How should you talk to your male teen about adolescent changes?

Puberty is a time of dramatic change for teens. Some boys have more rapid physical growth than others, and parents have to understand the changes that their teen is going through. They have to be aware of the insecurity that can come about when their son's rate of development differs from his peers. Parents who know what is expected and normal can be more understanding of their male teen if he exhibits anxiety about his physical development.

When parents are understanding and know what their teen might be feeling, it is easier for them to start a productive discussion on issues like sexual development, which might cause embarrassment. If parents ask relevant questions that focus on specific issues, they just might get a real answer instead of a teenage shrug and silence. Target conversations to focus on issues that might be worrying your teen: his physical development, body image or appearance. Encourage your teen to talk about his concerns; male teens need to be assured that their physical growth rate can be very different from their friends', and still be normal. Awkwardness is very common as body parts grow at different rates, and self-image may be affected. It's important not to criticize or compare; boys are especially affected by self-consciousness if they have peers who are bigger and stronger physically, and whose sexual development is a stage ahead. Boys are concerned about their height, muscle development, and sexual development, as all these are a matter of regular comparison among teen males.

Parents have to have open communication with their teens, and provide honest and accurate information in answer to their concerns; otherwise teens will turn to their peers for information, which is often incorrect and misleading. Patience is also important to good communication, as boys might feel awkward about demonstrating affection or neglect good grooming habits that parents might expect. Encourage physical activity; don't let your teen feel inadequate because he has a smaller build and undeveloped muscles. Above all, be supportive as your male teen goes through the challenging transition of adolescence.