We're not suggesting you install a punching bag in the garage and give your child a pair of boxing gloves. But sometimes, simply learning a new skill set can give your child the confidence he needs to get over the hump. Consider karate class or a team sport. Staying active, and possibly making new set of friends, can go a long way toward building self-esteem -- and that's the best weapon your child could have.
Let your tween know (over and over again) that he or she isn't at fault when it comes to being bullied. In fact, your child is probably ahead of the bully in so many ways -- because of good grades, sports performance or musical talent -- and the bully probably targets your tween out of misplaced jealousy.
Self-confidence doesn't occur overnight, so tell your tween it's fine to "fake it 'til you make it." One thing it's not cool to fake, however, is a tween's true feelings.
And as much as you want to be there for your child, sometimes it's just easier for a tween to talk to someone who isn't mom or dad. Find a school counselor, teacher or mental health professional your child also can confide in. Help your tween develop a couple of really close friends, too. Children need someone their own age who can empathize and remain loyal -- especially when the rumors are flying or there's a daily worry about bullying.
Despite all your best efforts, you may need to use more drastic measures, and we'll explore them on the next page.