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Building confidence and self-esteem

Always putting yourself down? Or feel like you have no confidence anymore? You are not alone - lots of young people feel exactly the same way. Boost your confidence and self-esteem with these top tips.

Girl feeling confident


How ChildLine can help

Building up your confidence can take
time but we are here for you and will help you with what you're going through.
Taking small steps can often lead to a
big change. 

Information and support
Scroll down for tips on building
confidence and self-esteem. You can
also read advice on how to be more assertive, reduce anxiety and
coping with embarrassment.

Visit the self-esteem message board to get support from other people in similar situations. Read our letters to Sam about self-esteem, write your own letter 
or talk to a ChildLine counsellor.

Building confidence and self-esteem: Top tips

  • Bring out the best in you

    Self-esteem is how you think about yourself, being comfortable with how you look and how you feel. Being confident means feeling good about yourself, your abilities and your thoughts.

    Sometimes your confidence can come and go depending on the situation you are in. You might be really outgoing outside of school but be really shy in class, which is completely normal. At school, you are surrounded by lots of different people and it can be difficult to speak up and be yourself. One way to start building confidence in school is by answering questions during lessons of your favourite subject. You could also help a friend who is struggling with a subject that you're good at. Think of your talents and the things you enjoy doing - then remind yourself of these whenever you feel down.

    If you have low self-esteem, you could also get inspiration from someone who is confident. We sometimes have an image of the person we want to be. It could be somebody who is confident in class and shares ideas or perhaps somebody who isn’t worried about trying new things or afraid of what people think.

  • Act 'as if' you already have confidence

    Whenever you find yourself wishing that you had a certain quality, practise acting ‘as if’ you already had that quality. If you want to look more confident, practise walking with your head upright or wear a bright colour. If you're shy, you could talk to someone at school who you haven't spoken to before. These things can seem scary at first, but after you’ve done it once, you’ll slowly gain the confidence to do it again and eventually, it will come naturally.

  • Coping with nasty comments

    If somebody has said something nasty about the way you look or how you behave, it says more about them than it does about you. Sometimes when people feel insecure, they try to take attention away from themselves by criticising others. Find out more about bullying and how we can help.

  • Look at yourself differently

    No matter how low you feel, try to find one thing that you like about yourself. It could be your hair, your sense of humour, your excellent taste in music, even your football skills. Once you’ve made that start, you can begin to think of more things and develop a positive image of yourself.
    Why not post on the message board and see what others have written?

  • Try something new

    Each day try something new – something that you would otherwise avoid. It could be something small, from styling your hair differently to volunteering to read out loud in class or joining a team. Each time you do something new, you are slowly stepping out of your comfort zone to making a fresh start. The rush you’ll get from making these changes will boost your confidence. Take a look at the hobbies and interests thread on our message board to see what new things other people are trying.

  • Eat better, feel better

    A good way to start to feel more confident about who you are and what you can do, is to look after yourself physically – by eating healthily and doing exercise. Try not to eat a lot of processed food like crisps, chocolate and ready meals and avoid drinking too much coffee. Instead, choose fresh fruit and vegetables and drink plenty of water. By looking after yourself this way, you will naturally feel better and have more energy. Find out more about healthy eating and exercise.

  • Be aware of body language

    Body language is the way we communicate using our body. Sometimes we realise what we are doing and other times we do things out of habit, for example, nodding when we agree with something. If you are talking to someone, it's good to face them, make eye contact and smile. This can let them know that you're listening and it can make you feel confident in what you're saying. Don't slouch or put your hands on your hips as this can make you look lazy or angry. You could try practising this in the mirror at home.

  • Watch your words

    Sometimes the way you say something can make a big difference to how you feel and what others think of you. Take a few moments before you answer a question - this will give you time to think of what to say instead of mumbling. If you are not sure, ask the person to repeat the question or say you don't understand - don't pretend to know. Try using words like 'yes' and 'no' instead of 'sort of' and 'not really'. This can make you sound more clear and confident.

  • Random acts of kindness

    Help a friend or do a little task without being asked. Phone someone who you haven't spoken to in a while. Bake a cake or cook a meal for someone. Offer to walk a neighbour's dog or volunteer for a charity. Helping others distracts attention away from yourself and being appreciated will make you feel more valued.

  • Listen to music

    Music can have a powerful impact on us. Whenever you begin to doubt yourself, listen to songs that make you feel positive about life and what you have to offer.
    Visit the music and entertainment message board for inspiration.

  • Imagine that day

    Imagine that day when you rise to a challenge without doubting yourself. Look beyond your school years and imagine all the great things that you can do. The more we start believing in ourselves, the more likely it will happen and you’ll become the person you want to be. Why not create a positive picture of yourself using the creative tool?

  • Coping with break ups

    Relationship worries can have a big impact on our confidence. When we really like somebody and they don’t like us back or if a relationship has come to an end, the first thing we might ask is, ‘What’s wrong with me?’

    You might start to question yourself - the way you look or how you behave and compare yourself to others. Nothing is wrong with you and it does not mean that you aren’t, or won’t be liked by somebody else.

    People break up for all sorts of reasons. If you stay positive and believe in yourself, somebody else will come along and like you for who you are. Read more about relationships.

    You can also find out more about boosting your confidence by using our assertiveness tips.

  • 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.


Useful information

Young Minds has some tips and useful information on self-esteem, believing in yourself and getting help
Believe in yourself

The Site has useful tips on building self-esteem
Tips on building self-esteem

V inspired has info about volunteering opportunites in your area

Be inspired by positive quotes

Find and share inspirational and positive quotes with other young people on our message boards.

Focus on the good stuff

Celebrate the small and big things you have done or achieved and get inspiration from others.

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Building confidence and self-esteem 


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