Updated: Apr 28, 2021
Breathing is one of the most effective ways to help kids calm down. Based on many studies, scientists report slow, deep breathing helps get more oxygen into the bloodstream, reduces the heart rate, and tells the nervous system that the situation is not an emergency. It has a physical effect on the body for calming down, slowing down, and lowering stress.
When children notice their breathing, it helps them notice body sensations, be in the moment, and regain balance.
In Mission:CONTROL! Joseph was ready for battle when it was time to go to bed. His breathing was shallow. During his big feelings adventure, he complained that his head felt funny as a result of the shallow breathing. When he took some deep breaths, he began to feel the physiological effects of breathing in calm and breathing out calm. With that pause, he began to feel better and he could think more clearly about what to do next.
An example of deep breathing is using a flower for inhaling the scent and a candle for exhaling (pretending to blow out the flame). After your child spends 4 seconds breathing in, 7 seconds holding their breath, and 8 seconds exhaling several times, you can ask the following questions and discuss responses:
Could you feel your belly move up and down? Did it feel like a balloon inside your belly getting blown up and then deflated?
Could you feel the air go in and out of your lungs? Could you feel them expand and contract?
How are your mind & body feeling? Calm? Ready to learn? Ready to try again? Are things moving slower? Are your feelings smaller?
When would be a good time to do this breathing exercise again?
Steps to take
Small step: Try out some apps such as Calm, which incorporates breathing. It is appropriate for both children and adults.
Advanced step: Try belly breathing with your child. Follow the link for how-to: https://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-and-experiments/practice-mindfulness-with-belly-breathing
Check it out
Get ready to "BLAST OFF" with Joseph and Gretchen in their exciting big feelings adventure "Mission: CONTROL! A Big Feelings Adventure!" Buy your copy here.