My son is 10 and I think his voice is already starting to change. I'm worried — and he's self-conscious — because none of the other boys his age are experiencing this. Is he hitting puberty too soon?
When boys and girls begin puberty, the larynx (voice box) grows larger and thicker. It happens in both boys and girls, but the change is more evident in boys. Girls' voices only deepen by a couple of tones and the change is barely noticeable. Boys' voices, however, start to get significantly deeper.
When a boy reaches puberty, the production of testosterone increases (just as estrogen production increases in girls). Testosterone, which is produced in the testicles and then travels through the blood throughout the body, causes the cartilage of his larynx to grow. Along with the larynx, the vocal cords grow significantly longer and become thicker. In addition, the facial bones begin to grow. Cavities in the sinuses, the nose, and the back of the throat grow bigger, creating more space in the face and giving the voice more room to resonate.
Each child develops at a different pace, so a boy's voice might change anywhere between ages 11 and 141/2, usually just after the major growth spurt. Some boys' voices change gradually, whereas others' change quickly.
If your son is concerned, stressed, or embarrassed about the sound of his voice, let him know that it's only temporary and that everyone goes through it to some extent. After a few months, he'll likely have the resonant, deep, and full voice of an adult!
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: February 2010
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