Professor James M. Tanner, a child development specialist, was the first to recognize the visible stages of puberty. Now, these stages are recognized as the Tanner stages or, more appropriately, sexual maturity ratings. They help as a comprehensive guide to physical development, although each person has a separate puberty timetable.
Puberty: Learn How You Can Handle the Development Stage In Girls, and Boys
Tanner stage 1 illustrates a child’s character before any physical signs of puberty appear. Toward the end of stage 1, the brain will just start sending signals to the body to prepare for changes.
The hypothalamus starts to release gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). GnRH travels to the pituitary gland, which is the small area beneath the brain that makes hormones that regulate other glands in the body.
The pituitary gland additionally makes two other hormones:
Interestingly, these early signs start after a girl’s 8th birthday and after a boy’s 9th or 10th birthday. However, there aren’t any remarkable physical changes for boys or girls at this stage.
Tanner stage 2
Stage 2 signifies the beginning of physical development. Hormones start to send signals throughout the body.
Puberty normally commences between ages 9 and 11. The first signs of breasts, called “buds,” start to form under the nipple. Mind you, they may be itchy or tender, which is normal.
Additionally, it’s natural for breasts to be different sizes and grow at different rates. So, it’s natural if one bud appears larger than the other. The darker area around the nipple (areola) will also develop.
On normal, black girls start puberty a year before white girls and are ahead when it comes to breast development and having their first periods. Also, girls with greater body mass index encounter an earlier onset of puberty.
In boys, puberty normally starts at approximately age 11. The testicles and skin around the testicles (scrotum) begin to get bigger. Also, the early stages of pubic hair form on the base of the penis.
Physical changes in girls normally begin after age 12.
These changes include:
- Breast “buds” continue to grow and expand.
- Hair starts forming under the armpits.
- Pubic hair gets thicker and curlier.
- The first signs of acne may appear on the face and back.
- The most important growth rate for height begins (around 3.2 inches per year).
- Hips and thighs start to build up fat.
Physical changes in boys normally begin around age 13.
These changes include:
- Penis gets longer as testicles continue to grow bigger.
- Some breast tissue may start to form under the nipples (this happens to some teenage boys during development and usually goes away within a couple of years).
- Boys begin to have wet dreams (ejaculation at night).
- Height growth increases to 2 to 3.2 inches per year.
- As the voice begins to change, it may “crack,” going from high to lower pitches.
- Muscles get larger.
Tanner stage 4
Puberty is in full swing during stage 4. Both boys and girls are noticing many changes.
In girls, stage 4 normally begins around age 13.
- Breasts take on a fuller shape, passing the bud stage.
- Many girls get their first period, typically between the ages of 12 and 14, but it can happen earlier.
- Pubic hair gets thicker.
- Height growth will slow down to about 2 to 3 inches per year.
In boys, stage 4 normally begins around age 14.
- Testicles, penis, and scrotum continue to get bigger, and the scrotum will get darker in color.
- Armpit hair starts to grow.
- Acne may start to appear.
- The deeper voice becomes permanent.
Tanner stage 5
This last phase records the end of your child’s physical maturation.
In girls, stage 5 normally occurs around age 15.
- Periods become regular after six months to two years.
- Girls attain adult height one to two years after their first period.
- Pubic hair fills out to reach the inner thighs.
- Breasts reach estimated adult size and shape, though breasts can continue to change through age 18.
- Reproductive organs and genitals are fully developed.
- Hips, thighs, and buttocks fill out in shape.
In boys, stage 5 normally starts around age 15.
- Penis, testicles, and scrotum will have reached adult size.
- By age 18 most boys have reached full growth.
- Pubic hair has filled in and spread to the inner thighs.
- Facial hair will start coming in and some boys will need to begin shaving.
- Growth in height will slow down, but muscles may still be growing.
Acne can be a difficult thing for both boys and girls. The developing hormones cause oils to build upon the skin and clog pores.
Generally, you can treat acne by cleaning the affected areas regularly with mild soap. And there are also over-the-counter (OTC) creams and ointments to help control breakouts.
For more severe acne, you may think of taking your child to see their pediatrician or a dermatologist. The doctor can prescribe stronger prescription treatments.
More comprehensive sweat glands develop during puberty. To stop body odor, incorporate deodorant in your child’s toiletries, and always make sure they shower frequently, mainly after physical activity.