Due to increasing amounts of sex hormones during and after puberty, boys and girls grow considerably during their teenage years, according to the website Kids Health. While girls tend to begin these growth spurts earlier, boys tend to grow taller and over a longer period of time. As such, preteen girls tend to tower over their male classmates, who eventually catch up to and surpass these girls in height as they experience their own growth spurts.
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With surges of testosterone in boys and estrogen in girls, puberty triggers a variety of physical changes that lead to sexual maturity. Girls tend to enter puberty between the ages of 8 and 13, while their male peers join them later, typically between the ages of 10 and 13, according to the website Kids Health. While growth spurts may occur before, during or after puberty, most puberty-related growth spurts occur in the early-to-mid teenage years. Although the growth of girls tends to slow down by the age of 14, the average teenage boy will continue growing rapidly until the age of 16.
During the rapid surge in development of a teen's bones and muscles, growth occurs at different paces, notes the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Some teens experience intense bursts of development known as mini-spurts, which may be accompanied by physical "growing pains" in their legs. During these phases of intense growth, boys may increase in height by up to 4 inches and girls up to 3 1/2 inches in a single year, notes BBC. In between mini-spurts, such teens may continue growing at a normal pace. Other teens, however, grow at a steady, above-normal pace throughout their teenage years, slowing down or stopping by the age of 16.
Most teenagers experience growth spurts, with the average girl growing fastest between the ages of 12 and 13 and the average boy seeing his biggest gains in height between the ages of 14 and 15, according to Broward County Public Schools. Such teens experience a rapid decline in growth following these spurts, with most girls reaching their adult height by the age of 18 and most boys stopping at age 20. Some teenagers, however, do not experience any growth spurts, instead growing at a slow, steady pace throughout their teenage years. While such teens may seem to lag behind their classmates, they may not experience the same rapid decline in growth and eventually catch up to their peers in their late teens.
With growing pains, classmates at a range of different heights and worries about being too short or too tall, growth spurts can be a socially and physically awkward time for teenagers. As such, you should be supportive, avoid comparing your teen to others, provide honest and open answers to any questions and encourage or praise your teen's physical, social and psychological development throughout, according to Kids Health. While it may be difficult to impose rules on your growing teen, nutrition, sleep and physical activity are all vital to proper growth. By modelling a healthy lifestyle and closely monitoring that of your teen, you can help to ensure a healthy, comfortable transition through this physically difficult phase.