Breathwork for kids
Deep breathing is so important for kids to learn because they can use it to calm their body down when they are feeling;
- to relax or fall asleep;
- calm their body after exercising; or
- to pause and reset when they are in a state of high energy.
Taking deep, deliberate breaths can calm a person physically and mentally.
Deep breathing techniques activate the parasympathetic nervous system (part of the nervous system that controls reactions to stress), as well as redirect the mind to a simple task, distracting from anxious thoughts. In general terms “Deep breathing tells your body and brain to relax”.
Belly breathing (also called diaphragmatic breathing) is one of the easiest breathing exercises for kids because there are no supplies needed, and the technique can be used anytime and anywhere.
“Children can implement belly breathing anywhere that they need to without drawing attention to themselves, whether they are starting to feel anxious in school or with friends”
Here are 3 easy steps we use in the Pre-prep room to teach deep belly breathing by feeling the rise and fall of the breath;
Firstly, ask the children to breathe normally and notice how they’re feeling in the moment.
Guide the children to;
- Place one hand on their belly (above the belly button) and one hand on their upper chest;
- Take a deep breath in through their nose, inflating their belly up and out engaging the diaphragm.. their belly will push their hand out; (Their chest should not move)
- Breathe out slowly through pursed lips, deflating their belly down… their hand will fall with their belly. REPEAT.
Note: When standing– Their belly will inflate out like a balloon on the inhale and deflate all the way in on the exhale.
When lying down– Their belly will rise up (inflate) on the inhale and fall (deflate) on the exhale.
Different types of breathing exercises
In our room we have a “Breath Work Dice” which the children can use independently as needed, to guide them with their deep breathing techniques. It includes the following techniques
- Long breath in, slow breath out. Repeat twice and then blow the candle out with your last breath.
- Imagine a little ball of your favourite colour filling up your body as you take a big slow breath in and let it all the way out.
- Make your mouth into an O shape and take a big breath in, exhale hissing like a snake.
- Take x4 quick breaths in through your nose then exhale through your mouth.
- Big breath in through your nose, and exhale making a “haaaahhhhh” sound with your tongue sticking out.
- Inhale through the nose with 1 small breath, 1 medium breath and 1 large breath…. and let all the breath out on the 3rd breath.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when teaching belly breathing is to practice when the child is calm. By practicing when a child feels good, they will be equipped to use these tool in moments of stress or anxiety.
That’s all from Miss Patti and the Sea Turtles.