Emotions words for kids

Expanding your young child’s emotional vocabulary

Kylie Rymanowicz, Michigan State University Extension -

Help your child build an expansive emotional vocabulary by trying out some of these feeling words.

There are so many emotions human beings experience throughout their lives. It’s so important to teach and empower children to use words to express their emotions, but we often find ourselves repeating the same few words to young children.

By using diverse and specific words to describe feelings, you can increase your child’s emotional vocabulary and give them many words they can use to describe how they feel and express themselves.

Michigan State University Extension suggests trying out some of these feeling words with small children.

Instead of “happy,” you can say:

  • Affectionate
  • Agreeable
  • Cheerful
  • Excited
  • Friendly
  • Proud
  • Loving
  • Ecstatic
  • Fantastic
  • Delighted
  • Contented
  • Optimistic

Instead of “afraid,” you can say:

  • Uncomfortable
  • Tense
  • Anxious
  • Worried
  • Concerned
  • Timid
  • Uneasy
  • Alarmed
  • Scared
  • Frightened

Instead of “shy”, you can say:

  • Thoughtful
  • Pensive
  • Worried
  • Overwhelmed
  • Fearful
  • Peaceful
  • Quiet
  • Timid
  • Nervous
  • Calm

Instead of “angry,” you can say:

  • Embarrassed
  • Disappointed
  • Jealous
  • Impatient
  • Frustrated
  • Tense
  • Overwhelmed
  • Annoyed
  • Guilty

Instead of “sad,” you can say:

  • Sensitive
  • Uncomfortable
  • Confused
  • Miserable
  • Down
  • Glum
  • Unhappy
  • Devastated
  • Hurt
  • Powerless

Other good words to describe how children are feeling or what they are experiencing:

  • Focused
  • Bored
  • Weird
  • Sassy
  • Amused
  • Courageous
  • Eager
  • Energetic
  • Fulfilled
  • Hopeful
  • Inquisitive

Learn more about teaching children to identify and express their emotions and build their emotional vocabulary.

For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

To learn about the positive impact children and families are experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: Preparing young children to success and Preparing the future generation for success.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2015, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit https://extension.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit https://extension.msu.edu/newsletters. To contact an expert in your area, visit https://extension.msu.edu/experts, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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List of Feeling Words for Kids

Feeling words help kids describe what’s happening inside their minds and bodies. You can use a list of feeling words for kids to help explain emotions to kids or for kids to learn different words for different emotions.

Emotional student consoled by empathetic teacher


Positive Feeling Words for Kids

Positive emotions are the ones that make you feel really good or are useful. Each word can have a slightly different meaning to suit your exact mood. Many feeling words are adjectives you can use to describe a person.

Happy Feeling Words

The word happy means a feeling of enjoyment or pleasure. It’s how you might feel when you open a Christmas present you really wanted or get to spend the day with your best friend.

  • bubbly
  • cheerful
  • content
  • delighted
  • ecstatic
  • glad
  • joyful
  • loved
  • merry
  • peaceful
  • pleased
  • satisfied
  • silly
  • terrific
  • wonderful

Powerful Feeling Words

Feeling powerful means to feel like you have a lot of strength or authority. You might feel powerful when you win a game or are able to pick up your dog.

  • ambitious
  • bold
  • brave
  • certain
  • courageous
  • determined
  • empowered
  • mighty
  • strong
  • superhuman
  • sure

Energized Feeling Words

When you feel energized, you feel like you have the ability to do things. You might feel energized to learn about something really cool or to redecorate your room.

  • creative
  • curious
  • empowered
  • focused
  • inspired
  • invigorated
  • renewed
  • stimulated
  • strengthened
  • vibrant

Negative Feeling Words for Kids

Negative emotions are the ones that make you feel not so good or aren’t very helpful. Everyone experiences these emotions, you can’t avoid them, but you can learn to feel them and let them go.

Sad Feeling Words

Feeling sad about something means being unhappy about it in a way that makes you feel more down than frustrated or angry. You might be sad if you have to move to a new town or if your pet dies.

  • blue
  • depressed
  • disappointed
  • down
  • gloomy
  • heartbroken
  • hopeless
  • miserable
  • unhappy
  • upset

Mad Feeling Words

When you feel mad you are very unhappy about something and it might make you want to scream. You might feel mad when your brother breaks your favorite toy or your mom makes you turn off your video game before you finish the level.

