9 to 12 year olds' puberty

During this period, kids are heading in a completely new direction. These preteens become more prudish and their actions are not as innocent as they once were. However, we must talk to them about love and sex with tact, otherwise they will shut down. At that age, they don’t enjoy being teased about their love interests or discussing sexual topics with you.

The word puberty refers to a biological maturing stage that girls and boys go through and that enables them to reproduce” explains the website.

Sometimes peeping Tom and other times exhibitionist, sometimes provocative and other times too shy, the preteen can be a source of worry for the adults around him. Rest assured. He is exploring his new sexuality and body with his own eyes.

Physical changes

The first physical changes occur around the age of 9. You will be amazed to see your son or daughter gain a couple of centimetres every year. And what about the other obvious physical changes that clearly show that your child is leaving childhood behind and slowly becoming an adult! Remember that these changes can be disturbing for the ones going through them, and are usually at the root of comments for the ones who notice them.

Try to say something positive about these changes to help your child go through the metamorphosis with as little embarrassment and discomfort as possible. Try to reinforce your child’s self-esteem by being present during these changes, for he may be made fun of at school.

The first sign of puberty for girls is without a doubt the development of breasts at around 10 ½ years old. This slight budding may be a little painful. There is nothing to worry about if both breasts don’t develop exactly in the same way or at the same time. If this is stressing and worrying your child, comfort her quickly. It is normal!

About 6 months after the breasts have started developing, when your child has an intense growth spurt, pubic and armpit hair start to appear. The first menstruations generally occur by the age of 12 or 13. “This development process lasts about 3 to 4 years, at the end of which the breasts and areolas have reached their adult size, and so does the appearance of pubic hair. Girls usually reach their adult size about two years after their first period”, explains

With boys, puberty generally happens about a year after girls. The first sign of puberty is the increased size of the testicles at around the age of 11 ½ or 12.

During the following months, pubic and armpit hair will start to appear. “Puberty continues with an increase in the size of the testicles and penis, as well as the continual growth of pubic and armpit hair. The physical growth often starts with the widening of hands and feet, followed by the growth of arms, legs, torso and chest. Other changes include the breaking of the voice, a muscle mass increase and the ability to have erections and ejaculate. Breasts may develop with certain boys. The boys’ growth spurt ends about 2 or 3 years later than the girls’”, explains

Privacy please!

Teens are often embarrassed by their physical transformations and what is going on inside them, a mix of desire, attraction and impulses. They examine themselves a lot… and compare. They're wondering if they are normal. They need to be reassured but not lectured or pushed around. Find the right time to speak to them and don’t ever let them feel like they can’t ask you questions.

Privacy also means exploring the body and the pleasures that come with it. “Puberty is generally a time where the nature and frequency of masturbation, both for boys and girls, is different from when they were children. The main objective is now to get pleasure and reach an orgasm. Most boys and girls who have never masturbated will start during puberty”, explains

No matter what has been said about it, masturbation does not have any physical or psychological consequences. We must repeat it to our children in order to play things down, but also to make them realize that this is a very private and intimate thing that should only be done in intimate or private moments.

Information on 9 to 12 year olds' sexuality

Developmental outcomes

  • Development’s outcomes
  • Physical changes associated with puberty;
  • Psychological/social changes associated with puberty;
  • Good understanding of the rights associated with sex and sexual relations;
  • Frequent behaviours;
  • Dating (going out with someone);
  • Physical intimacy (kissing, touching);
  • Masturbation;
  • Preoccupation with sex (everything comes back to sex);
  • Interest in sexually-oriented media


  • Premature initiation to adult sexual activities;
  • Adaptation issues regarding sexual orientation (homosexual or bisexual);
  • Body image issues;
  • Social skills issues.

Learning goals

  • Good knowledge of the physical and psychological changes brought on by puberty;
  • Diversified education about sexual health, such as waiting to have a first sexual relation and contraception/safe sex.
  • Education about social skills in regards to rights in relationships and mutual satisfaction;
  • Learning to understand, interpret and evaluate sexual images and messages being shown in the media.


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