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Building confidence after online bullying

Online bullying can really knock your confidence. But there are things you can try to help you take control and build up your confidence.

Three things to try

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Confidence is weird, because you can't actually see it.

You just know how it feels when it's there, or when it's not there.

If you could zoom in and see confidence... you'd see it's in little bits that build up slowly over time.

But they can be gradually chipped away or even knocked down in one.

Online bullying can do that. But there are things you can do to support your confidence if it's getting knocked.

Let's look at three things specifically.

Thing One: Try talking about it.

Talking doesn't always feel like it'll be that useful, especially when you're feeling bad. But it can really help.

Say someone's set up a fake Facebook account in your name... or they're messaging pictures of you around school for a laugh.

You're going to have a lot of feelings going on inside, and getting them off your chest is healthy.

Talking also lets you see your situation from a different perspective. You don't have to talk about everything either. Maybe just some stuff.

Go to someone you feel comfortable around. They're the best listeners. And if you can't think of anyone, there's always ChildLine.

Thing Two: Don't let bad feelings weigh you down.

Bad feelings are heavy. They physically get you down. It's not always easy, but if you can find a way to let them go, then let them go, instead of lugging them around all day. It can make things much easier.

Getting bad feelings down on paper is a good way of doing it. Try finishing the sentence 'I feel… because…' Keep doing it and keep doing it, as many times as you can.

When you don't want to do it anymore, look at what you've written, screw it into a ball and throw it away.

If writing's not your thing, try drawing or painting. Anything that lets you get the feeling down and away.

Good thoughts are easier to carry, so try swapping 'bads' for 'goods' whenever you can.

Which takes us to Thing Three: Stay positive.

Focus on the good stuff. Sometimes it's really easy to miss.

Notice when someone gives you a compliment. Do things like you doing. Enjoy them!

Listen to music that makes you smile. Play a sport you're really into. Spend time on a hobby you love. Whatever makes you feel good.

Give yourself the permission and time to do stuff that helps you feel on top.

Also, try setting small achievable goals, like 'Tonight I am not going to keep refreshing my profile every five minutes. I'm going to go and do something that I like doing.'

And then when you manage that, actually give yourself a moment
to feel good about it.

And if anyone ever makes you feel bad for being different, just remember that the things that make you different... are the things that make you, you.

It's the whole point of being!

So there you go! Three things to try, in any order, any time you want.

They've helped lots of people strengthen their confidence in spite of online bullying. But try them for yourself and see what happens.

And remember that ChildLine is always there to help, day or night, night or day, any time of the week, 24/7.

Good luck! 


Getting your confidence back

Cyber bullying or bullying on social networks is upsetting and confusing. You might really struggle to feel confident afterwards. Check out our tips on this page about building your confidence back up bit by bit.

You could try all of these ideas – or just the ones that sound right for you. You may have to find the right combination of things.

Getting your confidence back can really help you deal with bullying. 

Draw the good stuff 

To help you think about what makes you special try using the stage background in the Creative Tool. Imagine your life has been made into a play and draw all the events, props, scenes, and characters that would show the audience just how great you are. The more you can think of, the better! Once you're done, save your creation in your locker so you can look back at it whenever you're feeling bad.

  • Talk about what's going on

    It might not always feel like talking will be all that useful, but it can really help.Talking can help

    It's really healthy to get bad feelings off your chest. One of the best ways to do this is by talking about what's on your mind. Talking also helps you see your situation from a different perspective.

    Think about who would be a good person to talk to. Normally the best listeners are people who you feel comfortable around.

    You could talk to:

    - a close friend
    - an adult you trust
    a ChildLine counsellor

    You don't have to talk about everything. Just mentioning some of what's going on can really help.

  • Give up the guilt

    You might think you’ve done something wrong to deserve online bullying – but this isn’t true. People who bully often do it because:

    - they are jealous
    - they want to feel powerful
    - they are trying to hide something negative in their own lives (like feeling bad about how they look or not having a happy home life)

    If someone is spreading rumours about you online or posting hateful messages, it says more about them than about you. It shows something negative about the other person, but not about you. The bullying is not your fault. Just because the bullying is wrong, that doesn't mean you are wrong.

    Nobody is perfect, so there is always something that people who bully can pick on. Accepting that you’re not perfect (just like everyone else) makes it easier to deal with comments about a part of yourself which you don’t like. Learn more about guilt.

  • Use anger positively

    If someone’s bullying you online, it’s completely normal to experience anger. Being angry is okay. Anger can stop you feeling defeated.

    Remember that anger isn’t the same as aggression. Being angry doesn’t mean posting an abusive message to the other person. Anger can become a problem if it makes you want to hurt someone, break something or hurt yourself.

    Try to understand your anger. See what it looks like. Open up our Creative Tool and draw what it feels like to be angry. If you feel like it, you can share your drawing in the gallery.

    You can then use anger to make positive changes in your life. That might be joining the ChildLine message board community. It could be finding a new place to go and make friends. Or, if you feel confident enough, you could use your anger to block or report someone who is sending you nasty comments. It’s all about taking the anger from the bullying, and channelling the energy into something positive.

