1 Normal Age Range: 9-12, Average: about 10
Male hormones are becoming active, but there are hardly, if any, outside signs of development. Testicles are maturing, and some boys start a period of rapid growth late in this stage
2 Normal Age Range: 9-15, Average: 12-13
Testicles and scrotum begin to enlarge, but penis size doesn't increase much. Very little, if any, pubic hair at the base of the penis. Increase in height and change in body shape.
3 Normal Age Range: 11-16, Average: 13-14
Penis starts to grow in length, but not much in width. Testicles and scrotum still growing. Pubic hair starts to get darker and coarser and is spreading towards the legs. Height growth continues and body/face shape look more adult. Voice begins to deepen (and crack). Some hair around the anus grows.
4 Normal Age Range: 11-17, Average: 14-15
Penis width increases, as well as length. Testicles and scrotum still growing. Pubic hair begins to take adult texture, although covers a smaller area. Most boys have first ejaculations. Underarm hair develops. Facial hair increases on chin and upper lip. Voice gets deeper and skin gets more oily.
5 Normal Age Range: 14-18, Average: around 16
Nearing full adult height and physique. Pubic hair and genitals have adult appearance. Facial hair grows more completely and shaving may begin now or soon. During the late teens and early twenties, some men grow a bit more and develop more body hair, especially chest hair.
Credit: J. Geoff Malta, MA, EdM, NCC Adolescent Therapist
Puberty 101 Archives
1 Age Range: Usually 8-11
In Stage 1 there are no outside signs of development, but a girl's ovaries are enlarging and hormone production is beginning.
2 Age Range: Usually 8-14. Average: 11-12
The first sign is typically the beginning of breast growth, including "breast buds." A girl may also grow considerable height and weight. The first signs of pubic hair start out fine and straight, rather than curly.
3 Age Range: Usually 9-15. Average: 12-13
Breast growth continues, and pubic hair coarsens and becomes darker, but there still isn't a lot of it. Your body is still growing, and your vagina is enlarging and may begin to produce a clear or whitish discharge, which is a normal self-cleansing process. Some girls get their first menstrual periods late in this stage.
4 Age Range: Usually 10-16. Average: 13-14
Pubic hair growth takes on the triangular shape of adulthood, but doesn't quite cover the entire area. Underarm hair is likely to appear in this stage, as is menarche. Ovulation (release of egg cells) begins in some girls, but typically not in a regular monthly routine until Stage 5.
5 Age Range: Usually 12-19. Average: 15
This is the final stage of development, when a girl is physically an adult. Breast and pubic hair growth are complete, and your full height is usually attained by this point. Menstrual periods are well established, and ovulation occurs monthly.
Self-esteem involves how much a person values herself and appreciates her own worth and importance. For example, a teen with healthy self-esteem is able to feel good about her character and her qualities and take pride in her abilities, skills, and accomplishments. Self-esteem is the result of comparing how we'd like to be and what we'd like to accomplish with how we actually see ourselves.
Everyone experiences problems with self-esteem at certain times in their lives - especially teens who are still figuring out who they are and where they fit into the world. How a teen feels about herself can be related to many different factors, such as her environment, her body image, her expectations of herself, and her experiences. For example, if a person has had problems in her family, has had to deal with difficult relationships, or sets unrealistic standards for herself, this can lead to low self-esteem.
Recognizing that you can improve your self-esteem is a great first step in doing so. Learning what can hurt self-esteem and what can build it is also important. Then, with a little effort, a person can really improve the way she feels about herself.
Constant criticism can harm self-esteem - and it doesn't always come from others! Some teens have an "inner critic," a voice inside that seems to find fault with everything they do - and self-esteem obviously has a hard time growing in such an environment. Some people have modeled their inner critic's voice after a critical parent or teacher whose acceptance was important to them. The good news is that this inner critic can be retrained, and because it now belongs to you, you can be the one to decide that the inner critic will only give constructive feedback from now on.
It may help to pinpoint any unrealistic expectations that may be affecting your self-esteem. Do you wish you were thinner? Smarter? More popular? A better athlete? Although it's easy for teens to feel a little inadequate physically, socially, or intellectually, it's also important to recognize what you can change and what you can't, and to aim for accomplishments rather than perfection. You may wish to be a star athlete, but it may be more realistic to set your sights on improving your game in specific ways this season. If you are thinking about your shortcomings, try to start thinking about other positive aspects of yourself that outweigh them. Maybe you're not the tallest person in your class and maybe you're not class valedictorian, but you're awesome at volleyball or painting or playing the guitar. Remember - each person excels at different things and your talents are constantly developing.
If you want to improve your self-esteem, there are some steps you can take to start empowering yourself:
- Remember that self-esteem involves much more than liking your appearance. Because of rapid changes in growth and appearance, teens often fall into the trap of believing their entire self-esteem hinges on how they look. Don't miss the inner beauty that's more than skin deep in yourself and in others.
- Think about what you're good at and what you enjoy, and build on those abilities. Take pride in new skills you develop and talents you have. Share what you can do with others.
- Exercise! You'll relieve stress, and be healthier and happier.
- Try to stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself. When you catch yourself being too critical, counter it by saying something positive about yourself.
- Take pride in your opinions and ideas - and don't be afraid to voice them.
- Each day, write down three things about yourself that make you happy.
- Set goals. Think about what you'd like to accomplish, then make a plan for how to do it. Stick with your plan and keep track of your progress. If you realize that you're unhappy with something about yourself that you can change, then start today. If it's something you can't change (like your height), then start to work toward loving yourself the way you are.
- Beware the perfectionist! Are you expecting the impossible? It's good to aim high, but your goals for yourself should be within reach.
- Make a contribution. Tutor a classmate who's having trouble, help clean up your neighborhood, participate in a walk-a-thon for a good cause, the list goes on. Feeling like you're making a difference can do wonders to improve self-esteem.
- Have fun - enjoy spending time with the people you care about and doing the things you love.
It's never too late to build or improve self-esteem. In some cases, a teen may need the help of a mental health professional, like a therapist or psychologist, to help heal emotional hurt and build healthy, positive self-esteem. A therapist can help a teen to learn to love herself and realize that her differences make her unique.
So, what's the payoff? Self-esteem plays a role in almost everything you do - teens with high self-esteem do better in school and enjoy it more and find it easier to make friends. They tend to have better relationships with peers and adults, feel happier, find it easier to deal with mistakes, disappointments, and failures, and are more likely to stick with something until they succeed. Improving self-esteem takes work, but the payoff is feeling good about yourself and your accomplishments.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: April 2001