Self-Esteem and Emotional Intelligence

What is Self- Esteem?

Self-Esteem is essential a judgement of one’s own worth. It is your own judgement on your skills and abilities both emotional and physical. Sometimes also referred to as self-respect. We want to build self-esteem to help individuals thrive.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

‘Emotional Intelligence’ is a term coined by Peter Salavoy and John Mayer. It may seem obvious but the term relates to our own intelligence about our emotions and others. So the key areas we look at when referring to emotional intelligence are:

  • recognising, understanding and  managing our own emotions.
  • rocognising, understanding and influencing the emotions of others. 

The term has over the last few years been heavily researched in business models, with emotional intelligence being used to influence staff feelings – improving motivation and therefore output.

What role do Self-Esteem and Emotional-Intelligence play in Forest Schools?

Forest School offers a variety of different activities and opportunities for attendees to build self-esteem and and develop their emotional-intelligence. You often find that forest school offers those with low self-esteem an opportunity to shine. Below you will find some examples of where Self-Esteem and Emotional-Intelligence are grown:

New Champions: Often you may find that when you enter the unfamiliar environment of a forest new individuals start to excel. Those who don’t achieve well in the classroom often thrive in the outdoor environment. It’s important to use these opportunities to help the new champions grow in self-esteem. It is also an opportunity for them to learn about the emotions related with success. For those who usually thrive in the classroom, this can be an opportunity for them to develop emotional intelligence regarding; not getting something straight away, resilience, asking for help and accepting help from their peers. 

Failing: This may seem like an odd way to develop self-esteem and emotional-intelligence, however it is an ideal opportunity. When you teach skills for the first time to a group of individuals you may find that initially they fail at the skill and may need correction, reteaching and plenty of practice. The free flow and lack of time restraints allows individuals to develop skills in a calm/un-pressured environment. Eventually, they will master the skill.

With the initial failure you will help to build the individuals resilience and determination, especially by encouraging the Forest School nurturing and low pressure environment. When they finally achieve that ‘got it’ moment, their self-esteem will be boosted. It can often help peoples esteem grow even further if you get them to teach their mastered skill to new people.

Making Choices: As discussed before, using open ended opportunities/tasks, allows clients to make their own choices. Allowing clients to choose how they complete a task can be very beneficial for self-esteem. As the individual can choose how to complete the task they can use their own areas of strength, leading to a positive outcome.

Active Examples: 

Below you will find a few examples I have used to build self-esteem:

  • Step by step: when learning new activities I have often found that modelling, producing a good/perfect example and then just leaving the children to it can be very demotivating. I have found that breaking down activities into small steps can really help. This has been particularly successful when creating woodland crafts, e.g. how to make a start in small steps.
  • The Praise Circle: I have found that giving clients a chance to positively review others performance at the end of the session to be very effective at building self-esteem. You do however have to ensure everyone gets a positive praise, I have achieved this by writing all clients names onto individual stones and then they pick out the name before giving positive praise.