    At the same time, not showing your anger is a really useful tactic. Try not to let it show that they’ve got to you. You can do this and still accept how angry you feel. This way the person doing the bullying doesn’t get to feel pleased because they’ve upset you and you can start to feel more in control over how you react.

  • Try new things

    Trying something new is one of the best ways to rebuild your confidence if you’re going through online bullying. It could be anything – even little things, like eating lunch in a different place or putting your hand up in a lesson. You could try a new hobby or talk to someone you haven’t spoken to before. It may seem hard at first, but doing new things often gets easier the more we try it.

                           Try new things

    If you find it hard to stop checking Facebook or Twitter for nasty messages, you could try something new on the internet for the first time. Why not start a new thread on the ChildLine message boards or reply to a message which nobody has replied to yet? You could try writing a blog, article or short story for the first time – if you don’t want people to know you wrote it, you could publish it anonymously, with no name next to it.

    It can be easy to think that you can’t deal with cyber bullying, but trying new things can rebuild your confidence and make you realise that you have the strength to deal with bullying.

  • Let go of the nastiness

    Anybody can experience bullying. If you’re going through cyber bullying, it’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself.

    It’s not always easy to let go of the blame though. Try thinking of the other person’s (or people’s) negativity as a hot potato. If they dump their nastiness on you, make sure you don’t hold onto it. You could do this by writing down your thoughts, doing some drawing or going outside (without your phone) to do some exercise or go for a walk. It's all about finding a way to make sure the bad feelings don't weigh you down.

    A good way to get rid of the nastiness is to use our Creative Tool. You could start by saying: “When I get angry, it looks like…” and then paint an image of how you feel.

    You could also use the Wall of Expression. Write down how you feel and then smash it away. When you smash the wall or finish your drawing, try to think of it as letting go of the negativity. You could also try getting a piece of paper and finishing this sentence: “I feel…because….” – keep writing it as many times as you can. When you can’t do it anymore, scrunch up the piece of paper and throw it away. Or you could keep it safe somewhere until you feel ready to throw it away. Remember, it’s all about learning to control the nastiness and how to get rid of it – so do what feels right for you.

    If you’re getting nasty messages on your phone, you could release the negative feelings by texting someone to tell them how you feel.

  • Remember that difference is amazing

    Being different is okay. Someone might be making you feel bad by sending you messages about being different – but difference is amazing. What if there was only on colour in the world? Or one sport? Or one type of music? Life would be very boring. So don’t forget that our differences are important – they are what make you who you are.

                        Difference is amazing
  • Take control of the blame

    If someone is posting abusive things about you online, it’s easy to blame that person for making you angry. But instead of thinking “You made me angry,” try thinking “I let you make me angry.”

    It’s a small difference, but it’s all about making you feel in control of the situation and how you feel about it.

    It might not mean you can stop feeling upset straight away, but knowing that you have control over how you react to online bullying can help you build up your defences.

    But remember - bullying isn't your fault.

  • Control when you think about online bullying

    Even if it sometimes seems like bullying is following you around, there will be times when you’re not receiving nasty online messages. However, it can be difficult to take your mind off the online bullying sometimes. There might be times when bullying is not happening at that moment, but you are still worrying about it.

    This is natural. However, the problem with worrying about online bullying is that it gives you no time to relax and enjoy yourself. And this isn't healthy for you.

    It’s really important to have time to be ‘you’ and not have to worry about online bullying.

    Try writing down your worries and keeping them in a box. You can then have a set amount of time every day or every week when you take them out and think about them. Make a deal with yourself to keep your worrying to this time only – the rest of the time try to enjoy being yourself.

    You could also go on a ‘cyber-holiday’ where you don’t go on any social networks for a set amount of time. It might be a few days or it could be a week – it’s up to you. You could tell everyone that you won’t be going online for a while. Or, if you prefer, you don’t have to announce it – you can just take a break for a while. It might be difficult, but it could help break the cycle of bullying until you feel confident enough to go back on. 

    Why not set yourself a small goal? For example, you could say to yourself: "Tonight I'm not going to keep refreshing my profile every 5 minutes." Instead, give yourself permission to do something you enjoy. Do whatever helps you feel on top.  

    Remember that you can control when you go on social networks.

  • Top tips from other young people

    Talk to an adult you trust about what’s happening. 
    - Take a screenshot of online bullying, so you can show it to an adult.
    - Don’t be afraid to be the one who speaks out if a joke goes too far.
    Block anyone who bullies you.
    - Know your rights. Under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2—3, you can report anyone who is ‘grossly offensive’ or causes ‘needless anxiety’. Find out how to block people on different social networks.
    - Don’t be tempted to reply to a bullying status or online message about you, that’s what they want you to do!
    - Remember that if the bullying involves a naked or topless image of you (or if people are trying to make you send these kinds of images), you can report it to CEOP - they work with the police to help keep young people safe online.

    Why not go to the message boards and suggest something yourself? We want your ideas on how to build confidence after online bullying so we can keep updating this page with new things to try.

Worried about online bullying?

You can post on the online bullying and safety message board and get help from the ChildLine community

Visit the cyber bullying message board

Online chat

Talk to a ChildLine counsellor on 1-2-1 chat.


Anything missing from this page?

Is there anything missing from this page about building confidence after bullying?

Building confidence after online bullying 


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