DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is in seventh grade. He is smart and social. He has a big group of friends, and from an outside perspective, he seems to be the leader of the group; he's always calling the shots and making the plans. As much as I admire this leadership trait in my son, I’m afraid he is turning into a bully. Whenever he and his friends are over at the house, I overhear my son saying mean things to some of the other boys. Do you think this is something I should be concerned about? Should I interfere? Is it just a phase? -- Son Might Be a Bully, Milwaukee
DEAR SON MIGHT BE A BULLY: You must address this immediately. Tell your son what you have observed and heard and how you think it makes the other boys feel. Because your son is popular, he needs to understand that his words probably carry more significance than those of his peers. That makes it even more important for him to be mindful of how he teases others. It is not OK to be mean to his friends. Tell him that you will not tolerate it. Ground him if he doesn’t curtail his behavior. If he loses precious privileges, he may consider changing his ways.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)