Interpersonal Intelligence in Kids: What It Is and How It Develops

Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand the emotions and actions of others. It's also the ability to communicate effectively with others.
Interpersonal Intelligence in Kids: What It Is and How It Develops

Last update: 03 August, 2018

Interpersonal intelligence in children is a very special skill. Although most of us are born with it, very few maintain it in adulthood. 

Therefore, we want to show you how to develop interpersonal intelligence in children so they always have it.

What Is Interpersonal Intelligence in Children?

Interpersonal intelligence is one of the skills included in Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple IntelligencesIt’s a model of classifying intelligences that has made a huge impact on education. It has also created paths for children with specific talents in different fields.

Interpersonal intelligence is about the ability to understand the emotions and behaviors of others. It’s also about effectively communicating with everyone you talk to.

Although it might not seem as important as mathematical or logical intelligence, the quality of life of people with interpersonal intelligence is usually much better than those who don’t develop it.

“Interpersonal intelligence is a very special skill. Many children have a considerable amount of it during childhood.”

When we were children, many of us were sensitive to the emotions and situations of the people in our lives. We were able to notice our parents’ or siblings’ mood by only interacting a little bit. This is a skill that many adults have completely lost.

To some, that might not sound true. However, kids’ brains during childhood are more able to see the world around them and learn about it. This is scientifically proven. It’s a biological aspect that’s very important for development.

Parents help their children develop interpersonal intelligence.

Also, as a child, we have confidence to make social connections. This is a characteristic that many successful people have, like politicians, celebrities, CEO’s, etc.

Interpersonal Intelligence Can Determine Your Child’s Success in Adulthood

Education is a fundamental factor in the development of every child, but it’s not the only indicator of success. Although it’s hard to accept, education doesn’t guarantee professional success. However, having both a good education and great people skills can make a huge difference in a person’s life.

Knowing what to say at certain times can be the determining factor of getting the job you want, the partner of your dreams, or becoming a leader. However, a low capacity for interpersonal communication can stop you from achieving any of that.

This might be a tough concept for some people to grasp. However, it’s easy to see that although intelligence is important, it isn’t worth anything if you don’t have good interpersonal skills. 

The good news is that it’s possible to develop great people skills at any age. For now, we’ll just cover its development during childhood.

Benefits of Interpersonal Intelligence

In daily life, interpersonal intelligence allows people to:

  • Solve conflicts with others. Even children are able to do this.
  • Maintain a more professional image in everything they do. This doesn’t mean they’re smarter than others. It means they can confidently use all of their skills to work with others, appreciate the knowledge of others, and work well in group settings or on projects.
  • They can understand other people’s experiences. They can feel real happiness for others’ success or build solidarity.
  • People with high interpersonal intelligence make good bosses. They know exactly what to say to employees, without embarrassing them or hurting their self-esteem.
  • Their understanding of others makes them good counselors.

Interpersonal intelligence isn’t just the ability to make friends. It’s the characteristic that makes other people want to be friends with us. People with strong interpersonal intelligence can brighten anyone’s day. Their presence is important to their bosses, since it’s a value that’s hard to find. It opens a lot of opportunities in different areas.

Knowing all of this, you may want to know how to grow emotional intelligence in children so you can add it to your child-raising approach.

How to Encourage the Development of Interpersonal Intelligence in Children

Growing interpersonal intelligence in children, as well as maintaining it, is based on activities that give your child different types of interaction. All emotional experiences, whether happy, sad, or scary, can stay in children’s minds forever.

This helps children’s brains code many of the behaviors that they’ll have throughout their life. This happens even if they don’t remember the event.

Kids develop interpersonal intelligence while playing.

The good news is that a child’s brain is neutral in terms of learning and structuring the information it receives at this stage. Children can learn to be assertive, confident, honest, etc. These traits will remain in adulthood.

To support this skill in children, here are some activities you can do:

  • Theater and plays. Participating in a show, whether at school or at home, helps develop the flexibility of attitudes. This will help them learn different responses to help them learn to interact socially.
  • Play pretend. Playing pretend or make-believe is a fun way to enhance their people skills. They can pretend to be a family member or their favorite characters.
  • Make new friends. Camps, sports, and safe social activities are great opportunities to meet new people. This is a great way for your child to learn to see things from other points of view. They can also learn different rules to get along with people at school or at home.

The Key to Stimulating Interpersonal Skills in Kids

Interpersonal intelligence can develop in more ways than just the ones we mentioned. The key is to expose children to new interactions and experiences. These are recorded in their mind, since children have enormous learning capacities.

However, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to develop this skill as an adult. For example, just like learning a second language, it depends a lot on the age they start learning. Adults can learn it too, but it may take longer or they may need to learn in different ways.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Castelló, A., & Autet, M. C. (2011). Inteligencia interpersonal: conceptos clave. Revista electrónica interuniversitaria de formación del profesorado, 14(3), 23-35.
  • Gardner, H. (1990). La Teoría de las Inteligencias Múltiples de Gardner.
  • Leal, A., & TUTORIAL, O. Y. A. (2011). La inteligencia emocional. Digital Innovacion y experiencias educativas, 39.
  • Trujillo, M., & Rivas, L. (2005). Orígenes, evolución  y modelos de inteligencia emocional. INNOVAR, Revista de Ciencias Administrativas y Sociales. Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
  • Velasco Bernal, J. J. (2016). LA INTELIGENCIA EMOCIONAL. Industrial Data.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.