable and pronounced that the adolescence fell anxious, uncertain, confused due to it and the established pattern of life is disturbed. The effect is more pronounced if the adolescents are not aware or prepared for the bodily changes in advance. Like onset of menstruation in girls or ejaculation of semen in boys can lead them to believe that something is wrong with them.
Socio-emotional effects of physical changes are more pronounced in girls if they occur before the expected age. Early maturing girls, face problems as they look ‘too grown up’ as compared to peers and may be made fun of because of this, the parents also tend to enforce certain restrain and curbs on them. In boys early maturation is socially advantageous because the superior height, weight and strength of early maturing boys give them a sense of prestige in the eyes of peers of both sexes. Besides the physical changes, hormonal changes that occur in adolescence also cause socio-emotional effects. The changes of hormones in the body can cause tension, restlessness, moodiness, withdrawal, irritability, rebellion against authority, assertion of independence, etc.
This makes it important that you talk to your child about the changes that they would be experiencing. You have to stress on the fact that these changes are normal and natural which take place in every individual.
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