Teenagers. Adolescents. Adolescence. Puberty. These terms are often used interchangeably, and are often related to each other, but there are important differences. Teenagers and adolescents refer to the same span in years of age. However, adolescence is the time that youth engage in the developmental tasks of adolescence. These tasks include establishing an adult identity, seeking independence from adults, establishing economic self-sufficiency; these tasks may begin before the teen years, and in males typically not completed until the late teens or early twenties.
Puberty includes the biologic changes that adolescents encounter, which include the adolescent growth spurt. There are many other changes associated with puberty, which we will discuss in detail below.
An adolescent may expect to grow several inches in several months followed by a period of very slow growth, then will typically have another growth spurt. Changes with puberty may occur gradually or several signs may become visible at the same time.
There is a great amount of variation in the rate of changes that may occur. Some adolescents may experience these signs of maturation sooner or later than others. It is important to remember that these changes happen at different times for everyone, and males typically begin puberty after females. Being smaller or bigger than other males is normal as each child experiences puberty.
On average males begin puberty between 9 to 11 years of age.