7 Breathing exercises to help children feel calm

Breathing exercises and techniques for children.

Knowing how to keep calm is an important life skill that every child (and adult) should learn; breathing exercises are one of the most effective ways to help both kids and adults calm down.

Teaching deep breathing to your child

Telling your child to ‘take a deep breath’ in the midst of a meltdown is unlikely to work, these techniques will work best when you both feel calm. It’s important the breathing exercises are fun and relatable to children.

Try these simple breathing activities together and help your child learn to calm down when they feel angry, upset or anxious.

Belly breathing (with teddies)

Belly breathing calms down the nervous system and is easy to do. Ask your child to choose their favourite teddy and then to to lie comfortably on their back. Ask them to place the teddy on their tummy and to breathe in through their nose (like they are smelling some flowers) and out through their mouth (like blowing out a birthday candle). This helps teach children to use their belly to take big deep breaths

Use bubbles

This is a great way to get your child to start practising calm breathing in a non-threatening, playful way. You can do this indoors or outdoors. Tell your children that if they breathe in first (through the nose) and fill up their belly with air before they breathe out, they will blow the biggest bubbles. Have fun with it, don’t worry too much if they don’t – practising breathing is the key.

Take 5

This one is a bit tricky to explain – so I put together this great video so you can see how it works. If you don’t want to listen to the introduction, the demonstration starts around 3 minutes 30.

Windmill breathing

Using a windmill is a fun way to practice breathing in and out. Children can imagine the windmill is a flower (smelling it as they breathe in) and watching it move as they breathe out.

Bumblbee breathing

Breathe in and pretend you are smelling a flower. As you breathe out, make a humming bee sound.

4-7-8 breath

Breathe out and let your body relax. Close your mouth and breathe in to count of 4, hold the breath for 7 and breathe out slowly for 8 seconds.

Count to ten

Breathe in one – breath out 2 – breathe in 3 – breathe out 4 – breathe in 5 – breathe out 6 – breath in 7 – breathe out 8 – breathe in 9 breathe out ten.

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