Kids are definitely maturing faster than ever before – according to a 2012 NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) research paper, the onset of puberty has decreased by more than six years in the last 150 years. Back in 1860, the average age of the onset of puberty was 16.6, by 2010, it dropped to 10.5. While the aforementioned study deals mainly with girls, new research carried out by Dr Marcia Herman-Giddens confirmed that boys are also entering puberty at earlier and earlier ages.
As kids enter the teenage years, their height increases quickly, and before they even know it, they are of the same height as their parents. The problem is, as children go into puberty sooner than ever before, their mind simply cannot keep pace with their developing bodies. The rising levels of testosterone, which triggers the increase in height, also boost the development of the reproductive organs and the growth of body hair (if you want to know more about the effects of testosterone, you can read about it in this Health Line article ).
Even though growth spurs can occur at any time between the ages of 10 and 20, and they usually end within a two-year period. Most boys tend to get a spur at the age of 11. On the other hand, girls develop earlier and they are more likely to have their surge at 10. According to the CDC (Center for the Disease Control) statistics, an average female is 5.5 inches shorter than an average male. This occurs because during the growing period, females grow about 3 inches per year, while males grow around 4 inches.
Most parents know that their child requires a new pair of shoes at least twice a year during the growth period. This happens because the growth spurt affects their feet and hands first. After that, the legs and arms start to grow, with the shin and the forearm elongating ahead of the thigh and upper arm. Furthermore, Bright Futures in Practice: Physical Activity guide states that rapid growth can cause a temporary decline in balance and coordination during the teenage years. The problems occur because most adolescents do not have the muscle structure to support their fast-growing limbs.
Eating habits should be the number one concern in this phase – a teenage body requires a steady supply of calories to ensure rapid growth. However, a parent must make sure that the child has a well-balanced diet, because according to a recent Harvard study, around 25% of teens in Australia are either overweight or obese. Additionally, at the age of 11, 12% of adolescents experience back problems, and the number increases to 22% at the age of 15 according to the Spine Journal. That is why the specialists at the Incline Health clinic recommend a medical examination every six months.
A growth spurt period can be a physically and mentally awkward time for a teen. That is why in this particular period, parents should try to avoid comparing their kids to others and to provide an honest answer for any question. A survey conducted by the University of Pittsburgh revealed that almost 85% of adolescents think highly of their mothers, while more than 80% feel the same way about their father. While it may seem hard to impose rules on a growing adolescent, most of the teenagers will trust their parent’s judgment. By modeling and monitoring a healthy lifestyle, parents will ensure a comfortable transition through this difficult phase.
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