Even though you’re not convinced that those phrases really work, you continue to say them because you don’t know what else to say.
Deep breaths are a very valuable skill, unfortunately, most kids (and some adults) have no idea how to take a good, calming deep breath.
It’s not that they can’t, it’s just that they have never been properly taught the mechanics of deep breathing.
While your child is in a calm state, choose one of these deep breathing tricks and practice deep breathing together.
Deep Breathing Tricks
Remember to tell your child that the breath should go all the way down to their belly, not just raise their shoulders up and down. Encourage them to take a few seconds to inhale, wait, and then take a few seconds to exhale. Your child will be able to extend amount of time with practice.
Smell a Flower – Practice smelling various flowers, spices and other scents. Some children (especially small children) have difficulty inhaling through their nose. Once they have the idea, you can practice with a silk flower or even pretend to hold a flower in your hand as they inhale.
Blow Out Candles – Allow your child to practice blowing out a few candles (with adult supervision, of course). In the future, hold up your fingers as “candles;” encouraging your child to “blow out” one finger at a time with a big exhale (put one finger down for each strong exhale).
Pinwheel – Purchase an inexpensive pinwheel. Have your child hold the pinwheel a few inches from their mouth. Ask them to inhale and then use the exhale to spin the pinwheel. As they master breathing from that distance, challenge them to extend their arm and see if they can continue to make the pinwheel spin.
Bubbles – Encourage your child to blow into the bubble wand with a steady, even breath. Contrast this with what happens when they blow into it with a quick, sharp breath. Most often, kids find that they can blow better bubbles when they take a deep breath and blow into the wand slowly.
Stuffed Animal Ride – Have your child lie on a couch or bed and place a medium-size stuffed animal on their belly. Ask your child to take a deep breath. As your child breathes, the animal will rise and fall with the inhale and exhale. Your child can also put their hand on their belly instead.
Many of these strategies are written with very young kids in mind. However, don’t let the simplicity fool you! Older kids, teens and adults can use these visuals to learn and practice deep breathing. Feel free to tailor these visuals to fit the needs of your child.