List of Emotions for Kids – Names of Facial Expressions

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Child, Parenting

List of Emotions for Kids – Names of Facial Expressions

One of the most important and stressful elements of any new parents life is learning to read their child’s emotions. As their young boy or girl grows older, he/she will learn how to express themselves through a number of sounds, but also through their own unique facial expressions.


This is why it is critical for any parent to understand the list of emotions for kids, so they can empathize and understand whatever it is their child is trying to communicate.

Babies facial expressions can range from a wide list of emotions for kids. By following this definite guide, you will get all the important information on how to understand whatever face your special child is making and develop a list of emotions for kids.

Baby Facial Expression – Robert Plutchik’s Theory

Robert Plutchik was a psychologist and professor at the University of South Florida. His claim to fame was a theory he developed on the utility of emotion as a survival mechanism, and that all animals and human have emotions.

He based this idea on 10 claims.

  • The concept of emotion is present in all evolutionary levels and applies to all animals including humans
  • Emotion have their own evolutionary history, and have evolved various forms of expression in different species, so the list of emotions for alligators are different from the list of emotions for kids
  • Emotions serve an adaptive role helping organisms handle key survival situations
  • Common elements of emotion can be identified in different species, regardless of if it is a list of emotions for dogs versus a list of emotions for kids
  • There are a small number of “base” emotions that are in every species to some extent, including the list of emotions for kids
  • All other emotions are mixtures, dilutions or amplifications of base emotions
  • Each emotion can exist in a varying degree of intensity or arousal
  • Primary emotions are pairs of polar opposites
  • Emotions vary in how similar they are to each other, regardless of where they land in the list of emotions for kids or any other species
  • Primary emotions are idealized states that can only be inferred from evidence

Plutchik considered there to be 8 primary emotions in the list of emotions for kids, and that all other emotions were simple derivatives of that base set. These base 8 emotions could either be amplified or diluted based on the situation. He also believed these base emotions could be mixed together to create other emotions. So the list of emotions for kids would look something like the picture below, with the emotions closer to the inside of the circle more amplified, and vice versa.

These 8 base emotions in the list of emotions for kids are anger, fear trust, joy, anticipation, disgust, sadness and surprise. Plutchik argued for these to be the primary emotions all humans and animals display, as they all invoke a behaviour linked to a high survival rate(ex. fear creating a flight or fight response).



In the list of emotions for kids, fear is defined as a feeling which is created when you are put in a situation with perceived danger or threat. It causes a change in organ and metabolic function, and ultimately a change in behavior. An example of this is fleeing, hiding or freezing from a perceived traumatic event. Fear can occur in response to something in the present, or awaiting something in the future. In cases of extreme fear, this emotion can cause a freeze response or paralysis.


Anger is an intense emotional state which invokes an uncomfortable and hostile response to a perceived provocation, hurt or threat. In the list of emotions for kids, anger will manifest itself in the body as increased adrenaline, increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure. Anger can also be used as a protective mechanism in place of fear, hurt or sadness. Anger takes the place of fear or sadness when someone makes the decision to stop the threatening behavior of an outside force.


Sadness is a primary emotion which is based on feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, grief, sorrow, disappointment and helplessness. In the list of emotions for kids, it can manifest itself in a individual by them becoming quiet or lethargic, and withdrawn from others. Depression is an example of severe sadness, which can be caused by major depressive disorder. Crying can also be a sign of sadness in the list of emotions for kids.


Disgust is a primary emotion which in the list of emotions for kids is the rejection or revulsion to something distasteful, unpleasant, offensive or contagious. Charles Darwin wrote that disgust is a sensation referring to something revolting. People can be disgusted by any of the 5 senses, but usually it’s in relation to the taste of something. In the list of emotions for kids, disgust can also be in relation to certain phobias, and musically sensitive people can have a reaction of disgust to certain inharmonious sounds. It is believed that disgust evolved primarily as a defense mechanism to harmful things, such as human waste, spoiled food and dead bodies.In the list of emotions for kids disgust can arise if a child tastes something they feel is nasty.


Surprise is a startle response to an unexpected event. It is a brief physiological and mental state with a wide variety of responses. If the surprise is positive(surprise birthday party), then the fight or flight response won’t be as drastic. However, if the surprise is negative and threatening(finding a spider in your closet), then it will invoke a flight or fight response and you will likely feel some negative emotion. In the list of emotions for kids surprise is a key emotion.


In the list of emotions for kids, anticipation is an emotion involving pleasure, excitement, or anxiety in awaiting an expected event or occurrence. Anticipation is the central ingredient in sexual desire, and it is also one of the “mature ways of dealing with real stress”, according to Psychiatrist Robin Skynner.


