I know, I know. At some point most kids are tormented about something—their weight, their hair, their "dorky" jeans or nerdy glasses. I was one of those: a vulnerable 10-year-old in glasses who desperately wanted contact lenses. I remember the ridicule. It stung. And "four-eyes" taunts still go on. Cliques haven't gone away either: The "in" crowd regularly shows its cruel side by excluding kids who yearn to be accepted. So it's no surprise that three-quarters of kids say they've been teased or bullied, verbally or physically.
But if your 7-year-old is suddenly afraid to go to the playground or your middle kid is having unexplained headaches, diarrhea, upset stomachs, or is just acting odd—or your teenager starts doing anything to avoid going to school (dreading school is a big tip-off)—it's time to do what smart parents do: probe.
If you get an "Everything's fine," keep at it. Kids often hide bullying. They're ashamed of being picked on. Or they're afraid if they "tell," things will get even worse. Or both.