Breathing Exercises for Kids (of all ages!)
All kids experience stress, fear, anxiety and grief, as well as frustration and anger, but many lack the skills to identify or cope with such feelings successfully.
Benefits of Breathing Mindfully
Breathing exercises reduce stress and other negative emotions, help stabilize blood pressure, strengthen immunity, and increase energy and oxygen levels in blood.
A spike in adrenaline is beneficial when you experience real danger, but if you react to everyday occurrences as if they are threatening, your prolonged adrenaline rush is harmful. Breathing and other relaxation techniques are capable of overriding this flight or fight response, so you don’t get stuck in a needless panic.
Use these breathing strategies for kids of all ages.
- Stuffed Buddy Belly Breathing: Place a stuffed animal on a child’s belly as they lay on their back. As they breathe in, direct them to fill their tummy with air and observe the animal rising. When exhaling, note how the animal goes back down.
- Blow Bubbles: Simply blowing bubbles can help regulate emotions. Pinwheels work well, too.
- Feather Breaths: Give the child a feather and have them brush the feather in their palm. Instruct the child to brush from wrist to fingertip while inhaling, and from fingertip to wrist when exhaling.
- Triangle Breathing: Draw a triangle on a piece of paper and breathe in with the child, counting 1-2-3 while tracing with your finger up one side, hold the breath 1-2-3 while tracing the second side, and exhale 1-2-3 while tracing the third side.
- Color Breathing: Instruct the child to imagine their favorite or a peaceful color. While breathing in, imagine the whole body filling with this color and with peace. Then imagine a disliked color that represents whatever negative emotion is at hand and see that color emptying out of your body while exhaling.
- Stop and Smell the Flowers: Either give a child a flower (real or fake) or let them imagine one. Have them breathe in the flower’s fragrance, then breathe out. Explain how flowers give us oxygen, and when we breathe out we give them carbon dioxide.
- Birthday Candle Breathing: Instruct a child to hold up fingers to be “birthday candles.” Have the child blow out the candles, one at a time.
- Snake Breathing: For snake breathing, have a child inhale 3 seconds, hold 1, then exhale with a hissing sound for 3 seconds.
- Bumblebee Breath: Tell the child to imagine they are a bumblebee and inhale deeply through the nose. Slowly exhale with a humming or buzzing breath. For added comfort, have the child cup their hands over their ears to add to the vibration.
Try to practice breathing techniques regularly in preparation for stress. Model breathing exercises and other stress reductions techniques around kids daily.