I shared helpful base techniques for deep breathing practices in a recent post. If you are unfamiliar as an adult, then it is definitely worth checking out.
3 Resources to Teach Kiddos Deep Breathing
Did you know kids can benefit from deep breathing, too?! In fact, if they learn the skill while they’re young, it will be much easier for them to make it a habit. If they are interested in just the counting methods listed in my last post on this topic that’s great. I do want to share a few different tools that will help to make deep breathing more fun! Here are just a few easy activities that you can try at home with your child:
Bubbles: One of the primary goals of deep breathing is emphasizing and increasing the exhale. This doesn’t come naturally for us, so one way to help a child practice this is by using bubbles! Show them (and have them try it) how quick and sharp exhales might make some small bubbles, or, more likely, might pop the bubble before it’s really even started. But if they exhale nice and slow, they can make a much bigger bubble! Have them practice this kind of bubble-blowing to get their body comfortable with the feel of slow and steady exhales.
*You can also use a pinwheel, and see how long you or the child can keep the pinwheel moving. Sharp breaths don’t last very long!
Breathing Buddies: The other primary goal of deep breathing is filling more of the lungs than just the chest areas. We want belly breaths, to fill the bottom of the lungs, too! To practice breathing in and out of the belly, a child can pick a small stuffed animal or toy and lie down on his or her back. Have the child put the toy on his or her belly, and breathe in and out so that the toy moves up and down. You want to have them breathe slowly, so the toy stays steady on the stomach but moves up and down with each breath. Practicing with breathing buddies helps the body get used to the feeling of breathing deeply from the belly, not the chest!
Sitting Still Like a Frog: This book by Eline Snel is a great resource for teaching your child some simple exercises that they can use to calm down, to focus, or to deal with difficult emotions. Deep breathing is just one part of this great children’s book on mindfulness – it even comes with a CD with an hour of guided exercises! You can find the book here.
When it comes to learning how to breathe deeply, you can’t start too young! These exercises are simple, but don’t be discouraged if your child has a difficult time with them at first. Because breathing deeply doesn’t come naturally, it takes practice to adjust. I’d encourage you to try doing these exercises with your child! Not only will that make it more fun for your child, but you’ll get a little deep breathing practice, too!
Deep breathing is an excellent step towards healthy coping, but it is important to be aware that it isn’t an automatic fix. If you or your child are struggling with anxiety, stress, or difficult or overwhelming emotions, give me a call! I would love to work with you in overcoming those challenges.
Written by therapist Clair Miller
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