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is a Brain-Changer
Cracking voices, body odor and wild mood swings - all indicators of the
long-awaited and sometimes dreaded period in every adolescents’ life.
We’re talking puberty.
Most youth are well-aware of the physical changes they can expect their
bodies to go through, but do they know the impact of puberty on their
brains? Are your children aware that all these hormonal changes affect
the way they feel, think and act? If not, it is important to have the
other half of, “the talk” with your child.
Biologically speaking, puberty begins when the brain signals the
release of certain hormones into the bloodstream. This typically occurs
somewhere between the ages of 8 to 14 for girls, and 11 to 17 for boys.
The onset of puberty varies greatly among individuals and is a process
that can take years. Regardless of gender or age, puberty causes
dramatic changes to the brain. Youth need to be aware of the mental and
emotional changes that accompany puberty, along with healthy ways to
cope with the rollercoaster ride of ups and downs.
Let your child know that they are likely to experience a number of new
feelings and emotions during puberty:
Feeling Sensitive: Their body is changing and they may feel awkward and
self-conscious about it. They may feel extra-sensitive when someone
criticizes or teases them. It may take very little to set them off and
they may question if what they are feeling is “normal.” They may also
feel like no one understands them.
Intense Emotions: Their emotions are likely to become stronger and more
intense. What used to be a “like” is now a “love!” What used to
be a dislike is now a “hate!” What used to be a “little envy” is now
Mood Swings: Their emotions seem to flip-flop back and forth. They may
be laughing and seemingly feeling happy one minute; then, they are
suddenly in tears and immensely sad the next. They may be getting along
just fine with siblings then, out of nowhere, they are screaming at
Romantic Feelings: While they may have had a romantic thought or two
about another person before, the way they feel now is different, more
intense. Or, having romantic feelings and thoughts may be a completely
new experience for them altogether.
Conflict: They may begin to have stronger opinions or opinions that are
independent from family members. This may cause them to question family
rules and values. They may seek more freedom and space, which may lead
to conflict with parents, friends or others.
Reassure your child that all of this is a natural part of growing up
and that none of these feelings or emotions make him/her strange or
In addition to reassuring children, you can help by sharing healthy
ways for them to cope with the stress of puberty. Remind them that they
are not alone and that even peers who appear to be sailing smoothly
through puberty are likely struggling with the same feelings. Encourage
them to gather more information on the topic, because like anything
else, knowing the facts can make it less challenging to go through.
Remind them that you are there for them, ready to listen, ready to
answer questions and ready to provide guidance (if asked). For the
times they prefer to talk to someone other than mom or dad, encourage
them to reach out to a trusted friend who is a good listener and will
allow them to vent and get things off their chest. Many adolescents
find that hanging out with their friends, writing, drawing, getting
active or even just sitting back listening to music serve as a great
While puberty typically brings to mind the changing of one’s outward
appearance, there are big changes occurring inwardly as well. While it
is important to give your growing adolescent some space and increased
freedom, it is also important to make it clear that you are still right
there for him/her, providing information, encouragement and support.
Learn how to get the drug prevention conversation started at