  • angry
  • annoyed
  • crabby
  • enraged
  • frustrated
  • furious
  • grouchy
  • grumpy
  • infuriated
  • irritated


Confused Feeling Words

When you are confused you don’t understand something or can’t think clearly. You might be confused about a new math problem or about why your friend is being mean to you.

  • doubtful
  • dumbfounded
  • indecisive
  • jumbled
  • mixed-up
  • perplexed
  • tense
  • uncertain
  • unsure

Other Feeling Words that Might Seem Negative

There are lots of other feeling words that might better describe the emotion you have.

  • afraid
  • ashamed
  • bored
  • caring
  • curious
  • embarrassed
  • guilty
  • jealous
  • quiet
  • scared
  • shy

Printable List of Feeling Words for Kids

This free feeling words with faces chart features six different categories of common feelings for kids. There’s also a list of other feelings that might not fit in these categories. Click on the image of the list to download and print it using this handy guide for troubleshooting.

View & Download PDF


Name Your Feelings

It’s important for kids to describe and express emotions or feelings with words so friends and adults can help them deal with these feelings. What word best describes how you are feeling right now?

Staff Editor

  • elementary school
  • chart

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Children's Dictionary of Emotions - Definition of Emotions for Children

When a bright event occurs in life, we emotionally react to it. Every person is sad, funny, ashamed. How to explain to a child what emotions are?

Our vivid sensations are called emotions. There are quite a few of them. It is important to be able to distinguish them from each other: this helps to know oneself, the inner world of parents and friends, to make speech beautiful, expressive.

Differences between emotions and feelings:

  • feelings often last much longer;
  • emotions are superficial: quickly arise, quickly disappear;
  • feelings are specific, emotions are vague: "I'm scared" (emotion), "I'm afraid of her" (feeling).

Feeling - a set of complex emotions (for example, love consists of interest, joy, etc.)

What a child of senior preschool and primary school age should be able to:

  • quickly distinguish emotions from each other;
  • understand the emotional state of the interlocutor;
  • describe one's own mood;
  • choose suitable epithets to describe life situations.

Let's see what emotions exist and how they manifest.


This positive emotion is familiar to everyone: for example, people experience it when they win a competition, receive a long-awaited gift, hear praise.

The mood rises sharply, we begin to think optimistically: the future seems beautiful, and the world around us is benevolent.

Joy manifests itself in the form of a broad smile, light laughter.


Sadness is a negative emotion that we encounter during unpleasant moments of life; the opposite of joy.

We feel sad when we lose, when our plans are violated. Emotion shows that a person's expectations have not materialized into reality.

Sadness also appears when we read sad books or watch movies where something sad happens to the main characters.

Sadness is a slight despondency that does not last very long. The look goes out, the smile leaves the face, but later everything returns to normal.


Violent, brightly colored negative emotion that can be beneficial - anger helps to start acting.

People get angry when something wrong, unfair from their point of view occurs on the path of life. For example, in a class, a quiet and calm classmate is offended, who does not wish harm to anyone - such a situation can cause the observer to become angry at the offenders.

Anger also signals that the surrounding reality does not allow one to achieve goals, to feel free and comfortable. A stranger got rude on the subway and stepped on his foot? This is one of the cases where anger is natural.

When angry, a person frowns, purses his lips, can look at one point. The opposite of anger is calmness, acceptance.


Fear is considered to be an evil, unpleasant and destructive emotion for a person, although it can save us from troubles.

This emotion is born when a person realizes that something bad is about to happen. The future threat is not always real, sometimes we ourselves come up with troubles that could happen in the future.

Fear makes our body muster all the strength to fight an obstacle: the heart beats loudly, the body tenses up, the skin turns red or pale.

When the human brain realizes that the threat has passed or turned out to be fictitious, peace returns, the normal state. The opposite of fear is a feeling of complete security.


This is a pleasant, uplifting emotion. It arises when we encounter the beautiful, the unique, the rare.

For example, people experience admiration when visiting museums, art galleries. We admire the beauty, grandeur of nature, the complex and mysterious structure of the cosmos.

However, others can also cause this emotion - we like to watch talented people, their work (dance, drawing), follow scientists, heroes, researchers.

Simple things (a fashionable dress, a cute toy) also become an object of admiration. It all depends on the person who is watching what is happening, on his taste.

The opposite emotion of admiration is disgust, contempt.

