We got a bit of an introduction to breathing in last weeks’ post about meditation, and today I wanted to show you one other technique you can use for stress relief. What I like about this breathing tip is that you can teach your kiddos, as young as 3, to use it when they need to calm down and/or take a little space.
In my counseling with tiny ones, I used to help them understand when to use deep breathing, or belly breathing. As parents, I trust you know when this is so for now I’ll just leave you with some pointers you can use to talk to your kiddos about it:
– Mention they can use this Belly Breathing when they feel angry, scared, or sad
– Note it can be very helpful after a scary event to help them return to a calm state
– Explain physical symptoms: tight muscles, breathing hard and fast, stomach or head aches
You can teach your little ones how to practice deep breathing by going through the following motions with them:
1. Lie on your back and place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest
2. When you breathe in, feel the hand that is on your belly move/rise slightly higher than the one that is on your chest (the point here is to be aware of how we are breathing; when you breathe in and feel your stomach rise, it means that your lungs are filling with as much air as they can).
3. Hold the breath in for a few seconds and slowly let it out through your mouth
4. Continue until you feel the stress melt away.
An easy and fun way to teach this to your little ones is by using a balloon. You can have them decorate the balloon with paper, googly eyes, or sparkles and make a fun craft activity out of it!
Don’t tie up the balloon yet as you will need to blow it up several times to demonstrate the concept of your little one’s belly filling up with air. Give your little sprout’s a turn and see if they can blow up their balloon as well.
Once you’ve tried this several times, go ahead and tie the balloon. With your little one lying on their back, place the balloon on their belly and dare them to make the balloon rise high with each breath. It’s also fun to watch it fall back down on their belly when they breathe out.
My favorite place to practice this breathing is while I’m getting ready to sleep. I mentioned last week I’m a night-worrier and this definitely helps my mind to wind down. I like the challenge of seeing how many breaths I can count up to before I fall asleep and try to beat it the next night 😉
The great thing about belly breathing is that once you have the specifics down, you can do it anywhere, no need to lie down.
Let me know if you have any questions and where you’ve tried belly breathing!