Is your child’s voice cracking and sounding squeaky? Congratulations, puberty has officially arrived! This article is on voice changes due to puberty in teenagers.
As your child is going through physical changes in his/her teens, you will notice a change in their voice. This is prevalent in male children. In other words, male kids go through a larger change in voice as compared to females. Girls’ voices also change but this change is subtle. However, the boy’s voices show a drastic shift.
In this article, we will understand voice changes due to puberty in teenagers.
Phonotrauma In Teenagers
Your voice impacts your ability to talk clearly. Other than the vocal changes due to puberty, teenagers are also susceptible to “phonotrauma” and other voice disorders.
Teenagers (and even younger children) often misuse their voice by yelling or making loud sounds, throat clearing and excessive coughing.
These behaviours can result in “phonotrauma” a condition where vocal folds close tightly together against each other, causing blister-like bruises. Thus resulting in hoarseness of voice.
Evolution Of The Human Voice Box
The larynx or the voice box helps us to speak and protects our breathing. Further, our bodies are evolving as we grow.
During puberty, physical changes appear in boys and girls. Similarly, the larynx also shows differences. It grows bigger and thicker during the teenage.
During childhood, the length of the vocal cords is usually 2mm long. However, as kids age, the vocal cords grow 10mm maximum in girls and 16mm maximum in boys. What does this mean? This means the longer the vocal cord, the deeper the voice.
The facial bones also grow wider allowing more sound to resonate. In other words, males have longer vocal cords and resonance space making them sound “deeper” or “manly”. Whereas, female cords do not increase in length very much so only a subtle difference is seen.
What Is The Adam’s Apple In Men?
The Adam’s Apple is also called the laryngeal prominence. Further, it is the cartilage covering the larynx. This is seen as a prominence bulging in the neck of men. It’s commonly called Adam’s apple taken from Adam and Eve’s story of the forbidden fruit. Furthermore, this laryngeal cartilage protects the voice box from harm. Since the larynx grows more in men, it’s visible in their neck region.
Why Does The Voice Change?
The anatomical changes in the vocal cords and larynx are mentioned above. However, why does the voice change in puberty? Testosterone increases in boys during puberty. This causes lengthening and thickening in the larynx. However, in females, this change is not noticed. In girls, the impact of estrogen and progesterone makes them sound feminine.
When Does The Voice Change?
In most cases, the voice starts changing around 12 to 13 years of age. In boys, the voice change is completed by 15 to 18 years of age. If the voice has not changed for your son, then it’s a red flag! By 18 years of age, a boy must have a deep male voice quality.
What Are The Voice Changes?
Here are a few voice changes noticed in male children:
- Voice cracks and sounds croaky
- Pitch range reduces
- Inability to sing in high pitches
- Voice sounds hoarse
- Voice and loudness breaks are common
However, these voice changes disappear and stabilize as the child grows.
Every child is different and goes through a unique stage of growth. If your son’s voice has not changed and he is already 18 years of age, watch out for these signs:
- Usually, a high-pitched voice while speaking
- Voice sounds childlike and feminine
- Persistent hoarse voice
- Inability to shout or sing
- Breathy voice quality
Further, if you notice these issues, consult with a Speech Therapist/ Voice Therapist as soon as possible.
Most of these voice issues are treated by voice therapy sessions by a professional.
Tips to Help Your Child with Voice Change:
Some kids go through a range of emotions during puberty. Further, it’s hard, especially with the new change in voice. In other words, children feel embarrassed and conscious of themselves. They are also bullied at school. Hence, be sensitive and watch out for any distress signs. So, here are some tips to support your child.
- Reassure your child these changes are a part of growing up
- Counsel them that the voice will stabilize soon
- Prepare him in advance that it’ll take time for the vocal system to reach its complete growth.
- Inform your child that this is normal for everyone
- Show them informative videos on pubertal changes
- Openly discuss pubertal changes with your child
- Be patient with your kid
- Answer his/her questions sensitively and with the right information
- Allow your child to discuss his freely/her issues
- Do not compare with his/her peers.
Get in touch with a Voice Therapist/ Speech Therapist if your child faces difficulty with his/her voice. Speech and language disorders are among the most frequent health problems among children and adults in India, where statistics show that speech impairment is the fifth most common handicap, with a prevalence of 7%. One out of every ten school children is said to have a speech disorder. Furthermore, 90 per cent of children with speech and language disorders may experience long-term challenges.