A timeline of the changes going on your your preteen son's life and body

Preteen Boys – Surviving This Weird Time in Their Life

So I now have a preteen boy living in my home. He’s been here awhile (11 years) but I’ve finally accepted the fact that he’s now a preteen. I’ve also accepted the fact that I know practically nothing about them.

I was the second of seven siblings, three of whom were boys. The oldest boy, however, was born when I was 10; by the time he was a preteen, I was in college and getting married. So, no practical experience whatsoever. My husband was a preteen once (thankfully he outgrew that!) and he’s really good at relating to our sons. A lot of the responsibility of raising children, both boys and girls, however, often falls to the moms.

A lot of this just comes up one at a time, so you don’t have to stress out that all of a sudden your son is going to turn into a raging hormonal preteen on their 11th birthday. It’s a gradual changing of things. Just remember that some of these things can be slightly embarrassing to your son at first, especially if he is sensitive to what others may think or say about him. Mine is very sensitive, but he also wants to be a grown-up (I think he’s going to be disappointed when he becomes one!) so he kind of likes putting on deodorant each morning. Weird, right?

If you’re like me, and raising a preteen boy, here’s a timeline of what to expect, and when. Hopefully we’ll get through it all in one piece (our children and us!) I’ve also got a free printable at the bottom to help you show your son you love him, so be sure to download that!

Body Odor

The first thing you’re going to notice is that your son comes in from playing outside smelling MUCH stronger than normal. Maybe even on days when he’s not outside that much, he still smells strong by the end of the day. This typically starts around the age of 10. My son started wearing deodorant last year. We didn’t give him a special deodorant; simply pick one out at the store. We gave our son the same brand his dad wears.

Body Hair

This one has a very large range, starting between 10-15 years old. We haven’t noticed it yet on our oldest. Pubic hair tends to start first, with more arm and leg hair following behind. Facial hair is the last to appear, often waiting until the later teen years. Then again, I have a brother who can’t grow any facial hair to save his life, and he’s 25 now!

Boys can be very sensitive to the changes happening in their body, so knowing ahead of time what to expect can help you navigate this time together.

Muscle Development

Your son will start to show signs of growing muscles between 11 and 14. Now, my son was never a beanpole to begin with, but he has certainly filled out in the last year. He doesn’t do any weightlifting or anything (muscle man he is not!) but you can definitely tell he’s going to be a big kid and man. He takes after his uncle who is 6’5″! It’s just that stage of life; remember when your toddler started leaning out and losing the baby fat? Now they’re bulking up just a little.

Voice Changes

This is probably one of the MOST obvious changes that even total strangers will notice. Between the ages of 11 and 15, your son’s voice will start to deepen and crack as he’s talking. I’ve noticed it once or twice with my own child, but not too much yet. It will usually happen at first when they’re really excited about something, and can’t control their voices quite as well. It basically happens because their vocal chords are changing and growing, and they’re getting squeezed inside.


Ah, the bane of many a boy’s (and girls!) existence. Acne typically begins around age 13. It has nothing to do with his consumption of junk food or greasy fast food, and more to do with his growth. The sweat and oil glands are growing and producing, and they can get clogged. If your son doesn’t wash his face very well, this can result in pimples. Get him a face wash (over the counter usually works fine) and show him how to use it. I’ve found that just handing him a bottle or tube without clear instructions that he is to use it (how, frequency, everything!) will not work. If the pimples and acne get really bad, even while using a cleanser, take him to a dermatologist to get a stronger cleanser or medicine.


There you have it; a basic timeline of what to expect from your preteen boy. Knowing a rough timeline of events and what to expect of them will help you navigate through their changing body so they can easily navigate it as well. And of course, through all of it, remind them that they are loved and cared for in your family and that they can come to you for any questions or concerns they may have. Knowing you are open any time for them to talk to makes them feel more secure and confidant in themselves.

If you’re anything like me (you are, right?) then maybe you have a hard time saying “I love you” to your preteen son in a manner where he won’t roll his eyes. Maybe you say it, but it doesn’t seem to really affect him. I’ve pulled together a printable to help you out. Memorize these things to do to show your son you love him, without making him roll his eyes at you. They’re pretty simple, and if you say “I love you” the first couple of times you do them, he’ll understand that this is your way of saying it, without actually saying the words and causing embarrassment. Download it now to help strengthen your relationship.

Download Your “Ways to Show Your Preteen Son You Love Him” Printable

The following contains affiliate links. I only promote products that I know and believe in!

I highly recommend 808Dude if you are looking for natural, organic products for your tween and teen to use. Made in Australia, the skin care line has a body wash and shampoo, a deodorant and a face wash to help control acne. With the cool packaging, hopefully your 12 year old won’t conveniently “forget” to use it!

Another thing that might help you, if you need to help your son understand the changes going on in his body, is to get a couple of books. I recommend The Boys’ Body Book by Kelli DunhamThe Ultimate Guy’s Body Book by Dr. Walt Larimore or The “What’s Happening to my Body?” book for Boys by Lynda Madaras. These books are great to read ahead of time and go over with your son, or ask him to read on his own and come to you with questions.


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