Height Growth in Teenagers

Boys and girls have dramatically different height growth as teenagers. Whereas boys grow more than 5 inches between the ages of 13 and 15 years, girls grow only 1.6 inches during their teenage years after growing more rapidly than boys before adolescence. Height growth or a lack thereof often has a profound effect on boys' and girls' behavior, self-esteem and social development, according to "Understanding Psychology," a college textbook.

Female teens grow sooner than male teens. (Image: Todd Warnock/DigitalVision/Getty Images)

Preteens

Girls' preteen growth is a major reason why boys' teen height growth is so much larger. At age 12 years, the average girl is 61.4 inches or slightly taller than 5 feet, 1 inch, while the average boy is 60.9 inches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2004 "Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index" report. Whereas the average girl grows 9.9 inches between the ages of 8 and12 years, the average boy grows 8.7 inches.

Cause

Boys and girls grow when their pituitary glands begin secreting large amounts of various hormones. These hormones "affect virtually every aspect of the adolescent's life," according to "Understanding Psychology." These hormones cause girls to begin menstruating and developing breasts. A couple of years later, these hormones cause boys to have deeper voices and ejaculate. The hormones cause boys and girls to grow body hair and have intense sexual feelings, the college textbook reports.

Statistics

The average 13-year-old boy is 2.2 inches taller than the average 12-year-old--63.1 inches or 5 feet 3. Boys are an average 3.2 inches taller as 14-year-olds and another 2.1 inches taller as 15-year-olds, when they are 5 feet 8 on average. At 19 years of age, they are almost 5 feet 10, the CDC reports.

The average 13-year-old girl is 62.6 inches, only 1.2 inches taller than the year before. Girls grow another 1.2 inches during the next two years and are on average about 5 feet 4 inches from age 15 through 19 years.

Effect on Boys

Height growth has "important implications" on the lives of teenage boys, according to "Understanding Psychology." The college textbook reports that whereas taller boys have higher self-esteem, are more popular and perform better in sports, shorter boys "tend to be ridiculed and seen as less attractive." However, shorter boys do better in school and are better behaved because early-maturing boys are more apt to be friendlier with older boys.

Effect on Girls

Height growth has a less direct impact on teenage girls, but girls who grow at a later age than their classmates usually mature later in other areas such as breast development as well. Early maturers have more self-esteem and are more popular, but they are also teased more and get more unwelcome attention, according to "Understanding Psychology" author Robert S. Feldman. Late maturers tend to be taller as adults.

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