5 Breathing Exercises for Children
Are you worried about your little one’s anxiety and restlessness? Breathing exercises are a great way to calm the mind and body for you and your children. To help incorporate breathing techniques into your child’s life, we have compiled a list of the five best breathing exercises for kids. Not only will this make a huge difference in your child’s day-to-day life, but these deep breathing techniques can also be used by people of all ages.
Read on to learn our top five suggestions regarding breathing techniques for kids. After that, check out Children’s Bureau’s programs and services for professional training and support.
What Are The Benefits of Breathing Exercises?
Teaching your kids how to breathe sounds simple, but applying it can be very challenging. With proper guidance and learning, many potential benefits can come from mindful deep breathing exercises including:
- Reduced feelings of stress and anxiety
- Lowered levels of tension
- Stabilized blood pressure
- Strengthened immunity
- Increased energy levels
Fun Breathing Exercises for Kids
1. Bubble Breathing
Using bubbles is a great way for children to practice breathing exercises for anxiety. When blowing bubbles, perhaps without even realizing it, the breathing technique calms the mind and body. When blowing carefully and intentionally to create a bubble, the mind is focused on the present moment, and breathing becomes the center of attention. Practice bubble breathing with your child regularly as a fun activity to release built-up anxiety or anger.
2. Stop and Smell The Flowers
In this breathing exercise, have your child pick a flower (real or fake) or imagine that they have one in their hand at that moment. Have them take a deep breath for a few seconds, filling their lungs with air. Once they have a full inhale, have them hold for one second, followed by a long exhale.
A fun way to talk with your child about this technique is to explain that the air (carbon dioxide) we breathe out helps the flower grow, just as the oxygen released from the plants helps us grow.
3. Stuffed Animal Breathing
Another fun breathing exercise for children is the stuffed animal breathing technique. Here, you will want your child to pick a stuffed animal and place it on their belly while lying on their back. To get them involved, you can tell them they will use deep belly breaths to calm themselves while taking their little stuffed animal along for the ride.
When they are ready, have them breathe in deep enough that they can see their stuffed animal rise on their belly. After a deep breath, have your child breathe out and watch the stuffed animal fall back down. Repeat this deep breathing process for 2-5 minutes for best results.
4. Animal Breathing Techniques
If your child loves animals, these animal breathing techniques might be the best exercises for your little one. Here are our favorite animal breathing techniques and how to properly enact them:
- Snake breathing – Inhale through the nose for 3 seconds, hold for 1 second, and breathe out while making a hissing sound resembling a snake.
- Bunny breathing – Inhale 3 quick breaths through the nose, followed by one long exhale through the nose as well. Practice slowing down the exhale each time your child does this conscious breathing exercise.
- Bumblebee breathing – Similar to bunny breath, bumblebee breath also requires breathing in and out through your nose. However, this deep breathing technique resembles snake breath in animal sounds. Have your child make a humming or buzzing sound on the exhale like a bee.
5. Lemon Squeeze
Roxana Bermudez, mental health therapist at Children’s Bureau walks through a simple breathing exercise that requires no additional props and can be utilized at any given moment. This technique is done by imagining a lemon in each of the palms of your hands. Pretend you are squeezing all of the juice out of the lemon and make fists with your hands as you take a deep breath. After three seconds, release your hands and exhale. Repeat as many times as needed until your child feels calm.
Tips for Introducing Breathing Exercises to Your Child
While each of the above breathing exercises plays a valuable role in calming your child, the following tips will allow your child to make the most out of these exercises:
1. Start ASAP
Teaching your child breathing techniques and the value of mindful breathing exercises at an early age is very important. The sooner you incorporate this into their lives, the more regular of a routine it will become, allowing them to fall back on these exercises in times of emotional upset. However, it is never too late to begin teaching your child about the importance and effects of breathing; if you haven’t yet, start today!
2. Normalize Icky Feelings and Emotions
Breathing techniques are calming practices used to soothe ourselves when stress and “icky feelings” arise. Be sure that you let your child know that there is nothing wrong with having these feelings and that they happen to everyone from time to time, some more than others. When explaining anxiety to kids you need to be careful and use simple terms so they can understand.
3. Start Out Breathing by Sitting or Lying
Sitting or lying down helps children calm down and get into a better state to perform their breathing exercises.
Keep Practicing and Be a Role Model
Consistency is an important part when it comes to breathing exercises for children. You will want to make a routine out of these exercises to build a healthy habit, perhaps once or a few times a week. In addition, being a role model by doing the exercises yourself, helps set an example for your children and lock in the consistency. Make breathing exercises a special time for you and your child; you will both reap their benefits.
The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise
An increasingly popular technique is the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, which can be practiced no matter your child’s age. This technique involves:
- Breathing in slowly for four seconds (4)
- Holding your breath for seven seconds (7)
- Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds (8)
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise may be more popular now, but it is based on ancient yogic techniques that can reduce anxiety and reduce stress.
Breathe In, Breathe Out
You’ve got this, and so does your little one. Anxiety, anger, and other overwhelming emotions can sometimes feel completely out of your control. That said, breathing techniques like those above can make a huge difference when these feelings arise.
If your child’s emotions need more attention and support, Children’s Bureau has various mental health resources and counseling for kids aged 0-21. From assessments to services, Children’s Bureau provides the tools and support to help your child handle those overwhelming and icky emotions.
No matter how you teach your child about these emotions and how to best handle stressful situations, breathing techniques are a great place to start!