How does it manifest itself? A person can smile, raise his eyebrows, slightly round his eyes.

In the online course "Emotions for Children" we will introduce the child to the variety of human feelings and emotions, teach them to assess the emotional state of the interlocutor and correctly express their own emotions. The course is designed in the format of an interactive story game and is designed for children 7-13 years old.


A very unpleasant, internally destructive emotion, felt as heaviness or burning (people who are ashamed often blush from this experience).

Shame arises when we do ugly or ridiculous things in public. The presence of witnesses is the basis for the emergence of shame. For example, a person will be ashamed of the fact that he cursed loudly in a public place (and then calmed down and regretted it) or slipped and fell into a puddle in front of everyone.

Emotion is born when behavior does not correspond to the ideal - personal or other people's. The opposite emotion is superiority, looseness.


Negative emotion that has much in common with disappointment. Its opposite is a slight feeling of forgiveness.

We are offended by a person when he does not live up to our expectations: for example, the betrayal of a best friend causes resentment, because we expect support and loyalty from loved ones. Feeling empty, confused.

You can also meet with resentment when faced with injustice, when the situation cannot be corrected: the student has been preparing for participation in the school Olympiad for a long time, dreamed of winning, showing knowledge, but lost. In the soul, resentment accumulates at oneself, at unfortunate circumstances.

How is resentment manifested? The lip moves forward a little, the person hides his eyes.


When we meet something new, we automatically show a positive emotion called interest: we stop looking at the object of interest, raise our eyebrows, open our mouth.

People love information: remember how you pay attention to your friends' new clothes, watch bloggers making weird videos.

A person is attracted by unusual things, he hurries to study them, get to know them better and understand: what if knowledge will help in the future? Any fact can be useful.

We may be interested in specific activities, phenomena, people (this is how hobbies, new friends appear). Interest makes you search, reflect, develop intellect and imagination.

The opposite emotion of interest is boredom.


Surprise is considered an unusual emotion: it can be both positive and negative.

Indeed, the things that surround us can pleasantly surprise us, and sometimes we experience surprise combined with disappointment or disgust.

For example, the courage of a person who saved a child during a fire, as well as the dishonesty of a thief who stole other people's things, can surprise.

How to recognize this emotion? The man raises his eyebrows, lips and eyes round.

Indifference is the exact opposite of surprise.


When we strongly dislike something, we make faces and squint. Wrinkles appear around the mouth and eyes. This is disgust.

One can feel disgust towards real objects: such an emotion will be caused by spoiled food, mold.

They also feel disgust towards bad people who do terrible things (for example, criminals).

Why does disgust appear? This is how the brain reacts to things that can harm: cruel people, surfaces with harmful microbes, etc.

Delight, pleasure are emotions opposite to disgust.


This emotion is externally manifested through pursed lips and a slightly slow look.

Unlike disgust, contempt can only be felt for people and their actions. Tastes, smells, objects are not included here.

Everyone has an idea in their head about what is good and what is bad. Contempt appears when a person does not correspond to our ideas about what is good and right. Sometimes this emotion helps us feel better than others.

Admiration and respect are emotions directly opposite to contempt.


Causes a heavy sensation in the chest, intense gaze.

A person feels guilty when he realizes that the perfect deed was bad, wrong.

This is a state in which we punish ourselves for insults, insults of loved ones. Perhaps no one we know condemns us, but we feel that we need to ask for forgiveness.

The emotion of rightness, confidence is opposed to guilt.

Suffering, grief

Grief is an emotion that brings a huge amount of mental pain. We suffer when a beloved pet dies, a loved one dies.

In moments of grief, people cry, sob, refuse to have fun. Pay attention only to the unpleasant event that caused the suffering.

This is a complex process: sometimes the grief does not disappear for a long time.

A completely different emotion is the feeling of happiness, success, absolute satisfaction.

. Life becomes more pleasant, you enjoy spending time waiting.

Sound familiar? This emotion is called anticipation: nothing happened, but you planned a good event and imagine what it will be like.

A person who is in anticipation becomes more energetic, smiles more often; the opposite of anticipation is hopelessness.


A positive emotion that makes us smile, laugh, feel short-term happiness.

Occurs when a person achieves a goal (not even a very important one) — you can get pleasure from a portion of ice cream, buying a gadget.

Unlike joy, pleasure is not a deep emotion. It's easier to get, but it disappears quickly. Joy pleases with its presence much longer.

