How to easily teach children to take a deep breath and practice breathing exercises for kids to manage anger, anxiety and other big feelings and motions.
I often tell my children to take a deep breath when they are overly excited, anxious about something or seem nervous or scared about something.
Unfortunately, telling children to take a deep breath isn’t very effective because they may not understand what it means to take a moment, take a deep breath and calm down.
Kids really do get stressed out and anxious and overstimulated and they need that opportunity to calm down. When teaching my own children how to take deep breaths and calm down, I looked up some breathing exercises for kids, and these were the ones that worked best for my children.
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Understanding Stressful Situations
As parents, we know that children can experience stress just like adults. From school pressures and social interactions, to family dynamics and changes in routine, children are exposed to a variety of stressors on a daily basis.
This can take a toll on their mental and physical health, and can manifest in different ways such as headaches, stomach aches, trouble sleeping, or acting out.
It is important to understand that stress is a normal part of life, and that children need to learn how to cope with it in order to develop resilience and emotional regulation.
However, when stress becomes chronic or overwhelming, it can have negative effects on a child’s overall well-being.
One of the most important things we can teach our children is how to manage stress in a healthy way. One of the simplest and most effective ways to do this is through deep breathing exercises.
Slow and steady breaths can help children shift out of the “fight or flight” mode, and into a more relaxed state.
By taking slow breaths, children learn to focus on the present moment, instead of getting caught up in worries about the past or future.
Slowing down the breath can also activate the parasympathetic nervous system which calms the body and mind.
This can be especially helpful for children who have a hard time dealing with big emotions or stressful situations.
Breathing exercises can also be used as a brain break exercise. It is great way to give children a moment to pause and focus on something other than what might be causing them stress. This can be especially useful in situations like a grocery store or other public places where children might get overwhelmed.
Research has shown that deep belly breathing can lower blood pressure, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and even improve sleep.
In fact, deep breathing exercises are one of the easiest and most effective ways to activate the body’s relaxation response, which is especially important for children who may have a hard time dealing with big emotions or stressful situations.
Fun Ways to Incorporate Breathing Exercises
One of the best things about breathing exercises is that they can be adapted to fit a child’s age and interests. Incorporating fun and playful elements can make it more engaging for children and help them to see the benefits of deep breathing in a positive light.
One fun way to incorporate deep breathing exercises is by using an index finger to guide the breath. This is a great way to teach children about diaphragmatic breathing, which is when the breath is taken in deeply into the belly rather than shallow chest breaths.
By placing an index finger on the belly, children can learn to breathe deeply and watch their finger rise and fall with each breath.
This can be a helpful visual prompt for children to focus on their breath and help them to relax.
Another fun way to incorporate breathing exercises is by using a stuffed animal as a visual aid. Children can place the stuffed animal on their belly and watch it rise and fall as they breathe deeply.
This can be a fun way to help children focus on the sensation of the breath and engage their imagination.
Balloon breathing is another fun activity that children can enjoy. This exercise involves breathing in deeply and then blowing up a balloon with the breath.
Children can watch the balloon grow bigger and bigger with each breath.
This can be a fun way to help children learn about diaphragmatic breathing and how it can be used to calm the body and mind. This exercise can be done with a real or pretend balloon.
Additionally, using fun breathing exercises like “Feather Breathing” where children imagine blowing a feather with their breath, “Rainbow Breathing” where children imagine different colors with each inhale and exhale, or “Bumble Bee Breathing” where children make a buzzing noise as they exhale, can be a great way to make the exercise more engaging and fun for children.
It’s a good idea to find the favorite breathing exercise for your child and make it a regular part of their daily routine. Incorporating breathing exercises into a child’s daily routine can have a positive impact on their overall well-being and can be a powerful tool for dealing with stress and big emotions.
The key to successful breathing exercises is to make it easy, fun and interesting, and by providing a visual or visual prompt.
This way children can understand the concept in a fun way and can easily apply it in their daily life.
Mindful Breathing Exercises for Younger Children
Mindful breathing exercises can be a great way for younger children to learn about the importance of deep breathing and how it can be used to manage stress and big emotions.
These exercises are designed to be easy for children to understand and follow, and can be a fun and engaging way to introduce them to the practice of mindfulness.
Feather breathing is a simple and easy way for children to focus on their breath. In this exercise, children imagine blowing a feather with their breath.
This can help them to visualize the movement of the breath and learn how to take slow, deep breaths. The feather can be real or imaginary and children can blow it in different directions.
Bubble breathing is another fun way for children to visualize the movement of the breath. In this exercise, children imagine blowing soap bubbles with their breath.
This can help them to understand the concept of inhaling and exhaling and how to take slow, deep breaths. Bubble blowing can be done with real or pretend bubbles.
“Quick sniffs” is a simple and easy breathing exercise that can be used to encourage children to take deeper breaths. In this exercise, children take quick sniffs through their nose, which can help to stimulate the diaphragm and encourage deeper breathing.
This can be a great way to help children relax and calm down when they’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Incorporating mindful breathing exercises into a child’s daily routine can have a positive impact on their overall well-being and can be a powerful tool for dealing with stress and big emotions.
