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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
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We have a dilemma with our 12 year old son. He is a wonderful

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We have a dilemma with our 12 year old son. He is a wonderful kid, very thoughtful, smart and compassionate. I would describe him as a "softy", which, my husband and I agree will, in turn, make him a wonderful, happy adult. However, the issue at this point in his life is that he is also not an overly confident kid. It also, just so happens, that the majority of his friends and teammates are very confident and he ends up getting "run over" so to speak.

How do we teach him or help him to overcome his insecurities and believe that he is just as capable as his peers and to stand up for himself? For instance, he plays hockey and is becoming quite a good player. Most of his close friends started playing a couple of years before he did and have more experience, and are happy to point such a thing out to our son. They also made the "A" team this year, while our son made the "B" team. While we have no issues with his making the "B" team (and, in fact, felt that it was better that he did make that team, as he seemed more confident in that setting versus being with the sometimes overly confident kids) he really felt left out and left behind, as you can imagine. As a result, this only added to his self esteem issue.

Similar issues arose last summer during baseball season as he had a teammate that took it upon himself to point out each and every one of our sons errors, yelling at him and embarrassing him in front of his team and spectators. This issue got so bad that I called the childs mother and asked her to have a visit with her son. Things seemed to improve toward the end of the season, but I have a feeling we'll face the same issue again this season, as that child hasn't changed and neither has my son. He would get so upset that he would make more and more errors only adding to the problem. I really hesitated to call the childs mother fearing my son would be teased for having his mom fight his battles and only did so with my sons blessing.

I guess it's the proverbial "bully" situation in all reality. I'm at a loss as to how we can handle this. Our son will be in the 7th grade this coming fall and moving to the middle school, which will be another intimidating situation for obvious reasons. We happen to live in a smaller city and running into the same kids continuously is inevitable. I should also point out that the hockey kids I referenced earlier are not "bad" kids. In fact, our son has alot of fun with them most of the time and has known them his entire life as their parents are close friends of our family. It just so happens they are very self assured, confident kids. Simply a difference in personalities.

Please give us some guidance as to what we can do to help this great kid become and even greater, more confident kid.

Hello and Thank You for using Just Answer. Your son is at the age in which in order to improve his self esteem and gain more self confidence, you are going to have to help him out in some specific ways.


Before I give you a few suggestions, I must say that hockey is an outstanding sport to "toughen" him up. Martial Arts would be another great choice. As for the baseball season, you may want to report the bullying children to the supervisors in charge of the baseball league. Usually there is a code of ethics that the parents and players must follow. When the rules are broken, disciplinary action should be taken.


When 7th grade starts, your son will be faced with new friends and new situations if he will be attending a new school. The best way to build his self esteem is to stay involved in school activities and not to isolate himself.


But as for now, continue to praise him daily. Send him off to school with a "Have a great day!" When he returns home, ask him about his day and three things that he did well at school or three great things that happened to him at school.


Additionally, your son will need to be encouraged to be a risk taker and to think for himself when certain situations arise because you will not always be available to rescue him. Have open ended conversations and even role play of how your son would deal with different situations. Ask your son who, what, why, where, when, and how questions relating to the situations. For example, you and your spouse can role play like you are two kids approaching your son and telling him to give you his backpack, bike, skateboard, cell phone or whatever. See how your son would react. He needs to learn how to respond and react quickly. The more you practice certain situations, the more confident he will become in being able to handle the situations on his own.


Hope this provides you with some insight. If you need more advice, just ask. Have a great rest of the evening.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I like the idea of roll playing and we do encourage him to step outside his comfort zone and take risks occasionally. My question now, is how should he handle those types of situations (two kids taking his backpack, bike, etc.)? What should he say or do? I remember being bullied myself as a child. You feel completely helpless and isolated. I didn't know how to handle it then and I still don't.

We understand that his being passive and not outspoken is simply his personality and maybe there isn't much we can do to change that. I just hate to see him left out or made to feel "less than" when he's in the company of stronger personalities.

Hello again. Your son may have a passive personality but tweens and teenagers can be cruel as you have already seen. You will have to tell your son that you do not want to see others take advantage of him. He will have to be more assertive when confronted by more aggressive individuals. When he is approached by others, he can ignore the person completely. People who are manifesting bullying behavior crave the attention and power. Your son can also repsond to the person by looking them directly in the eye and using a clear sounding powerful voice and say things like: "What's your point?" or "You're wasting your time." If your son does not react to the bullying, it should decrease or cease. Do not allow others do manipulate your son. He must show that he is in control. It will take some practice and time but that is what the role playing will be for.

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