Leading and Caring for Children

Emotion Vocabulary

Vocabulary of Emotions PDF

I spent some time with a dictionary and a thesaurus gathering words for a list of emotions in English with an emphasis upon variety. I organized them in column categories and divided them into strong, medium, and light. Emotions aren’t all bad, you know.

Happiness — Caring — Depression — Inadequacy — Fear — Confusion — Hurt — Anger — Loneliness — Remorse

 

View Larger Vocabulary of Emotions PDF

Of course I don’t list every word, but I hoped to generate a comparably sized set in each category, so people in the helping professions, especially teachers of very young children, would be able to glance at a chart on the wall to scan for a word that might match what a child is feeling at the moment. I had four copies up in different places in the classroom. I used them frequently.

Feelings, not emotions, Tom

A joy of building this site has been learning from others who share their wisdom. Neil Katz of Nova Southeastern University in Florida offered the suggestion to use Feelings instead. Generally, emotions are the upwellings that we can’t really think about. Like hunger, an emotion happens; it can’t really be described or conveyed. Feelings are how we attempt to represent those emotions in words or art. That addition is essential.

The history of my interest here arises from young children whose emotions are simply out there. Emotions are to be savored: they are living life fully; they are an essential aspect of being human. The problem I see is that adults have a tendency to want to appease or soothe the emotional event as if it were a problem to solve. That’s what I have always been concerned about, not the emotions.

The vocabulary document and the Active Listening convention (which Neil suggests is better termed “reflective listening”) seemed to be a way for adults to be not only supportive of emotional awareness but also educative, so the community of care can validate, participate, and communicate. The vocabulary chart, in the context of the emotional event, helps us move indefineable towards expression. For convenience I am leaving the links the same while changing the title of the chart to Vocabulary of Emotions/Feelings.

Mad Sad Angry

Note that mad, sad, and angry are not in the body of the chart.

  • What do you do when you are mad?    Scream and yell.
  • What do you do when you are sad?     Cry.
  • What do you do when you are angry?    Strike out.

In contrast:

  • What do you do when you are bewildered or lonely or any of the other 480 words on this list?
    There isn’t an action associated with the emotion word, only attentiveness and reflection.

To me that proves that angry, sad, and mad might be avoided in favor of something more challenging.

Active Listening Convention

This document is used on the Active Listening Convention page for responding using an agenda of intentions in listening.

The document is in the public domain. Feel free to use it under the Creative Commons attribution agreement that applies to everything on this site. I understand teachers of English in other countries find it helpful. Please pass it forward. Fair Use

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