Moreover, pleasure is more often associated with sensations that we receive with the help of the senses: for example, a pleasant smell, a feeling of coolness on a hot day, a soft pillow, etc.

The opposite is inconvenience, suffering.


This is an unpleasant emotion that occurs when contacting people, the outside world. Its opposite is joy.

When upset, the corners of the lips go down, the person looks sad.

Disappointment is born from our dissatisfaction: you and your friends dreamed of going to a cafe, but when you arrived, it turned out that it was already closed.

The emotion of grief does not torment us for a long time: a person is upset, but quickly realizes that the problem is not very serious. Grief is not such a painful emotion as grief, sadness.


Anger is an emotion directed at a person or phenomenon. A state of irritation, rage, hostility. The opposite is kindness, calmness.

When angry, people frown, cannot sit still, speak loudly.

People feel angry during a violent fight, wanting to hit the opponent; at the moment of humiliation, insult.

You can be angry with yourself: this is how a person shows that he is dissatisfied. For example, a broken leg is angry with himself for inattention and frivolity.


Every person has a sense of dignity. It is a feeling of value: "I exist, I deserve love and respect, my thoughts and desires have meaning."

When we are in a group (class, group of friends, family), people can put us down. They utter words that make you think: what if I'm bad, stupid, ugly, inept?

At the moment of humiliation, a person hides his gaze, may blush. Sometimes behavior changes: for example, after an evil mockery, a sociable classmate becomes quiet, withdrawn.

Emotion, the opposite of humiliation - veneration, support.


Fear appears when an unexpected and at the same time unpleasant situation arises; is the antonym of peace.

The man started to cross the road, but did not notice the car coming around the corner. I had to react quickly so as not to get under the wheels. The threat to life caused a strong fright.

Outwardly, fright manifests itself as follows: the heart beats faster, arms and legs may tremble, eyes become round, the person shudders.


Complicated emotion that destroys good mood and confidence. The opposite of friendliness.

Occurs when we compare ourselves with other people: for example, a classmate seems smarter and more beautiful. We regret that we do not have the same sharp mind, long hair.

Envy causes heaviness in the soul: a frown, lack of a smile. An envious person lives with pain, does not know how to get rid of it.

Emotion is often used for the right purposes — envy makes one develop, learn. But anger towards a person whom we envy will not bring any benefit.

Emotion recognition games

You need to be able to recognize other people's emotions, correctly assess the behavior of others. There are many games and exercises to practice the skill.


The most popular game for developing the emotional intelligence of a child. You can play alone or in a group.

The host thinks of an emotion, depicts it with the help of facial expressions, gestures, posture. The task of the participants is to name the emotion and repeat it. Another option is for participants to guess the emotion, but portray the opposite.

“Name an emotion”

Open photos of people, cartoon characters, fairy tales, games on the big screen. The child needs to describe what emotions each of them experiences.

Picture books are helpful: as you read aloud, pay attention to the illustrations: "How does the character feel and why?" An additional exercise makes the plot more interesting, develops imagination.


Make a list of situations that can cause conflicting emotions, positive and negative.

The task of the players is to tell what emotions visit them.

For example: “Imagine that you were going to wish your friend a happy birthday, but found out that he decided not to invite you to the party”, “Imagine that your jacket was torn at school because they wanted to harm”.

"Tell me about yourself"

The players stand in a circle. The host stands in the center with the ball, chooses a participant, throws the ball to him, asks the question: “What makes you happy?”, “What makes you angry?” The participant thinks, answers the question, passes the ball to another.

The game develops the skill of recognizing emotions, introspection. Participants react quickly, observe the emotional state of other players.

Theoretical training is not enough to quickly understand the shades of human emotions. Regular training in the form of a game, practical exercises are required. The emotionality of parents helps the child to begin to navigate in the world of emotions. It is necessary to discuss emotional responses to life events, to take time to discuss feelings and emotions.

Emotional intelligence for children

We introduce children to the types of emotions, how to manage them and how to show themselves in teamwork, through situational games

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Emotions for children - we study feelings and emotions with children simply and visually

We will introduce the child to the variety of human emotions, teach them to express their feelings and recognize the emotions of other people through exciting story games

Try for free

Try for free

Why should a child study emotions?

Better understand yourself

It is sometimes difficult for a child to even realize, and even more so to formulate what he wants now, what he feels, why he suddenly became uncomfortable. And most importantly, understand what to do with it. Knowing the emotion "in the face", the child will not be at a loss in front of her.