Trust can be defined as believing that the person who is being trusted will do what is expected. Trust begins early in childhood, usually the first two years. In the list of emotions for kids and adults, successful trust is where the truster’s expectations are met, and results in feelings of security, safety and optimism. However, when trust is infringed, individuals get feelings of insecurity and mistrust, and can result in attachment disorders. A person’s tendency to trust others can be considered one of the strongest predictors of subjective well-being. Surprisingly, facial resemblance is a key influencer in developing trust, where people with similar facial expressions showed enhanced trust in a respective partner.


In the list of emotions for kids, joy can be described as feelings of great pleasure and happiness. It can be separated from other emotions like pleasure, from the fact that pleasure is within our power to attain, but joy isn’t.

Why Is It Important To Understand Child Facial Expressions

Understanding your little boy or girls baby facial expressions and there list of emotions for kids is key for a number of reasons.


It’s important from early on to understand your child’s facial expressions, because they are one of the most important ways he/she will be able to communicate with you early on. Children can take up to 2 years to form complete sentences, so all you can use to understand their themis whatever babble comes out of there mouth and their unique facial expression. By developing a list of emotions for kids to match whatever facial expression they are making, you will be able to communicate effectively with your young child and learn their children facial expressions.

Developing a bond

A good idea when raising a new child is to identify the names of facial expressions, so when they arise on your special son or daughters face you know exactly what they mean. Baby facial expressions are key in understanding your child, and developing a bond with them. So the quicker you pick up on your kids facial expressions, the sooner you will develop that special bond with them.

The list of emotions for kids your child puts on their face will indicate how they feel and will let you know if you need to change something.By responding properly and promptly to your child’s discomfort you will show them that you understand them, and develop trust which goes a very long way in a child’s development.

The Importance of Learning Facial Expressions For Kids

Facial expressions are a key component of any child’s early development. Child researchers indicate children are able to recognize and mimic facial expressions by as early as 7 months. So in order to ensure your child is recognizing and developing proper communication skills, they must be able to learn and read facial expressions of others.

In order for your child to properly develop they will have to learn the critical skill of how to read faces. As they develop this ability, your child will be more comfortable interacting with others.

Best Emotion Games for Kids

There are a number of cool, fun games you can play with your child that will help them develop proper facial expression recognition skills.

When learning the list of emotions for kids, games as simple as peek-a-boo will teach your child emotions like surprise, and just general playful behaviour like tickling and blowing on there stomach will let them know what play is. Any kind of play is usually a good facial expressions activities, and is a great way to develop facial expressions for kids. Just being with your child and talking to them is a great facial expression game


How To Read Faces?

The eyebrows raised indicate playful and happy mood, while eyebrows low mean the person or child is worried or feeling negative mood. Teeth barred in a smile shows positive emotion, while frowns illustrate negative emotion.

Reading faces is a skill people learn early on in life, as it is essential to proper communication. A vast majority of human communication is nonverbal, and facial expressions make up a significant portion of that. When learning the list of emotions for kids, reading faces is a process similar to learning a language or how to walk. It involves a significant amount of trial and error, and engaging with parents overtime you learn to read and understand what each facial expression means. Experience is the best teacher.

What Are the Best Facial Expression Activities for Kids?

The best facial expression activity for any child learning his list of emotions for kids is just simple interaction with them. Talking to them, playing with them, reading with them etc.

There is no curriculum for teaching your child how to read facial expressions. Your best bet as a parent is to have your child interact with a number of different individuals and overtime they will develop facial recognition skills.

How To Work On Facial Expressions With Your Kid?

The best way to work on facial expressions with your kid is to talk and engage with them constantly. Through constant communication they will develop proper facial recognition skills.

Kids face expression is a unique development process, that comes about as long as you are involved in your child’s life. Emotion faces for kids will learn to mimic your own as they grow older, and gain experience interacting with other children. When learning the list of emotions for kids, just make sure you are constantly engaging with them, and it can often turn into a fun facial expressions game.


Overall, there are a few key takeaways when learning the list of emotions for kids, how to teach them to recognize facial expressions and what they mean.

Firstly, you have to understand what emotions are and why they are here. Robert Plutchik’s theory of emotion is that each emotion serves a primary survival function, and that all animals and humans have emotions specially designed to their environment. In the list of emotions for kids, the eight primary emotions are anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust and joy.

In order to properly develop your child’s facial recognition skills, your best bet is to consistently interact with them. Talking, tickling, playing and just hanging out with your toddler will go a very long way to ensuring they know how to read faces. With constant communication and dedication to your child they should develop the skills necessary to read faces accurately and quickly, and it can turn your interactions with him/her into a fun way to learn your kids face expressions.

By following this guide you should be confident that you have all the knowledge necessary to raise and develop your child’s facial recognition skills and understand the emotion faces for children.