If your son is showing the first signs of adolescence – a gangly body, large feet and an ability to clear out a fridge full of food in a day – it’s time to find out about what to expect in the pre-teen years. Here is what to expect
If your son is showing the first signs of adolescence – a gangly body, large feet and an ability to clear out a fridge full of food in a day – it’s time to find out about what to expect in the pre-teen years.
The pre-teen boy
The pre-teen boy is individual, spontaneous, adventurous, curious and trusting. He’s also experimental, self-conscious and striving to be popular. Dress code and body language are everything. He wants to be individual – yet part of the crowd.
Pre-teens are easily influenced because their brain cells are dopamine and melatonin rich, which is also why they’re prone to outbursts of uncontrollable rage and why it’s easier for them to become addicted to addictive substances.
The pre-teen is coming to grips with his identity. It helps if he can talk to his parents openly. You may find it easier to talk to your pre-teen about sex and bodily changes before they happen.
Boys often become so self-conscious while these changes are actually happening that they don’t want to talk about it.
We often talk to girls more, because their moods, attitudes and hormones flash like neon lights. Boys become withdrawn and uncommunicative and often learn these things by osmosis, which is a pity because uninformed boys are more likely to experiment with alcohol, drugs and sex.
Remember that boys have feelings. They should know that they don’t always have to show a brave face, that they’re allowed to cry when they’re sad, feeling rejected, angry or frustrated.
Parents often underestimate peer pressure and the desire to be cool. Pre-teen boys who don’t enjoy some degree of acceptance feel isolated and inferior. They may try to attract attention and approval in negative ways. They need to realise that these short-term solutions could become life-long handicaps.
You also need to know about the physical changes he is experiencing and to share this information with your son. Testosterone maketh a man. Steroids are its artificial imitation. Testosterone is made in the testicles and controls the physical and emotional changes that make men out of boys.
Testosterone influences the testicles to grow bigger so they “drop” into the scrotal sac. Other organs that grow are the penis, breast tissue (minimally), muscles and bones. Skin becomes thicker, sweat and oil glands become more active and hair sprouts everywhere.
Under the influence of testosterone, muscles that stretch across the voice-box loosen, and a “breaking-voice,” although embarrassing, is his announcement of impending manhood. His first “wet-dream”’ is a wake-up call that his body is fertile.
Discuss the changes happening to his body
Ideally dads (mom or a family member can be an acceptable substitute) should talk to boys about erections, ejaculations, penis hygiene and masturbation. If we overlook these natural phenomena and pretend they don’t exist, young boys may feel anxious and even guilty. Explain what’s happening to him and how to cope with situations that provoke arousal.
Masturbation is something boys do from the time they realise they have a penis. For most, it’s a passing phase, but obsessive masturbation can indicate a problem. Talk to your son. Don’t make him feel guilty – teach him that distraction is his best alternative, that privacy is essential and that no matter what his impulses tell him to do, he must respect other people’s (girls) rights to privacy and bodily integrity.
There is no excuse for boys to hedge their hygiene. Proper skin care will help to control pimples, but for those few who have hyperactive sebaceous glands, it’s best to take him to a dermatologist or doctor, or even for a facial, before he wears a paper bag. There is no need for any teenager to suffer the horrors of acne without getting treatment.
Uncircumcised boys should know how to clean the tip of the penis after urinating. They also need to wash the tip with fresh water at least daily and pay attention to odours, discharges or rashes that can happen with underwear, skin sensitivity and sometimes after sport. Circumcision will not necessarily prevent penile cancer or HIV.