Manage your emotions

Emotions arise uncontrollably, but how to dispose of them is up to us. Even a brave person can be frightened, but at the same time one will cry and hide, while the other will look fear in the face and defeat it. And this is exactly what you should learn from childhood - otherwise you won’t become successful.

Communicate more effectively with people

For productive communication, it is important to be able not only to recognize the emotions of others, but also to correctly express your own. Many will prefer to deal with a calm, friendly interlocutor, and not with a closed beech or a person who expresses his feelings too violently.

Protect yourself from manipulation

Each of us hides our true emotions in some situations. Sometimes it's a matter of etiquette. But sometimes people can pretend to benefit at our expense and even harm us on purpose. This is where basic knowledge of human emotions comes in handy.

What should a child know about emotions?

What are emotions and how they arise

The child should learn that emotions are a reaction to what happens to him. They help us to be aware of our attitudes to people and events, regulate behavior and better understand others. Emotions can arise spontaneously, but there is no need to be afraid of this - they can and should be controlled.

How to visually distinguish one or another emotion

People don't often talk about their feelings and emotions directly. How do you know if a person is scared or sad? Is he happy or nervous? Surprised or interested? Is he sincere? You can distinguish the emotions of other people based on their facial expressions, facial expressions, actions.

How to control your own emotions

Those who do not know how to cope with their emotions are perceived as ill-bred and unpleasant people. Children are usually forgiven for inappropriate expressions of emotions, but the sooner the child learns to take control of them, the better he will get along with people and the more he will achieve in the future.

How to introduce a child to emotions and feelings?

Be sincere with children

Parents who believe that the manifestation of emotions is a weakness and it is better to ignore them altogether will grow up unhappy, socially unadapted children. Feel free to express your feelings in front of a child: angry, laughing out loud, sad. Let him understand that different emotions are normal.

Draw the child's attention to his emotions

If you see that the child, for example, is sad, turn to him: “You are sad. What happened? And what do you think to do with it? It is important that he understands: he will not be punished for what he feels, you are ready to analyze his feelings with him - and you will always tell you how to express them, what to direct them to.

Expand your child's emotional vocabulary

Psychologists have noticed a connection between emotional vocabulary and communication and introspection skills. Use at home more synonyms for words denoting sensations. Address the shades of emotions. For example, the general “evil” may mean “irritated”, “angry”.

Read and analyze literature together

The ability to empathize is formed when a person imagines himself in the place of another. Invite the child to imagine how he would feel if he were in the place of one or another literary hero. What would you do with these emotions? Would you express them or hide them? How would you proceed from them?

Learning emotions with children in an interactive

game format

Take a Free Trial Lesson

Explore the interactive play activities your child will have with Umnaziah's Introducing Emotions course.


The structure of the course "Emotions for children"


Each lesson is dedicated to one of the situations or emotions. The theory for the lesson is presented in the format of short stories and interactive tasks designed for children aged 6-13.


Each lesson contains 5-7 tasks to consolidate the material covered. All tasks have a plot and bright illustrations or are presented in the form of a game.


The child will be able to take the course as many times as he needs. You buy the course once and can return to it even after 5 years.


The course ends with an interactive quiz game, for the successful completion of which the child receives a certificate. You will be confident in his knowledge!

What topics do we study in the course "Emotions for Children"?

Galaxy of Emotions

Joy and Sadness

Fear and Anger

Interest and Surprise

Trust and Aversion

Complex emotions

What is empathy?

Dating Cloak

Control helmet

Find yourself

Start training

Examples of tasks for the study of emotions

Explore the other steps of the Emotional Intelligence for Kids course

"Introducing Emotions" is the first of four steps in the Emotional Intelligence course for children from Umnaziah. See what topics our students are studying in other levels.

Getting to know emotions

In this course, we will introduce the child to the spectrum of human emotions, try to understand their own feelings, and learn to recognize and recognize the emotions of others. How are curiosity and surprise related? Is it possible to stop worrying at the blackboard and is fear so terrible?

Personality types

The main objective of this course is to show the child the diversity of human characters. We are all different in some ways, but similar in some ways. Why do some guys easily make new acquaintances, while others are reluctant to make contact, and how do different people make decisions?



The course is designed for children 9-13 years old and introduces the child to the basic principles of teamwork, teaches to identify and take into account the strengths of each team member and give constructive

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