5 Breathing Exercises for Children
Breathing exercises are a great way to calm the mind and body for both you and your children. To help incorporate breathing techniques into your child’s life, we have put together a list of the five best breathing exercises for children. 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 when it comes to breathing techniques for kids.
1. Bubble Breathing
A great way for children to practice breathing exercises is by using bubbles. When blowing bubbles, perhaps without even realizing, a breathing technique is used that 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 simply imagine that they have one in their hand at that moment. Have them take a deep breath in 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) that we breathe out helps the flower grow, just as the oxygen released from the plants help us grow as well. .
3. Stuffed Animal Breathing
Another fun breathing exercise for children is the stuffed animal breathing technique. Here, you will want to have your child pick a stuffed animal of their choosing and place it on their belly while they are laying on their back. To get them involved, you can tell them that they will be using 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 the 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 breath – Inhale through the nose for 3 seconds, hold for 1 second, and breathe out while making a hissing sound resembling a snake.
- Bunny breath – 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 breath – Similar to the bunny breath, the bumblebee breath also requires you to breathe in and out through just your nose. However, this breathing technique is also similar to the snake breath when it comes to animal sounds. That said, on the exhale, have your child make a humming or buzzing sound 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 in any given moment. This technique is done by imagining a lemon is 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 in. 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 play a valuable role in calming your child, the following tips will allow your child to make the most out of these exercises:
Teaching your child breathing techniques and the value of 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!
Normalize Icky Feelings and Emotions
Breathing techniques are calming practices that are 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.
Keep Practicing and Be a Role Model
Consistency is an important part when it comes to breathing exercises for children. To build a healthy habit, you will want to make a routine out of these exercises, 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 and you will both reap the benefits they have to offer.
Breathe In, Breathe Out
You’ve got this, and so does your little one. Anxiety, anger, and other overwhelming emotions can feel completely out of your control at times. That said, breathing techniques such as the five listed above can make a huge difference when these feelings do arise.
If you feel that your child’s emotions need a bit more attention and support, Children’s Bureau has a wide variety of mental health resources for children ages 0-21. From assessments to services, Children’s Bureau is there to provide the tools and support to help your child handle those overwhelming emotions and icky feelings.
No matter how you choose to teach your child about these emotions and how to best handle stressful situations, breathing techniques are a great place to start!
Susan J. Wood, LMFT is the Director of Mental Health at Children’s Bureau and has over 20 years of experience working with children in a community mental health setting. She joined Children’s Bureau in 2015 as a Program Manager in the Antelope Valley and became the program director in June 2018 where she was instrumental in opening and expanding mental health services to the Santa Clarita Valley and Long Beach.