If you’re the parent of a young boy, you might not want to hear this. But you can expect the first signs of puberty to kick in around age eight.
Researchers at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne have been studying an early phase of puberty, known as adrenarche. It’s a surge in androgens, which are the male hormone, and it hits both boys and girls when they’re eight or nine.
“There’s no physical side of it, so there’s no hair or anything like that,” explains Amanda Dunn, author of The New Puberty. “It’s just a hormonal surge. But it’s a kind of curtain-raiser for puberty. What the research is showing is that boys seem to be more affected by it than girls. It can have quite a big impact on kids’ emotional lives and also on their relationships.”
Dunn has spoken to teachers who say they often see a change in boys around Year Three or Year Four.
“They’ll notice that boys who previously weren’t very emotional seem to burst into tears more often or more readily than they used to, or their friendship groups might fracture a little bit and rearrange themselves.”
Boys might get emotional if one of their friends is mean to them, or they feel like they’re being left out.
“It’s the usual things that would upset an eight-year-old," Dunn said. "But where they might have just brushed them off, now there’ll be tears instead, or what seems like an unusually emotional response.”