Puberty is an important period of biological changes that children go through as they move toward becoming adults. These biological changes usually occur earlier in girls than in boys. Puberty not only involves body and emotional changes, it also involves maturation of cognitive and moral development and how children view themselves and others.
Normally there are five stages to puberty within the ages of 8 and 13 for girls and 9 and 14 for boys. But recent research has shown that puberty is occurring at an increasingly earlier age. The first sign of puberty in girls is breast development. This usually begins at approximately 10 years old. Girls develop small lumps or nodules under one or both nipples which are called breast budding.
The development of pubic hair usually develops approximately six months after the development of breasts but in some children pubic hair is actually the first sign of puberty.
Girls usually experience their first period or menarche between 12-13 years of age which occurs about two years after puberty begins. This also coincides with their peak in height velocity. Development continues and the whole process takes between 3-4 years. A child will reach her final adult height approximately two years after menarche.
Boys usually begin puberty at about 12 years old. A boy's first sign of puberty is an increase in the size of his testicles. The growth of pubic hair takes place a few months later. Boys reach their peak growth spurt 2-3 years later than girls. This usually begins by the enlargement of their feet and hands, followed by the growth of their arms, legs, trunk and chest. They also experience other changes such as an increase in muscle mass, a deepening of the voice and the ability to get erections and ejaculate. Some boys also...