Growth and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old

Growth and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old

Teens going through puberty will have many changes in their developing bodies as growth surges and muscles change shape.

There's a very broad range of time in which kids hit puberty-related growth spurts:

Growth and Changes During Puberty

Puberty — or sexual development — is a time of dramatic change for both boys and girls. Hormone-driven changes are accompanied by growth spurts that transform kids into physically mature teens as their bodies develop.

It's important for them to have healthy eating habits, a well-balanced diet, and some physical activity each day to ensure continued growth and proper development during these years.

Changes in Girls

These characteristics describe the sequence of events in girls as they go through puberty:

Once girls start to menstruate, they usually grow about 1 or 2 more inches, reaching their final adult height by about age 14 or 15 years (younger or older depending on when puberty began).

Changes in Boys

Boys tend to show the first physical changes of puberty between the ages of 10 and 16. They tend to grow most quickly between ages 12 and 15. The growth spurt of boys is, on average, about 2 years later than that of girls. By age 16, most boys have stopped growing, but their muscles will continue to develop.

Other features of puberty in boys include:

At the Doctor's Office

Normal growth — supported by good nutrition, enough sleep, and regular exercise — is one of the best overall indicators of your teen's good health.

Despite data collected for growth charts, "normal" heights and weights are difficult to define. Your teen's growth pattern is largely determined by genetics. Shorter parents, for instance, tend to have shorter kids, whereas taller parents tend to have taller kids.

Although you may worry if your child isn't as tall as other classmates, the more important question is whether your child is continuing to grow at a normal rate. If your doctor detects a problem — such as a growth rate that had been normal but has recently flattened — he or she may track your child's measurements carefully over several months to see whether the growth pattern suggests a possible health problem or is just a variation of normal.

It's not unusual for teens to have their own concerns about how they're growing and how they look. Girls can be very critical of their own weight, which can sometimes lead to unhealthy body image concerns and dieting practices. Boys tend to be more concerned with their height and muscle development, which can also lead to unhealthy practices, like using steroids and protein supplements.

If you're concerned about your teen's body image, or eating and exercise habits, the doctor's office is a good place to discuss this. Many teens worry a lot about being different from their peers and about anything that would make them not fit in or seem "normal."

Encourage your teen to bring up any of these concerns with the doctor, if he or she feels comfortable doing so. The doctor can provide reassurance that other kids have the same concerns about their size.

If you have any other concerns about your teen's growth or development, talk with your doctor.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2015





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.
Related Articles
Medical Care and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old Regular visits help your teen's doctor keep track of changes in physical, mental, and social development. The doctor can also help your teen understand the importance of choosing a healthy lifestyle.
Your Child's Checkup: 13 Years Find out what this doctor's visit will involve when your teen is 13.
Your Child's Checkup: 14 Years Find out what this doctor's visit will involve when your son or daughter is 14.
Your Child's Checkup: 16 Years Find out what this doctor's visit will involve when your son or daughter is 16.
Your Child's Checkup: 17 Years Find out what this doctor's visit will involve when your son or daughter is 17.
Your Child's Checkup: 18 Years Find out what this doctor's visit will involve when your son or daughter is 18.
Fitness and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old Kids who enjoy exercise tend to stay active throughout their lives. Learn how to encourage fitness in your teen.
Your Child's Checkup: 15 Months Find out what this doctor's visit will involve and what your toddler might be doing by 15 months.
Help! Is This My Body? Your body's changing - and if you've ever felt out of step with it, you're not alone. Find out how to deal with body changes and feelings in this article.
What's the Right Weight for My Height? One of the biggest questions guys and girls have is whether they're the right weight. Because the body is growing and changing so much during adolescence, it can be tough to answer this question.
When Will I Start Developing? Lots of girls and guys worry about when their bodies will develop. The fact is that physical development starts at different times and moves along at different rates in normal kids.
Everything You Wanted to Know About Puberty Voice cracking? Clothes don't fit? Puberty can be a confusing time, but learning about it doesn't have to be. Read all about it.
Understanding Puberty Puberty was awkward enough when you were the one going through it. So how can you help your kids through all the changes?
Your Daughter's First Gynecology Visit The idea of going to the gynecologist may make your daughter feel nervous. Here's how to make her feel more comfortable.
Communication and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old Teens spend much of the day outside the home, but it's important that you take time every day to talk with your teen to share opinions, ideas, and information.
Growth Problems In most cases, teens who are small are just physically maturing a bit more slowly than their friends. Occasionally, though, there's a medical reason why some kids and teens stop growing. Find out about growth problems and how doctors can help.
A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Teen Years You've lived through 2 AM feedings, toddler temper tantrums, and the back-to-school blues. So why is the word "teenager" causing you so much anxiety?
Female Reproductive System Without the female reproductive system, there would be no perpetuation of life. Understanding it, what it does, and the problems that can affect it may help you better understand your own daughter's reproductive health.
Talking to Your Child About Menstruation Kids reaching puberty should already know what's going to happen to their bodies. Here are some tips for talking to your daughter about menstruation.
Male Reproductive System Understanding the male reproductive system, what it does, and problems that can affect it can help you better understand your son's reproductive health.
Male Reproductive System What makes up a guy's reproductive system and how does it develop? Can anything go wrong? Find the answers to these questions and more in this article.
Growth and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old Kids entering puberty will undergo many changes in their developing bodies. Find out more about what to expect.
Female Reproductive System Why do girls get periods? What goes on when a woman gets pregnant? What can go wrong with the female reproductive system? Find the answers to these questions and more in this article for teens.
Developments Developments
Sign up for enewsletter
Get involved Get involved
Discover ways to support Akron Children's
Join the conversation Join the conversation
See what our patient families are saying