Puberty: Helping your child transition to adulthood

Understanding Puberty

Understanding puberty in adolescents


Transitioning from childhood to adulthood, also known as puberty, can be a challenging time for adolescents.

In new Akron Children’s Hospital video podcasts, one focusing on boys and one on girls, Nneka Holder, MD, an adolescent medicine specialist, discusses the physical changes that occur in puberty, signs for possible concern, and what parents can do to help their children through these changes.

The rapid growth that boys and girls experience during puberty is second only to the growth they experience during their first year of life.

Dr. Holder explains that the ages for puberty onset can vary based on gender, race/ethnicity and geography. The onset is often similar to that of a boy’s father and a girl’s mother.

“We can see puberty starting for girls as young as 8; the average age for the onset of puberty is around 12 or 13,” said Dr. Holder. “Boys start puberty later than girls. Boys can start puberty as young as 9, but the average age for the onset of puberty for boys is between the ages of 13 and 14.”

Some changes for both genders include deepening of the voice, change in height and skin changes, including the development of acne.

“Puberty, for the most part, happens on its own time schedule, but certain health conditions can interrupt that natural process,” said Dr. Holder.

Dr. Holder also discusses the parent’s role and how to support adolescents going through puberty.

“It’s important to be there and participate even though you might not appreciate their taste in music or clothes,” said Dr. Holder. “Let them know you will be supportive of healthy decisions for them. Let them explore different options, within limits. Pick your battles and let them know your values.”

Dr. Holder encourages adolescents to spend alone time with their healthcare providers, so they can learn to express any concerns they may have, in their own words.

The female puberty video is available at
The male puberty video is available at

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Understanding Puberty

Dr. Nneka Holder

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Puberty can be a challenging time for adolescents. Help them understand the changes.

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