These exercises can be done in a quiet space and can be a great way for children to take a brain break from their busy day.
It’s a good idea to use a visual prompt like a breathing card or a Hoberman sphere to make it more interesting for children.
It’s important to remember that children learn in different ways and that there are many different techniques that can be used to teach them about mindful breathing.
It’s a good idea to try different exercises and find the ones that work best for your child. And always be sure to consult with your pediatrician or a community child health professional before starting any new technique.
Relaxation Techniques for Children
Relaxation techniques can be a great way for children to learn how to manage stress and big emotions. These techniques can be fun and easy to incorporate into a child’s daily routine, and can have a positive impact on their overall well-being.
Bumble bee breathing is a fun and engaging way for children to slow down their heart rate. In this exercise, children take quick sniffs through their nose, like a bumblebee, and exhale through their mouth.
This can help to stimulate the diaphragm and encourage deeper breathing, which can have a calming effect on the body.
Bunny breathing is another fun way for children to activate their parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “rest and digest” response in the body.
In this exercise, children imagine themselves as a bunny, taking slow and gentle breaths. This can help to slow down the heart rate and encourage relaxation.
The Hoberman sphere is a visual prompt that can be used to guide children’s breathing. It’s a geometric toy that expands and contracts when it’s played with.
Children can use the sphere to visualize the movement of the breath and learn how to take slow, deep breaths. This can be a fun and engaging way for children to learn about diaphragmatic breathing.
VI. Tips for Incorporating Breathing Exercises into Daily Life
Incorporating breathing exercises into a child’s daily routine can have a positive impact on their overall well-being, but it’s important to remember that children learn in different ways.
Here are a few tips to help you incorporate breathing exercises into your child’s daily life:
- Make it fun: Children are more likely to engage with an activity if they find it fun and interesting. Try to incorporate breathing exercises into games and activities that your child already enjoys.
- Incorporate visual prompts: Use visual prompts like breathing cards or a Hoberman sphere to make it more interesting for children.
- Use a digital download: You can find many breathing exercises and relaxation techniques in digital download format. This can be a great way to find new exercises that your child might enjoy.
- Incorporate it into their daily routine: Make breathing exercises a part of your child’s daily routine. You can set aside a specific time of day for breathing exercises, or incorporate them into activities like getting ready for bed or going to the grocery store.
- Consult with a professional: Always be sure to consult with your pediatrician or a community child health professional before starting any new technique.
By incorporating breathing exercises into a child’s daily routine, you can help them learn how to manage stress and big emotions in a healthier way.
These exercises can be a powerful tool for promoting overall well-being and can be a fun and engaging way for children to learn about mindfulness and relaxation.
Tips for Incorporating Breathing Exercises into Daily Life
Incorporating breathing exercises into a child’s daily routine can be a great way to promote overall health and well-being.
One effective way to do this is by using breathing cards as a reminder for children to take a few minutes to focus on their breath.
These cards can be simple, with a picture or illustration of a breathing technique, or more advanced with prompts for different breathing exercises.
Another way to incorporate breathing exercises into daily life is by using “brain break” exercises during the day.
These quick, simple exercises can be done in the classroom or at home to help children refocus and relax. Creating a quiet space for deep breathing exercises can also be helpful.
This can be a designated area in the home or a specific time of day where children can go to focus on their breath and relaxation.
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- Effect of relaxation-breathing training on anxiety and asthma signs/symptoms in children: A study evaluated the effectiveness of combined self-management and relaxation-breathing training for children with moderate-to-severe asthma. The training included a relaxation-breathing technique and resulted in significantly lower anxiety for children in the experimental group, suggesting that breathing exercises can improve children’s health by reducing anxiety (Chiang et al., 2009).
- Asthma – A Disease of How We Breathe: Role of Breathing Exercises and Pranayam: This article describes the role of breathing exercises or yoga and/or pranayama in managing childhood asthma. Breathing techniques are shown to normalize CO2 levels, reduce bronchospasm, and decrease breathlessness, in addition to changing behavior, decreasing anxiety, improving immunological parameters, and enhancing the endurance of respiratory muscles (Sankar & Das, 2018).
- Evaluating the ChillFish Biofeedback Game with Children with ADHD: ChillFish, a respiration game for children with ADHD, incorporates breathing exercises to help children control their stress level. Although designed for entertainment, this study’s findings suggest the game’s potential to have a calming effect, underscoring the importance of innovative approaches to breathing exercises for children with attention and hyperactivity concerns (Sonne & Jensen, 2016).
- The Immediate Effects of Systematic Relaxation Training on Peak Expiratory Flow Rates in Asthmatic Children: This study investigates the effect of systematic relaxation on peak expiratory flow rate in asthmatic children, providing evidence that relaxation techniques, including breathing exercises, can improve pulmonary functions, which is crucial for children dealing with asthma (Alexander, Miklich, & Hershkoff, 1972).
- Breathing exercises for children with asthma: This systematic review assesses the effects of breathing exercises in children with asthma. Although definitive conclusions could not be drawn due to the nature of the interventions and methodological differences among studies, the review highlights the potential role of breathing exercises as a complementary therapy in the management of childhood asthma (Macêdo et al., 2016).