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You can submit your families emotion stories at julia.simens@gmail.com

Working on emotions with young children will help support their growth in many ways. Please let me know if you would like more information on how to start making these stories with your family. Many of our emotion stories start when we move to a new location. Children love airplane travel planning and stories.

The book Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child – looks at 18 key emotions every child should be able to identity and explain. 

Please make sure your child knows the following emotions and how they feel in his/her body.

1. Joy                                  

2.  Surprise                        

3. Anticipation                        

4. Fear

5. Anger                              

6. Disgust                          

7.  Trust                                  

8. Sadness

9. Acceptance                

10.  Grief                              

11. Optimism                          

12. Disapproval

13. Awe                            

14. Contempt                      

15. Aggressive                      


17. Apprehension          

18. Love


My book is a parenting book based in psychology and my belief that children need to understand their own emotional vocabulary to make connections and thrive.

Picture 5
I am feeling…

I give parents/teachers lots of suggestions on how to explain emotions and their intensity to young children.

Here is a group lesson that I do to children as young as three. I call it “Emotions Three Levels.”   We look at the four key emotions all 3 and 4 year old know and how to fine tune this so we can tell others how we really feel.

Parents have reported that after their children understand these levels and have the actual vocabulary consistently working in the household there are fewer arguments.

Using your hands and arms show how an elevator goes up and down. This is how our emotions are also. We can be happy but have different levels of happy. Exaggerate with your facial expressions and explain how you might go from cheerful to excited.  When I was doing this with a group of students in Thailand, I started out with the story of coming to school and be very cheerful because I saw my friends playing on the playground.  Then I remembered that it was my birthday so I went from being cheerful to excited. I asked them to think about the word “jubilant” and what would make me feel even more happy or excited than my own birthday party. A four year old said “You would be jubilant if it was also the Kings birthday.” Remember children love stories so weave stories around these levels of emotions.

Basic Emotion “Happy”

  • Low level – Cheerful
  • Medium Level – Excited
  • High Level – Jubilant

Basic Emotion “Sad”

  • Low Level – Ignored
  • Medium Level – Forlorn
  • High  Level- Miserable

Basic Emotion “Angry”

  • Low Level – Annoyed
  • Medium Level – Irritated
  • High  Level- Furious

Basic Emotion “Afraid”

  • Low Level – Uneasy
  • Medium  Level – Fearful
  • High Level – Panicked

Many parents and teachers just don’t understand how important it is for a child to accurately tell them how they are feeling.  With practice and a clear understanding of these emotions, kids can tell us how they feel.

When your child understands that emotions can have several levels you can build from the original 16 emotions on this list to 60!




Four Basic Emotions World Wide


HIGH Level Emotion Words

Elated               Miserable                    Fuming                   Panicked

Ecstatic            Crushed                      Furious                   Horrified

Jubilant             Helpless                     Outraged                Terrified

Overjoyed         Worthless                   Hateful                   Petrified

Radiant              Depressed                 Burned up              Desperate

MEDIUM Level Emotion Words

Delighted              Forlorn                   Disgusted             Alarmed
Excited                 Dejected                Irritated                  Fearful
Bubbly                  Slighted                 Hostile                   Strained
Tickled                 Defeated                Riled                      Shaky
Glowing                Burdened               Biting                     Jittery

LOW Level Emotion Words

Cheerful               Resigned                  Peeved                   Uneasy
Glad                     Blue                           Bugged                  Tense
Pleased               Glum                          Annoyed                 Anxious
Amused              Gloomy                       Ruffled                    Nervous
Relieved              Ignored                       Cross                     Puzzled

With  five year olds I like to have them understand these 60 different emotions. I also give them the three dimensional model of emotions from Plutchik so they understand how emotions vary in degrees.

We often use the analogy of an elevator or escalator so they can see low level emotions, medium level of emotions and high level of emotions. I explain situations and they guess how I was feeling.  I like to have the students work in small groups so they can discuss how they think I was feeling. Then it is really just a guessing game to see if they can match up with what I am talking about.

Example:  Julia arrives at school and all of her friends are playing tag but they don’t ask her to join in their game.  Julia is feeling a low level emotion of sad.  What might Julia be feeling?  They will look over the five low level sad emotions and ‘guess’ what I might be feeling.  This is a common feeling on the playground so I ask them to explore the emotion of ‘ignored’. We give examples of other times we feel ignored.


This website has many great TCK resources and things for global families. Please visit it here.

The following books are great if you have a five year old:

Julia’s Top 30 books for Five-year-olds


  1. Alexander, Claire, Lucy and the Bully
  2. Blohm, Judith, M., Where in the World Are You Going?
  3. Brown, Marc, D.W.’s Guide to Preschool
  4. Cain, Janan, The Way I Feel
  5. 5. Carlson, Nancy, Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come
  6. 6. Child, Lauren, I Am Too Absolutely Small for School
  7. Couric, Katie, The Brand New Kid
  8. Cummings, Carol, Finding Feelings
  9. Curtis, Jamie Lee, It’s Hard to be Five!
  10. Cuyler, Margery and Yoshikawa, Sachiko, Kindness is Cooler
  11. Deal, Russell, The Wrong Stone
  12. Hickman, Martha Whitmore, I’m Moving
  13. Joosse, Barbara and Lavalle, Barbara,  Mama, Do You Love Me?
  14. Henkes, Kevin, Wemberely Worried
  15. Lovell, Patty, Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon
  16. Lucas, David, Halibut Jackson
  17. Ludwig, Trudy, Sorry
  18. McCormick, Wendy, Daddy, Will You Miss Me?
  19. Meiners, Cheri, Understand and Care
  20. Myers, Bernice, It Happens to Everyone
  21. O’Neill, Alexis, The Recess Queen
  22. Pak, Soyung, Sumi’s First Day of School Ever
  23. Penn, Audrey, The Kissing Hand
  24. Rockwell, Anne, Welcome to Kindergarten
  25. Rylant, Cynthia, The Relatives Came
  26. Verdick, Elizabeth and Heinlen, Marieka, Words Are Not for Hurting
  27. Ward, Heather Patricia, I Promise I’ll Find You
  28. Wells, Rosemary, Mama Don’t Go
  29. Wickens, Roth, My first Day of School
  30. Wolff, Ashley, Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

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