List of emotions to help you say what you want to say

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It sometimes is difficult for children or even adults to express how they feel.  The list of emotions in this blog will help you or even children to channel their thoughts correctly. 

Having the right list of emotions is an essential element of healthy emotional development for children.

Unable to express thoughts can result in misbehaving behavior and stress as children do not know how to talk about their feelings. Describing an emotion takes effort and does not happen naturally for many people. 

It is our job as parents and educators to help children list their feelings verbally.

Dont forget….THE GROWTH MINDSET KIT  aims at helping children realise how special they are 

The basic list of emotions :

Emotions are response towards something that is heard, seen, smelled and touched.

The feelings are not necessarily good nor bad, it is a reaction to our emotions which will then create a positive or negative experience.

There are 2 main types of emotions : 

  1. Dr. Paul Ekman, a psychologist at the University of California, identifies six basic lists of emotions based on facial expressions and physical movements. He calls these elements anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise.
  2. Dr. Robert Plutchick, adds an additional two states to his ‘Wheel of Emotions’ — trust and anticipation — for a total of eight basic emotions. He pairs these emotions together to get four sets of opposites – joy/sadness, surprise/anticipation, trust/disgust, and anger/fear.

Don’t forget to check out the growth-mindset kit made to help kids find their purpose

Why it’s important for your child to be able to list their feelings and emotions

This can be part of their emotional intelligence. It is their ability to acknowledge someone else’s feelings and the development of empathy.

It is a communication skill that needs to be taught to children from a young age.

When children understand list of feelings and emotions they can express their thoughts and have better relationships with other people. They perform better in school and have fewer behavioral problems.


How to build your child’s emotional vocabulary?

The best way to do this is through verbal communication. Here are some things you can try with your child :

  1. Point out the feelings your child is experiencing – “You look happy playing with the new toy.”
  2. Listen to them and help them reflect back – “I know you are angry at your brother, and I understand that, but….”
  3. Ask questions: “How are you feeling today?”, “Were you afraid of anything?”,  “Did anything upset you today?”
  4. Comment on the emotions of other things: “The dog seem to be having fun.”, “The cat must be afraid, he ran after seeing us.”
  5. Talk about TV characters: “How do you think Peter Rabbit feels now?”
  6. Encourage praises -“Wow you did so well in running today, I am so proud of you”
  7. Model this behavior -“That person crossed without seeing the road, I got so scared for a second.”
  8. Identify other people’s behavior – “Your sister is sad because she lost her favorite pencil today”.
  9. Use the feeling chart below

Download the list of emotions pdf for daily use. 

psst, don’t forget to :Download the THE GROWTH MINDSET KIT helping children to love themselves

List of feelings and emotions:


People like to feel good and happy. This can be expressed by laughing, smiling, and feeling content. 

People tend to feel happy when : 

  • Doing a fun task 
  • Feeling relaxed 
  • Feeling like in control 
  • Being close to people they care about

Here is a list of happy words :

Content, lucky, smiling, sunny, joking, excited, friendly, peace, pride, satisfied.

Sadness :

It is normal to feel sad every now and then. Feeling sad is what makes us all human.

Children express sadness in different ways. For example, throwing tantrums, hiding in the room, and avoiding eye contact.

Here are some words to express sadness :

Unhappy, awful, miserable, gloomy, down, low, gloomy, hopeless, lost, lonely. 

Sadness can be something difficult to deal with for children. 

It is ok to let your child feel sad temporarily. But we need to find ways to help them get over that sadness. Here are some tips : 

  • Distraction: You can easily sway your child’s mood by distracting them. For instance, doing an activity that they enjoy. This is particularly effective for younger children who can easily forget sadness rather quickly.
  • Doing something meaningful: Showing compassion or helping others can help a child or even an adult feel connected with others. It helps them forget about their own problems. Get your child to volunteer for a cause that they care about. 
  • Seek help: Sometimes a teenager or older children may need support to get over sadness. Never shy away to seek support. Talking to someone outside their home can help them express themselves. 

Excitement :

Most childhood will be filled with excitement. Younger children especially get excited over the simplest things. It is a feeling of joy and upheaval

Here are some words to express excitement : 

Surprise, wonderful, unexpected, shock, amaze


Fear happens when a child or an adult feels threatened. For a young child, it could be the fear of failing at school. 

Fear can often lead to anxiety if not dealt with. Sometimes fear could also be something that is just in our head and not truly out there. 

Regardless of the reason for fear, it is important to address it. 

Here are some words to describe fear :

Scared, afraid, worry, nervous, uncomfortable, panic, desperate

Here are a few tips to help children deal with fear: 

  • Confront it : Ask your child to list their fears. You can then take another paper and ask them to write the reality of things. This way your child can visualize if their fear is real or not.
    • My other favorite activity with this is get children to write down their fear and then tear the page. Reassure them their fear is gone using growth mindset statements like “I am in control of my life”.
  • Distraction from fear: The best way to deal with fear is also distracting yourself from it.  For example, by listening to music, watching a movie, etc. Encourage your child to do an activity that helps them realx. 

Angry words

This happens when a person feel that they experience injustice. 

This can also happen when a child feels threatened or unable to defend themselves. 

Anger does not always mean something negative has happened. Your child can be angered because of climate change or an event they feel is unfair.

It is a normal emotion to feel anger, but it is important that a child knows how to channel that anger. 

Anger management from a young age is important as it can shape how your child deals with difficult situations when they are adults. 

Here are some words to express anger:

irritate, frustration, rage, fury, bored, crabby, temper, displease

Here are a few ways to help manage anger in a constructive way : 

  • Take a breath: Teach your child a few breathing techniques. They can help them take a few deep breathes before reacting towards an unpleasant situation. You can even teach your child when to talk away. This is a hard thing to do but being able to master this from a young age will help them learn which battles in life are worth fighting for. 
  • Express anger correctly: Anger does not mean having to scream, shout, or punch. In fact, anger can be expressed in different forms. the most important thing is to not let anger fester internally.
    • It is always good to express anger. For instance, teach your child how to speak firmly to raise their opinion without needing to scream. Show them how they can express their thoughts respectfully. 
  • Find solutions: Encourage children to find solutions instead of being angry. For example. Greta Thunberg who is angered by how climate is changing started campaigning about the issue. Not every situation can be fixed but it is always good to find creative ways to get to a solution. Ask your child to speak to people they trust to solve their problem. It can be their family, friends or even a trusted teacher. 

Let your child know that it is normal to feel angry but it is not normal to just start screaming whenever they feel like it. 

Putting the list of emotions and feelings together:

Emotions are not something that is direct and can be easily understood. It is complicated and at times intense. 

Children can find it very challenging to express their emotions. Especially if is it anger, fear, and sadness. Sometimes a child can feel all of that at one time. 

But every emotion has a story to tell, even if it’s negative. The aim is to help your child tell that story to you. Verbalize those emotions and help them react to their feelings appropriately. 

Talk to them about different feelings and emotions so they can grow up to be emotionally healthy children. 

Finally, Don’t forget to check out the Growth mindset activities  which can be a useful tool for your child to be reminded of how unique and amazing they are.

Growth Mindset Mit

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