How To Teach Your Child Deep Breathing

Deep breathing can help children bring their focus to something they can control – their breath – instead of thoughts and fears that can provoke anxiety. Not only this, but deep breathing has many benefits for both mental and physical wellness. Read on to see how to teach your child deep breathing and our six favourite resources.
Lots of adults don’t know how to breathe properly, never mind children! Ever noticed yourself constantly breathing shallow breaths? Or perhaps you’re a mouth breather? When was the last time you took a good deep breath? Breathing is so subconscious, it’s something we rarely ever think about, but it’s also directly linked to many mental and physical benefits.
 
Newborn babies are incredible breathers – they have the natural instinct to breathe properly using their diaphragm (muscle under their lungs) – if you watch them for a short period of time, you’ll see their bellies expand and chest rise and fall as it fills with air.
 
As we get older, we can lose this instinctive breathing, and for many adults, we can become shallow breathers who have a tendency to pull air though our mouths. Breathing patterns can change as we age too, due to things such as our environment, anxiety, stress, pollution, temperature and more.
 
Did you know that if you’re a mouth breather you’re more prone to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea? Or that by constantly taking shorter breaths and not letting your lungs fill, this can lead to an impaired immune system, increased heart rate and high blood pressure? (Have we made you take a big deep breath yet!?)
 
Most of us don’t know the true benefits of deep breathing, it’s not something that we were taught when we were younger. But we believe that by helping your child to take good, deep breaths and practising regular breathing exercises from a young age, they will grow up actively using and knowing one of the best coping mechanisms out there.
 
Benefits of deep breathing
 
Learning to deal with feelings of frustration, anger, hurt, or disappointment can be a really big job for a child who isn’t able to articulate their thoughts and feelings very well —but learning how to manage big feelings is important if they wish to become an adult who can cope with and manage the ups and downs of life.
 
Deep breathing has many benefits, including:
  • Decreasing stress
  • Feeling calm
  • Relieving pain
  • Detoxifying the body
  • Improving immunity
  • Increasing energy
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improving digestion
  • Supporting correct posture.
 
How to help your child learn deep breathing
 
We’re not going to lie, it can be hard for a very young child to grasp how to take a deep breath at first – as it’s something they’ve probably never thought about! Plus, for children who like to be active, it can be difficult to get them to focus and sit still long enough! Some children can take to it straight away, whereas for others, it may take a few times for them to really get to grips and see the benefits.
 
  • Keep trying
 
We would always recommend introducing deep breathing to your child when they are calm and ready to learn. Tell them that this can be a useful tool for when they get upset, angry or overwhelmed. Let them know that by becoming more mindful of our breathing, this can actually make us healthier! Take their lead – if they’re bored or don’t like it, forget about it and try again another time.
 
  • Use bubbles
 
Bubbles are a great way of teaching your child how to take a deep breath, the way they draw their breath in and push it out to blow the bubbles through the air. You can show them that by inhaling slowly through their nose, this will help them to take in more air to blow the bubble even further!
 
  • Use the flower method
 
“Breathe in like you are sniffing a flower, breathe out like you are blowing a leaf.” You can practise this at the park using real flowers and leaves – what do the flowers smell like, how far can they blow the leaves?
 
  • Make it fun
 
Kids are very visual and like to see images and engaging techniques can work well. You can use some of our interactive breathing resources to help with this, we’ve listed some of our favourites below!
 
Our six favourite breathing exercises
 
  • Nature Breathing Cards
Is there anything more calming than nature? Our nature breathing cards bring the outside in – directing your child’s finger round the nature inspired shapes, teaching them when to inhale, pause and exhale. You could even try these outside by finding them in nature and using the same techniques – although we would suggest you forego the sun and rainbow breathing in that case!
 
  • Mindful Finger Tracing
Mindful Finger Tracing is one of the most effective ways to help children and adults calm down fast by having them focus on controlling their breath and finger. We have these fun Mindful Finger Tracing cards which are shaped like animals, and we also have our Halloween Pumpkin Tracing which is new this week to the Hub!
 
  • Rainbow Breathing
We have a few different rainbow breathing activities on the Hub including our Grounding Rainbow (a two in one breathing and grounding technique) and our Rainbow Breathing Craft (pictured). We also have rainbow breathing activities in our Nature Breathing Cards and some of our resource packs! Lots and lots of positivity inspired rainbows!
 
  • Shape Breathing
We have two versions of our Shape Breathing – one for younger children which is simpler and one for older children which involves counting breaths and pausing for longer. We would recommend you choose which is best suited to your child depending on age and their capability with deep breathing.
 
  • 5 Finger Breathing
This is one of our most popular breathing activities and one of the most simple – this can be done from anywhere simply by using your own fingers. Teach children to trace around the outline of our hand – or their hand – breathing in and out.
 
  • Bug Breathing
We know that a lot of younger children LOVE bugs with a passion (whilst others find them icky!) – so we created our Bug Breathing cards just for them. Similar to other breathing techniques, have your child trace their finger round the bugs following the prompts to breathe in, pause and breathe out.
 
We have adult breathing exercises too!
 
Did you know that we have adult breathing resources too? Including our Adult Finger Tracing below? You have access to all our adult resources as part of your membership!
 
Try our free Mindful Monsters eGuide…
 
If you’re not a member, you can try our free Mindful Monsters eGuide which details some fun breathing exercises to try at home or in the classroom. You can view it here.
 
Sign up to access our Breathing Resources
 
If you fancy signing up to access any of our breathing resources above, you can do so here.

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