Connecting with our breath is one of the easiest and simplest ways to transform our mood. And it’s the same with children too.
Breathing can help children learn how to relax and safely regulate their emotions, giving them a vital tool they can draw upon in times to upset.
Our family have had our fair share of difficult days since I became pregnant. Our 5 year old knows change is afoot and has required a lot of extra attention of late. We haven’t always known what to with his big feelings, but breathing has seemed to help.
Extensive research has shown that rhythmic breathing causes complex, beneficial physiological changes, including an improved supply of oxygen to the blood, more efficient brain functioning and better disposal of bodily wastes.
The benefits are quite astounding. Breathing can boost energy, deepen relaxation and sooth the nerves. The best thing? Breathing exercises are free and something that can be done anytime of the day, in any place without any extra resource.
Which means breathing exercises are a powerful tool in the heat of the moment when big feelings arise. And as a parent, it’s beneficial to keep calm in the face of those big feelings, which makes these exercises equally as important for us.
Here are some very simple and playful breathing activities that we use and would love to share with you.
- Hot chocolate breathing
This one is great for a reset in the heat of the moment, when those big feelings are starting to escalate and tempers are rising. It works especially well when you are modelling the activity and your child joins you.
Pretend you are holding a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Breathe in deeply through your nose and on the exhale (through the mouth), pretend you are blowing the steam away from the hot chocolate drink. Repeat several times.
Note that as with adults, when we get angry, there is no magic ‘switch’ that turns us from angry to calm. Sometimes that emotion needs to be ridden through. Therefore, your child may or may not engage in this breathing exercise at the peak of their heightened emotions. However, this is a good tool to have as the feelings start to escalate. Or to practice during calm times so that it can be tapped into in the heat-of-the-moment.
- Love heart breathing
A great breathing and stretching exercise to wake up to or practice before bedtime.
Start with your hands in prayer position over your heart. As you inhale, bring your hands up above your head in a stretch. On the exhale, take your arms out wide down your sides and back together in front of your body in a love heart movement. Repeat as many times as you wish.
- ‘I am a tree’ breathing
This one is great to do before bed to get out the wiggles, as it involves deep breathing, movement and shaking.
Start by standing tall and straight, like a tree trunk. On the inhale, stretch your arms up straight and high above your head like tree branches. On the exhale, sway and shake your arms and fingers like branches and leaves blowing in the wind. Keep breathing deeply in and out while you continue to be sway in the breeze.
These are just three ways to use fun breathing exercises with your kids, does your family have any favourites? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.