In their second decade of life,
children experience puberty. Puberty
is the stage where the child transforms from physical immaturity
into becoming capable of reproduction. One of the first visible
signs of puberty is a growth spurt - both in the child's size
and shape. Girls experience a growth in their breasts and a hip
expansion. Boys often loose fat and become more angular and muscular,
making them stronger as well. Sex organs change and mature and
girls experience menarche, or their first menstruation.
Psychological Responses to Puberty:
How a child responds to their
own changing body and mind is strongly influenced by the attitudes
and beliefs of others around them. Often, when some time and effort
is spent in preparation for these changes, the child will react
more positively to this time period.
For girls, the weight gain that
is part of puberty can become a problem for them. On average,
girls gain 24 pounds of body fat during puberty, and this can
deviate from the cultural and media idea that "thin is beautiful."
Distress can be felt by teenage girls who find that the thin media
body type is unattainable after puberty has set in, and this distress
can transfer into feelings of dissatisfaction with their new womanly
Aside from media influences, influences
from peers, families and schools effect a teen's reaction towards
their changing bodies.
Early Maturation - Positive consequences: For girls,
early maturation can mean more popularity due to increased sexual
attractiveness. As well, boys who mature physically earlier, are
often regarded as more mature in general.
* Negative consequences: There are also negative consequences
that have been observed to be due to early development. Girls
often react in an embarrassed way, and slouch in order to hide
their bodies. They report being more dissatisfied with their bodies
and often weigh more and are shorter when they finish puberty.
As well, early development can pose more risks as girls who develop
earlier are more likely to become involved in sexual relationships
earlier. As well, early development has been associated with a
decline in academics, problem behaviours, involvement in drugs
and alcohol, and shop lifting.
For boys who physically mature
earlier, there also exist a number of negative
consequences. They tend to be more sombre and anxious. They are
less exploratory, curious and intellectual. This has been seen
to be due to the early end in childhood, when the child may be
less prepared to enter adulthood. Often these teens have lower
self-control, less emotional stability and are more likely to
smoke, drink, do drugs and get into trouble with the law.
Late Maturation - At the time when all their peers are
developing, the late maturing child may feel it is a negative
thing at the time. However, these children report being more satisfied
later on in their lives and later become more popular.
of Teens & Children