Voice Cracking in Boys

It's one of the embarrassing signs of puberty in boys. Why exactly is it happening? And how can parents help their teen kids cope?

Voice Cracking in Boys

It’s one of those inevitable signs of puberty in boys – the time when their voice starts cracking. Although it typically lasts a short time, this stage can be very embarrassing for those boys experiencing it, delivering a blow to their self-esteem.

Parents may feel at a loss with how to make their child feel more confident with themselves while they face this stepping-stone on the way to manhood. Here’s some insight to help you help him.

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What’s going on?

A key move toward helping your son reconcile with his changing voice is giving him the information to understand what is going on. So, why exactly do boys’ voices crack as they become deeper?

“Characteristically, by about 13, most boys are starting to experience changes (in their voice),” says Siegfried Schweighofer, a pediatrician with Henry Ford Macomb Hospital.

The increase in the production of the hormone testosterone tells the body to begin its development into an adult. At this time, boys will most likely also be experiencing body odor and growth of body hair.

Looking at the process

“Puberty can take about 2 to 4 1/2 years,” adds Schweighofer. “Voice changes occur once a significant amount of hormones are present.”

The progression of puberty can be tracked using the Tanner stages, a scale that charts the development of boys and girls from puberty into adulthood. There are a total of five stages.

Dr. Schweighofer says that by Tanner stage five, when the body has finished developing sexually, a young man’s voice should settle into its adult form.

As a boy grows into sexual maturity, his voice becomes deeper. This change doesn’t happen overnight, though. Some boys’ voices deepen more quickly than their peers’ voices. Because of this gradual change, a boy’s voice can occasionally crack.

The change in voice occurs when a boy’s voice box, also known as the larynx, begins to grow. While this is happening, the vocal cords start thickening. The nasal, sinus and throat cavities also become larger, which allows the voice greater area through which to resonate.

Together, all these components contribute to creating a young man’s deeper voice. The greater the size of the larynx, thickness of the vocal cords and amount of space in the sinuses causes a boy’s voice to be deeper.

Rolling with it

For Tammy Cedo’s son, the change started when he was about 10.

“At first we paid no attention to it, because it was not bothering him or anybody,” says the southeast Michigan mom. “That was, until he started sixth grade and started singing in the choir. Then it became a bit of a problem.”

Despite the “soreness, irritation and slight voice loss” Cedo’s son experienced, she thinks her son has handled the change well.

“I think most people nowadays ignore the cracking,” she says. “Our three daughters have not even bothered to tease him about his voice because they live with him.”

This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated for 2016.

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Comments
  • “I think most people nowadays ignore the cracking”. That is a lie! On YouTube, there are voice crack compilations! Look them up!

    Reply
  • my son is 16 yrs old and his voice has not broken{cracked} he has matured in every other way as normal but his voice is very squeeky. i feel sorry for him as i know he is very aware of this and gets teased by his class mates. is their anything we can do to help him or is it possible that it may never change?

    Reply
    • Hi Kevin I am 25 and my voice cracks a lot. My cousin and I were very slow developing. Even though I am older than him when we both turned 18 our voices got deeper and my cousin shot up over 6 feet. So tell him it might take time but when it does he will probably have the best voice ever. When I got my voice deeper at 18-19 no one wanted me to stop talking at all. The same will most likely happen to him some of us are just late bloomers :)

      Reply
  • I’m 14 now and my voice every day keeps going high then low, I also feel like I have swallowed a golf ball. Is this normal? And does it mean my voice is breaking?

    Reply
  • I’m 16 and my voice cracks a lot but I just see it as I’m growing up and tbh where I live some girls like it they be like awww he growing up

    Reply

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