Kids go through big emotions. They are still quite new to the complexities of life and the ups and downs that it brings.
Feelings like anger, jealousy, sadness, frustration, fear, embarrassment, worry, and anxiety are as much experienced by children as adults.
Change of any kind can feel unsettling and affect their sense of security. Relationships at school and home can feel difficult. Body changes can make a child feel anxious. Learning new habits can lead to feeling overwhelmed.
There is a lot that a child goes through while growing up.
What a child lacks is the vocabulary to talk about how they are feeling. A good indicator is the breath. And not only does the breath serve as a barometer for sensing how a child is feeling, it is also a tool to find calm and comfort.
Here, we will talk about the importance of deep breathing. We will also share the right way to practice breathing exercises for kids and our favorite deep breathing exercises.
The benefits of a deep breath for kids
Kids often only breathe into the upper chest or the lower belly. A full and deep breath, on the other hand, engages the chest, abdomen, sides of the body, back, and the rib cage.
These are the ways in which deep breathing helps kids:
Brings mindfulness of the present moment
Deep breaths enable kids to be present with their physical, mental, and emotional states. It connects them with the here and now.
Soothes and calms emotions
Breathing calms children. Slow breaths help relax the parts of the brain that deal with emotions and have a soothing effect.
Besides the calm that a deep breath creates, it enables kids to self regulate their feelings and deal with them in a healthier way. Deep breathing exercises also help balance blood pressure.
Deep breathing facilitates the movement of the breath to different parts of the body, ensuring better circulation through the body.
This helps improve energy levels and boost the functioning of the digestive, circulatory, nervous, and cardiovascular systems.
Strengthens mind body connection
When children practice mindful breathing exercises, they become aware of the breath and its movement in the body. This strengthens their mind body connection.
This leads to a better awareness of the body and improved receptivity to feelings of pain, discomfort, hunger, and tiredness.
Deep breathing increases the flow of oxygenated blood in the body. More oxygen means muscles are able to release any accumulated tension, loosen, and relax.
Deep belly breaths create more space in the body for it to open and loosen the parts that are stiff. By releasing any stored tightness, it helps with increasing flexibility.
The body’s natural capacity to rejuvenate gets activated.
How to practice deep breathing techniques with kids
Here are some tips to help you encourage kids to learn and practice deep breathing exercises.
- Breathing exercises when done in a fun way helps kids learn faster and keep up with the practice.
- Any breathing exercise can be practiced for 10 – 15 minutes. However, to begin, start small. Encourage kids to do a few rounds initially and gradually increase the time.
- Breathing techniques can be practiced two to three times a day, ideally not immediately after an intense physical activity and once the body has cooled down.
- Create the right environment. Choose a quiet space, one in which a child feels calm. It is ideal if the room is well ventilated.
- Make sure the bladder is empty and the stomach light. Breathing exercises should preferably be practiced after 2 to 3 hours of eating.
- Deep breaths should not be forced. A child should breathe deeply only within their comfortable capacity.
- Any jerky movements should be avoided.
- Teach kids breathing exercises not when they are going through an emotional upheaval but when they are relatively calm.
- Start with making the child comfortable with belly breathing.
13 Deep Breathing Exercises for Kids
Before starting with the different breathing techniques, something that you can teach kids as a preparatory practice is deep belly breathing.
This is a simple breathing exercise in which you can have the child place one hand on the belly, inhale deeply, and feel the belly expanding. On the out breath, slowly exhale and feel the belly collapsing.
You can even place a light stuffed animal on the belly to help a child experience belly breathing.
And now, here are the most fun and easiest breathing exercises for kids. They are very relatable which makes them easy to recall when a child needs to experience some calm moments.
Sit up tall and take your time to become still. Slowly breathe in making a little o with your mouth. As you let it out, make a hissing sound like a snake for as long as you can. You can do this a few times.
This can help you focus when you have something important to do.
Sit up tall and become still. Pull your belly in so it becomes strong. Take quick sniffs in through your nose, like little bunny breaths. Let it all the way out through your mouth.
You can also put one hand on your belly and feel your belly muscles working as you breathe. This helps by giving us more energy.
Take a deep breath in through the nose. Then exhale like you are blowing bubbles. Deep belly breath in and slowly breathing it out so you can make a nice and big bubble.
Imagine some birthday candles in front of you. As you breathe out, let the air out of your mouth in such a way that you blow a candle out. This has to be really slow and strong breathing.
You can even hold a finger in front of your mouth and pretend it is a candle.
Imagine that your body is like a balloon. As you breathe in, the balloon expands and as you breathe out, the air goes out. Breathe in and blow up the balloon even bigger. Now, exhale slowly and let go of the balloon so the air escapes and the balloon becomes limp and empty.
Imagine that you are a dog. You can also have a stuffed animal that is a dog by your side if you have one. Breathe in and as you breathe out pant like a dog. Haa Haa Haa Haa Haa Haa.
Relax for a moment and repeat.
Imagine that you are a cat, and if you have one, keep a stuffed animal cat while you practice this. Take a deep breath in and as you breathe out purrrrr.
Relax for a moment and repeat.
Sigh Out Breaths
Take a deep breath in. Breathe out with a sigh and relax. You can do this a few times. Breathe in and sigh as you breathe out.
Sit up tall and imagine you are a sleepy lion just waking up in the morning doing a big lion yawn. Start by breathing in and as you breathe out, say haaaaaaa while sticking your lion tongue out as far as it feels comfortable.
Sit up tall and become still. Close your eyes and imagine you are a bear taking a long rest during the cold winter. When bears rest they slow down their breathing. Breathe in slowly through your nose and let out a long exhale.
Do this a few times.
Dragon Fire Breaths
Interlace your fingers under your chin. As you inhale, raise your elbows as high as it feels comfortable. While breathing out, lower your elbows back down.
Sit tall and start breathing in through the nose. Now, with the mouth closed, breathe out and make a buzzing sound like a bumblebee. It is like you are humming.
If you feel like, cup your palms around your ears while you make the humming sound.
Sit tall and close your eyes. Start paying attention to your breathing without wanting to change anything about it. Simply experience breathing in and breathing out.
While there are other calming strategies that you can teach, breathing exercises for kids is a wonderful way to encourage child development. They are the best exercises for reduced feelings of anxiety, fear, and anger.
The other benefit of these calming exercises is that by bringing awareness to body and mind, a child can connect to the inner self and experience a deep sense of peace and joy.