Sakura is the only child of Mebuki and Kizashi Haruno. She had an ordinary childhood, raised by her parents without any serious tragedy or complication. When she entered Konoha's Ninja Academy, some of the girls in her class started picking on her because of her large forehead. Sakura tried to combat their teasing by hiding her forehead with her bangs, but this proved to the other girls that it bothered her and caused them to tease her even more. Ino Yamanaka, one of her classmates, saw this, defended Sakura from her bullies, and encouraged her to embrace her forehead rather than hide it.
Over the following years, Ino's guidance and friendship helped Sakura become comfortable with herself and develop into her own person. Though she felt indebted to Ino for helping her, Sakura began to feel that she was living in Ino's shadow when she, instead, wanted to be Ino's equal. At some point after she entered in the Academy, Sakura met Sasuke Uchiha and she developed a crush on him. When she told her friends, she was surprised to learn how popular Sasuke was with the girls. Sakura heard a rumour of Sasuke being attracted to girls with long hair and she began letting her hair grow to get his attention. A couple of years later, when she learned Ino had a crush on Sasuke, Sakura ended their friendship so that they could compete for Sasuke's love, thus beginning a bitter rivalry between them. In the anime, Sakura approached Ino, telling her of her liking towards Sasuke. Ino took it to end their friendship, starting their dislike towards each other in the beginning of the series. When Sakura first attempted to confess to Sasuke, he rejected her because he didn't know her and she fled out of frustration and embarrassment. She vented her displeasure for his rejection by punching a tree and causing her Inner Sakura to be born.