DEAR ABBY: I was picked on and bullied as a child. I was very insecure and dealt with low self-esteem. Through counseling I was able to overcome these issues to become a successful wife and mother. My question is, how do I prevent this from happening to my children without being an overprotective "bear" of a mom? -- MAMA BEAR IN NEW YORK
DEAR MAMA BEAR: Children with high self-esteem are less likely to be the targets of bullies. More often it's the child whose self-esteem is fragile to begin with who becomes the victim.
Children learn self-esteem from the way their parents treat them. Tell your children you love them, talk to them, read to them, listen to them and give them your undivided attention. And when they do something right, praise them.
If you teach your children respect for others and how to be independent, they will be less likely to be bullied. When they are old enough to have unsupervised access to their cellphones and online activities, you should also monitor them for any indication that they are being harassed or harassing another child.