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Male puberty starts around age 11 and lasts until age 17. The physical and emotional changes of puberty are related to the body's increase of the hormone testosterone.

Emerging from this transitional time with a positive self image is made easier with parental understanding and support. One way parents can support a son through puberty is by tuning in to how he feels about his changing body and how he is reacting to these changes. Moodiness, for example, is a normal reaction. It is only abnormal it if doesn't go away in a few weeks or becomes worse.

During this time, a male undergoes tremendous physical changes. These changes may occur quickly and an adolescent may feel uncomfortable with his body and its adequacy. Profound physical changes aside, he also is coming to terms with his sexual development and the emotions that go with it, all measured against that of his peers. One of an adolescent's major concerns at this time is fear of not keeping pace with his friends. This can be an especially trying time for those who develop later or earlier than their classmates.

Puberty also is a period of enormous intellectual growth, a time during which adolescents experience new insights and the ability to understand more complex matters. It is natural for all adolescents to move away from the family and toward the peer group in order to establish independence and learn how to relate to same-aged young men and women. This pull away from the family can cause parents unpleasant emotions as well, including feeling left out and unappreciated.

For children and parents, puberty marks the end of childhood and the beginning of the next phase of life. Puberty can be a time for adolescents to experience this on a more adult level and to develop important, lifelong skills.

Information supplied by Waukesha Memorial Hospital.

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