It's important that your child begin to understand they have power in this situation -- especially because they may feel quite powerless at school. The truth is, your child can choose how (or how not) to respond.
The key is to put safety first. If your tween's dealing with a bully who threatens to escalate the torment to a physical level, there's strength in numbers. Develop strategies so your tween walks home with a group of friends or goes from class to class with buddies -- especially during prime bullying times. This strategy also keeps your tween interacting with others and gives the impression he or she is ignoring the bully. By doing so, the message is, "I don't care," and without a reaction, most bullies will move on.
It can help to role play at home, although your first attempt may be met with some eye-rolling. With your tween, devise and practice verbal strategies for dealing with difficult situations. What if he can't walk away from the bully? Have him practice the poise it takes to throw his bully off-guard with good-natured humor. Such strategies can keep your tween from responding with anger, which only fuels the fire; aggression breeds aggression.
But what if the intimidation is of the cyber variety? We've got suggestions on the next page.