Free Printable Emotions Chart for Kids
At Uplift Kids, we help children learn how to navigate big emotions using psychological research, the world’s wisdom traditions, and mindfulness. To download the free emotions chart for kids, click the image above or click here.
We’d like to walk you through this emotions chart, as we spent a lot of time optimizing the design and vibes so that it can be as helpful as possible.
Note that the chart is inspired by many researchers (cited below), including the terrific work of Marc Brackett, a psychological researcher at Yale University. Brackett and his team have developed a way to visualize emotional intensity, and their insights are worth exploring in full. We recommend his excellent and academically grounded book for grownups, Permission to Feel.
Emotions Chart Overview
More Right = More Intense
As you can see, the more to the right the emotion is on the chart, the higher the intensity. Pleasant becomes silly, and silly becomes energetic. Embarrassed becomes angry, and angry becomes stressed.
This gradation helps your kid understand how to name increasing intensity and ideally catch themselves before they reach an emotional outburst. Even if the outburst happens (and they will!), the chart can help your kid notice a progression that led to it.
Higher = More Pleasant
The higher the emotions are on the chart, the more pleasant they tend to be. Fine becomes curious, and curious becomes awe. Silly becomes happy, and happy becomes connected.
By contrast, the lower the emotions are on the chart, the less pleasant they tend to be. In this case, disappointed becomes sad, and sad becomes lonely. Annoyed becomes embarrassed, and embarrassed becomes anxious.
It’s useful to point out that unpleasant emotions aren’t necessarily “bad.” They have their own wisdom. Boredom is unpleasant, for instance, but it helps us make space for creativity. Frustration is unpleasant, but it clarifies what we care about. We can take wisdom from every emotion.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel pleasant emotions more often. By learning to name emotions, kids develop the vocabulary to intentionally nurture pleasant emotions more often in their life.
We also thought about how each emotion has a direct opposite listed diagonally from it on the chart (sad/happy, grateful/jealous, etc.).
Here are few examples:
As kids learn to name each emotion and its opposite, they develop the capacity to intentionally choose actions that nurture more of the emotion they want to feel. For instance, if a kid is feeling jealous, it might be the exact sign they need to practice naming things that they are grateful for.
By seeing emotions in context, kids (and adults!) learn how to connect feelings in the body with labels in the mind, making emotions easier to manage.
Of course, if you’re looking to use an emotions chart, you might have additional questions.
Here are few common questions and our answers.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It’s a skill that improves a child’s wellbeing as they learn to navigate big emotions and notice the emotions of their friends and family members.
When kids develop emotional intelligence, they’re better equipped to navigate social interactions, handle stress, and communicate effectively.
Why Explore Emotional Intelligence With Kids?
Exploring emotional intelligence to children not only benefits their personal development but also for their future success in various aspects of life. Research has shown that children with high emotional intelligence tend to have better relationships, academic performance, and mental health. When we explore emotions with kids, we empower them with essential life skills.
As Matthew D. Lieberman, researcher and professor of psychology at UCLA, says, “When you put feelings into words, you’re activating this prefrontal region and seeing a reduced response in the amygdala. In the same way you hit the brake when you’re driving when you see a yellow light — when you put feelings into words you seem to be hitting the brakes on your emotional responses. As a result, a person may feel less angry or less sad.”
What Are the Benefits of an Emotions Chart for Kids?
Using an emotions chart is an effective, interactive, and visual way to teach kids about emotions. We hope that our chart is particularly useful because our illustrator manages to capture whimsy and personality in each drawing, so the experience has an element of humor and fun to it.
The visual representation of different emotions helps children identify and express their feelings more effectively, so this emotions chart provides a common language for discussing emotions, making it easier for children to communicate their needs and experiences. The more that kids look at the colors and expressions in the chart, the more they’ll be able to read the emotions of their family and friends.
How Do I Introduce This Emotions Chart?
One way is to simply use a method called “strewing,” which is when you leave something out for your kid to discover on their own. Just print it out and leave it somewhere they’ll notice it — a table, the fridge. Your kid will walk by, notice it, and then, if they’re interested, spark a conversation with you about it.
At that point, you can show them how the emotions get more intense the further to the right they go, or how they get more pleasant the higher they are, or how each emotion has an opposite.
We also offer multiple lessons on emotions in our lesson library, which gives members of Uplift Kids a quick and simple way to explore a wide variety of timeless topics together. With this method, you would sign up, and use our straightforward lessons on emotions to engage with your kids directly on the topic.
How Do I Set the Stage for Emotional Health?
To ensure the effective use of the emotions chart with kids, consider the following tips:
- Create a Safe and Supportive Environment. Cultivate an environment where children feel comfortable expressing their emotions without judgment or criticism. Encourage open and honest communication about feelings. Remember that even unpleasant emotions convey wisdom and insight.
- Be an Emotion Role Model. Since children learn by observing, demonstrate healthy emotional expression and management yourself. Be honest when you don’t manage an emotion as skillfully as you’d like. Kids know it’s a difficult process.
- Encourage Empathy. Help children develop empathy by discussing how different emotions might feel for others. Ask, “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” or “Can you understand why they reacted the way they did, based on what they were feeling?”
- Reinforce Positive Emotional Expression. Praise children for effectively expressing and managing their emotions. Celebrate when they use the emotions chart.
What Resources and Books Help Kids With Emotions?
As we mentioned, we’ve created a lesson library for members that has a full section on emotional health. We also offer a set of emotion cards, with a steep discount for members. (Members also get access to a printable PDF version of the cards so kids can play emotion games and activities.)
We want to be sure that Uplift Kids is a good fit, so we offer a free two-week trial.
In addition to the work of Marc Brackett, we recommend:
- The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. This book offers insights and strategies for raising emotionally intelligent children by understanding the science behind their developing brains.
- Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman. In this book, renowned psychologist John Gottman provides practical advice and exercises for parents to nurture emotional intelligence in their children.
Conclusion: Empower Kids with the Emotions Chart
Teaching kids about emotions and emotional intelligence is an essential part of their overall development. By using an emotions chart, children can better understand and express their feelings, develop empathy for others, and learn effective strategies for managing their emotions.
Whether you are a parent, teacher, or caregiver, incorporating the emotions chart into your interactions with children can have a profound impact on their emotional well-being and future success. So, unlock the power of emotions and help children thrive!
Links to Explore:
- Become an Uplift Kids member and get access to an enormous lesson library on values, emotions, wisdom practices, and more. We pull from psychological research and the world’s wisdom traditions (Stoicism, Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, Sufism, Humanism, etc.)
- Check out a collection of games and activities to teach kids emotions.
- Download the emotions chart.