Breathing Techniques for Kids

in Blog

Emotions can often run high as children learn to self-regulate. Making new friends, learning a new game, and spending time with loved ones can spark excitement—this can all be positive.

But, as all parents know, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. 

Here’s an example. It’s a typical morning in your house, and your child plays quietly. Maybe they slept less than usual, but everything seems okay. 

Unfortunately, everything is about to change because it’s the first day of school, and it’s time to leave. And when you interrupt playtime, your little one immediately melts down.

Many things might have triggered this abrupt shift in mood. For example, the child might not have gotten enough sleep, be upset by the change in routine, or feel anxious about a new experience. This is a natural reaction for a child who doesn’t yet know how to regulate their emotions. 

Our duty as parents and caregivers is to help children learn to navigate these emotions. 

Breathing techniques are a great way to break the pattern of an emotional meltdown. They help restore emotional calm through simple, physical actions. Best of all, the technique is simple enough for children to learn and apply as they grow older. Read on to learn more about how to help your child navigate these big emotions.

BLOOM is dedicated to helping families find harmony and thrive together, regardless of their stage in life. Our in-depth courses address common parenting concerns – from anxiety and ADHD to promoting healthy aggression and emotional regulation.

What Are Breathing Exercises?

Breathing techniques help control your rate of breathing.

Think about the last time you felt stressed or anxious. Your breath probably became shallow and rapid. This increases oxygen as part of the “fight or flight” response. 

We can slow our breathing back down with mindful breathing exercises. This sends signals to our brain that it’s okay to relax. 

In this context, mindful breathing is a form of self-soothing. Teaching it to children equips them to calm themselves down, even without adult intervention.

Do Breathing Exercises Work?

Breathing techniques help manage emotions and trigger calm. You might even do it already without realizing it.

Most adults have techniques for centering themselves and regaining control of their feelings. In addition to deep breathing, you might count to ten, get some fresh air, or exercise. 

It doesn’t always come naturally to children. While some learn to regulate themselves easily, others need a little help. And you can provide that help by teaching them simple strategies like this one.

Deep breathing can help children do more than calm down after a meltdown. It can help them reduce stress, boost their mood, and improve their mental health. 

People have practiced breathwork for centuries through Yoga and other methods, using it to master their minds and bodies.

And science backs it up:

In 2016, the National Institute of Health found that deep breathing techniques could improve mood and reduce stress. In other words, children could apply the method to help face stressful situations like doctor’s visits.

A 2018 Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience study found that breath control could help people increase their focus on tasks. That means it could help children focus in school or on their favorite hobbies. 

A recent study published in Nature found that breathing exercises could improve mental health.

Learning to use breathing techniques can lay the foundation for healthy coping mechanisms that last a lifetime.

With it, children can learn to pay closer attention to their bodies and control their emotions. These skills are essential for navigating life's ups and downs.

Walkthrough: A Simple, Kid-Friendly Breathing Technique

Here’s a fun and easy breathing technique you can use with your children.

You’ll need: 

  • A few uninflated balloons 
  • A willingness to have fun

Step 1: Get Ready

Give your child one balloon and stand behind them. If they’re small, squat or kneel. Then, place your palms on the lower part of your child’s ribcage. 

Step 2: Take A Deep Breath

Now, it’s time to get ready to blow up the balloon. Start by encouraging your child to take a deep breath. You can model this process by inhaling along with them.

Step 3: Blow Up The Balloon

Using all that air they’ve just gathered in their lungs, begin blowing up the balloon. As they exhale, press gently but firmly on their ribcage with your palms. This will help them focus their breath and learn to engage their diaphragm. 

Step 4: Release and Repeat

As your child finishes exhaling, release the pressure on their ribs so that you’re only touching them lightly. Then, repeat the process and encourage them to focus on taking deep, slow breaths as the balloon inflates. 

Do this several times until they’ve blown up a few balloons.

This playful activity uses the balloon to illustrate deep breathing, helping them better understand the technique. 

Integrating Breathing Techniques into Daily Life

Once your child becomes familiar with the balloon exercise, you can start integrating these techniques into daily life without the balloon—or with an imaginary one.

Here are a few examples: 

- Morning routine: Start the day with a few deep breaths together as a family to set a positive tone for the day ahead.
- Homework time: Take a few deep breaths before tackling homework or other tasks that require focus and concentration.
- Bedtime rituals: Wind down with a guided relaxation exercise to prepare for sleep.
- Stressful situations: When something unexpected or upsetting happens to you or your child, pause together to take deep breaths and calm down.

By making breathing techniques a regular part of your family routine, you promote emotional well-being and create healthy habits your children can rely on repeatedly.

Teach Children to Find Calm with Breathing Techniques

As parents and caretakers, we always seek new tools and strategies to help our children grow happily and healthily. Breathing techniques are easy for children to learn and can help them control their emotions, build resilience, and overcome everyday challenges.

As you and your child learn this new strategy, take it slow. New skills require practice and patience for children and adults alike.

Start by incorporating this balloon exercise into your daily routine. Then, gradually introduce mindful breathing into the other corners of your life.

Before long, you and your children will find increased focus and calm and lower stress. 

You can find even more strategies to help your child bloom into the best version of themselves. BLOOM is here to help – no matter what stage of life your family is in. Learn more about our approach, and try one of our online courses.

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