Yesterday, your son sounded like he's always sounded — like a boy. But today, you heard that first crack in his voice. He's started puberty and several things about him are changing. Along with obvious changes in physical appearance, his voice will start sounding a whole lot different. For a while, he might have difficulty controlling it and he'll make all sorts of odd noises when speaking.

The Changing Larynx 

It's the larynx (or voice box) that's causing all that noise. As the body goes through puberty, the larynx 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.

The Science Behind the Squeaking

The larynx, which is located in the throat, plays the major role in creating the sound of the voice. Two muscles, or vocal cords, are stretched across the larynx and they're kind of like rubber bands.

When a person speaks, air rushes from the lungs and makes the vocal cords vibrate, which in turn produces the sound of the voice. The pitch of the sound produced is controlled by how tightly the vocal cord muscles contract as the air from the lungs hits them. If you've ever plucked a small, thin rubber band, you've heard the high-pitched twang it makes when it's stretched. A thicker rubber band makes a deeper, lower-pitched twang. It's the same process with vocal cords.

Before a boy reaches puberty, his larynx is pretty small and his vocal cords are kind of small and thin. That's why his voice is higher than an adult's. But as he goes through puberty, the larynx gets bigger and the vocal cords lengthen and thicken, so his voice gets deeper. 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 — which gives the voice more room to resonate.

As a boy's body adjusts to this changing equipment, his voice may "crack" or "break." This process lasts only a few months. Once the larynx is finished growing, your son's voice won't make those unpredictable sounds.

A Normal Stage of Growth

Those croaks and squeaks in a boy's voice are just a part of this normal and natural stage of growth. As a boy gets used to these big changes, his voice can be difficult to handle and it may take a lot of effort to keep it under control. Just as he's getting used to the big changes in his body, he has to adapt to the sound of what he's saying.

As puberty continues, his body adjusts to the new size of the larynx, and the croaks and squeaks begin to taper off. After that, the new, deeper voice becomes much more stable and easier to control.

Along with other obvious changes in the way your son looks, there's a significant change in the throat area. When his larynx grows bigger, it tilts to a different angle inside the neck and part of it sticks out at the front of the throat. This is the "Adam's apple." In girls, the larynx also grows bigger but not as much as a boy's does, which is why girls don't have prominent Adam's apples.

Everyone's timetable is different, so some boys' voices might start to change earlier and some might start a little later. A boy's voice typically begins to change between ages 11 and 14½, usually just after the major growth spurt. Some boys' voices might change gradually, whereas others' might 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 a resonant, deep, and full voice just like an adult!

Back to Articles


Related Articles

What's an Adam's Apple?

Where's your Adam's apple? Do you even have one? Find out in this article for kids.

Read More

I'm Growing Up - But Am I Normal?

When you're growing up, lots of changes happen and everyone wonders: Am I normal?

Read More

A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Teen Years

You've lived through 2 AM feedings, toddler temper tantrums, and the back-to-school blues. So why is the word "teenager" causing you so much anxiety?

Read More

Talking to Your Child About Puberty

Talking to kids about puberty is an important job for parents, especially because kids often hear about sex and relationships from unreliable sources. Here are some tips.

Read More

Boys and Puberty

On the way to becoming a man, a boy's body will go through a lot of changes, including your body growing bigger, your voice changing, and hair sprouting everywhere. Find out more.

Read More

Understanding Puberty

Puberty was awkward enough when you were the one going through it. So how can you help your kids through all the changes?

Read More

Your Changing Voice

Both boys and girls experience voice changes as they grow older, but it's the boys that will notice the biggest difference. Find out more in this article for kids.

Read More

Why Is My Voice Changing?

At puberty, guys' bodies begin producing a lot of the hormone testosterone, which causes changes in several parts of the body, including the voice.

Read More

All About Puberty

Voice cracking? Clothes don't fit? Puberty can be a confusing time, but learning about it doesn't have to be. Read all about it in this article for kids.

Read More

Male Reproductive System

Understanding the male reproductive system and what it does can help you better understand your son's reproductive health.

Read More

Everything You Wanted to Know About Puberty

Voice cracking? Clothes don't fit? Puberty can be a confusing time, but learning about it doesn't have to be. Read all about it.

Read More

Your Child's Growth

From the moment parents greet their newborn, they watch the baby's progress eagerly. But how can they tell if their child is growing properly?

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

Search our entire site.