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Emotional Intelligence, a critical ingredient for our children’s development

02 March 2021

This article explores the importance of measuring and developing in children.

Nelson Mandela once said:

"Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth who care for and protect our people."

(Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, 2015).

With the future of a country in our youth's hands, we would want them to reach success in all areas of their lives. Consequently, the onus lies with today's adults to help our youth acquire the necessary skills to assist them. Emotional intelligence is one such skill set that has been identified as critical in the 21st century (Nelson et al., 2017). It is known as a set of emotional and social skills that influences the way people perceive and express themselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way (JVR Psychometrics, 2020a; MHS, 2011). This skill set is essential for youth to cope in challenging times and flourish and reach their full potential, socially and academically (Magnano et al., 2016).

On an individual and systemic level, we can help develop and raise the emotional intelligence of future generations by creating a starting point from where an individual can improve and utilise their skill set, and by creating awareness of the importance of EI in institutions.

Creating a starting point for development

The Emotional Quotient Inventory Youth (EQ-i Youth) is a psychometric assessment that can help us create a starting point from where the development of an emotional intelligence skill set can be put into motion. It is an assessment that was specifically developed to measure children and adolescents' emotional and social functioning. This assessment is also normed with South African children and adolescents, which means this assessment is available and appropriate for our local context (JVR Psychometrics, 2020a).

Professionals can use the EQ-i Youth to identify an individual's emotional strengths and developmental areas. By working together with parents and schools, the assessment can be rolled out on an individual, school, or community level as the starting point for understanding but, also for developing emotional intelligence from a young age (JVR Psychometrics, 2020a; Darling-Hammond et al., 2019). Previous research conducted by JVR confirmed a significant increase in various EI scores after participating in an intervention with a duration of 6- to 9-months. The research proved that this important skill set can be developed through interventions, as measured by this EI model (JVR Psychometrics 2020b).

The importance of emotional intelligence

There are many points of discussion that emphasise the role that emotional intelligence can play in our youth's lives, which contributes to its importance. One of these points is the relationship between emotional intelligence and academic achievement, which JVR is excited to confirm from recent research. This relationship indicates that individuals with a higher emotional intelligence tend to also perform better in terms of academic achievement (Chew et al., 2013; MacCann et al., 2020). We would also like to explain additional aspects that emphasise EI’s role and contribute to its importance by referring to the model provided in Figure 1 below. This model was developed based on insights received from texts included in Bar-On et al. (2007).

Figure 1. Model representing the importance of emotional intelligence in the education realm.

The model portrays that today's children and youth are confronted with many challenges that are continually evolving (e.g. novel cultural, world, and life issues). There is the potential that these challenges may negatively impact these youngsters' psychosocial well-being and educational attainment. A learner's development and learning ability and their relationships can also affect this psychosocial well-being and educational attainment. Consequently, this impact can either be favourable or unfavourable, i.e. supporting success, or not (Bar-On et al., 2007).

However, emotional intelligence is likely to mitigate the challenges youth are likely to face, enhances their development and learning ability, or influences their relationships. Relationships are a point of importance as they often form the foundation of learning, where complex interpersonal interactions can impact how well a student adjusts or performs. Therefore, the learning and development of emotional intelligence are likely to positively impact the well-being and educational attainment of an individual through these mentioned channels. Through these experiences, emotional intelligence facilitates resilience; being able to cope better with emotional demands and stressful encounters buffers one to future effects and experiences resulting from an adverse event (Bar-On et al., 2007; Magnano et al., 2016).

Consequently, for a learner to become a productive adult and achieve success in school and life, we must focus on the development of their emotional and social skills along with their academic work. The development should especially occur in an environment that children and youth experience as safe and supportive for learning. Such an environment enhances educational outcomes and social-emotional learning, so any campaign or intervention should focus on creating a likewise environment (Bar-On et al., 2007).


Many interventions, such as awareness creation campaigns and EI workshops are developed due to EI's importance and the role that it could play (Clarke et al., 2015). Therefore, while considering the impact that EI could have in the lives of children and youth, we developed the EQ-i Youth to create a point of departure for interventions and bring potential development for those who need it most. We hope that many professionals will utilise it to its full potential and help strengthen the foundation of our future, our youth.

For more information about the EQ-i Youth, please contact

You can also read more about the intervention research study mentioned in the article here.

If you would like to get certified to use the EQ-i Youth, please register here.

*Note that EQ-i 2.0 certified users do not have to be EQ-i Youth certified to access the assessment.

Reference list

Bar-On, R., Maree, K., & Elias, M. (2006). Educating people to be emotionally intelligent. Heinemann Publishers (Pty) Ltd.

Chew, B. H., Zain, A. M., & Hassan, F. (2013). Emotional intelligence and academic performance in first and final year medical students: a cross-sectional study. BMC Medical Education, 13(1), 1-10.

Clarke, A.M., Morreale, S., Field, C.A., Hussein, Y., & Barry, M.M. (2015). What works in enhancing social and emotional skills development during childhood and adolescence? A review of the evidence on the effectiveness of school-based and out-of-school programmes in the UK. World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion Research, National University of Ireland Galway.

Darling-Hammond, L., Flook, L., Cook-Harvey, C., Barron, B., & Osher, D. (2019). Implications for educational practice of the science of learning and development. Applied Developmental Science, 24(2), 97-140. /10.1080/10888691.2018.1537791

JVR Psychometrics (2020). Emotional Quotient Inventory: Youth technical manual. JVR Psychometrics (Pty) Ltd & Multi-Health Systems, Inc.

JVR Psychometrics (2020b). EQ-i 2.0 pre- and post-intervention analysis. [Unpublished client research report]. JVR Psychometrics.

MacCann, C., Jiang, Y., Brown, L. E. R., Double, K. S., Bucich, M., & Minbashian, A. (2020). Emotional intelligence predicts academic performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 146(2), 150–186. /10.1037/bul0000219

Magnano, P., Craparo, G., & Paolillo, A. (2016). Resilience and emotional intelligence: Which role in achievement motivation. International Journal of Psychological Research, 9(1), 9-20. /pdf/ijpr/v9n1/v9n1a02.pdf

Multi-Health Systems (MHS). (2011). Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0: User's handbook. Multi-Health Systems, Inc.

Nelson, D., Low, G., & Hammett, R. (2017). Twenty-first-century skills for achieving education, life, work success. American Journal of Educational Research, 5, 197-206.

Nelson Mandela Children's Fund. (2015, August 12). Nelson Mandela quotes about children. /news/nelson-mandela-quotes-about-children#


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