Friday 19 July 2019

Calming Breathing Strategies for Children

Both O and L struggle with emotional regulation and over the last few years, we've tried many different strategies. The one that they both keep going back to, is calming breathing techniques.

Calming breathing techniques have to be one of the best tools that we can equip our children with to use when they need to manage their own emotions. Both O and L have a sensory tool kit that generally goes everywhere with them. But at times, it just isn't possible to send the tool kit. Their breath on the other hand, they will always have that.

Teaching children different calming breathing techniques gives them a simple yet very effective strategy for slowing down, physically, emotionally and mentally. Calming breathing techniques can assist children to take notice of how they are emotionally and physically feeling and can also help them to relax and calm when they feel overwhelmed.

I've used calming breathing techniques for my own two little superheroes as well as with other children that have been in my care. A few years ago I found a book titled "Little Monkey Calms Down," which I used to introduce calming breathing techniques to O and L. I then went onto use the book in an early learning setting to explain mindfulness to children as young as two years of age. And you what? It actually worked.

I've found that if I model to a child how to use calming breathing techniques when they are experiencing BIG emotions, they are more likely to want to start using the breathing techniques themselves.

Now there are many, many sites on which you can find different breathing techniques and visuals, but unfortunately we've never been able to find visuals that both O and L liked. So over this past week, I sat down with O and L and they helped to make visuals using images that they liked.

We will print these out, laminate them and put them onto a small key ring so that they're handy for when O and L need to use them.

Dragon Breathing

O ... I like to do dragon breathing when I am angry or frustrated.
L ... Me too. It very noisy and good for when I angry.
O ... You can make lots of noise when you roar like a dragon which helps to get the anger and frustration out.
L ... Yeah, cos dragons can be very angry.
O ... Some dragons are friendly but they can be very noisy. To do dragon breathing you take a deep breath in through your nose. When you breathe out through your mouth, you roar like a dragon and all of your frustration and anger comes out with the roar.
L ... Yeah, like, ROARRRRRRR!

Snake Breathing
O ... Snake breathing is something that I like to do when I am sad because it's a sad sounding noise.
L ... This one too hard for me.
O ... It's okay L, we just need to practise it more, we can practise together. To do snake breathing, you take a deep breath in through your nose. Then when you breathe out through your mouth, you hiss very quietly like a sad snake. It sounds like a long sssss sound.
L ... Oh okay.
O ... I really like this one when I'm sad because it helps me to control my breathing too.

Honey Bee Breathing
O ... Some people call this Bumble Bee breathing but I like Honey Bee breathing better because I've never seen a bumble bee but I've seen lots of honey bees.
L .... You can buzzzz like a bee.
O ... You can! Or you can hum like a bee. I like honey bee breathing when I am worried as it calms me down and helps me to think a little clearer. To do this one, you take a deep breath in through your nose. Then when you breathe out through your mouth, you hum quietly. I like to do this one with my eyes closed so that I don't become distracted by what is happening around me.

Candle Breathing
O ... Candle breathing is another one that is good for when I am sad because it helps to slow down my breathing when I am sad or upset. I use this when I am hurt as well because it sometimes takes my mind away from whatever it hurting.
L ... Like when you broked your arm sissy?
O ... Good remembering L. To do candle breathing, you take a deep breath in through your nose. When you breathe out through your mouth, you have to imagine that you are blowing out a candle.
L ... A birthday candle!
O ... Just like a birthday candle but with one long slow breath.

Balloon Breathing
O ... Mummy, what is this one good for?
Me ... This one is sometimes called belly breathing,
L ... Belly breathing, that funny!
Me .... Belly breathing or balloon breathing helps to teach your body how to take deep slow breaths.
O ... So it would be good to help to calm you down if you're feeling sad or worried?
Me ... It sure would, but it takes practise because as you breathe in, you need to imagine that there is a balloon in your tummy that is expanding.
O ... We could use the expanding ball for this one!
L ... Oh I like that ball.
Me ... The expanding ball is great to use when practising this breathing. As you breathe in, you can expand the ball. And as you breathe out, you can make the ball smaller.
O ... You could pretend that your hands are the balloon too. When you breathe in, your hands could move apart like a balloon being blown up. And when you breathe, your hands could move together like the balloon is getting smaller.

Me ... Thank you for helping to explain all of these breathing techniques.
O ... You're welcome Mummy.
L ... You welcome Mummy.


  1. I did not notice the different breathing techniques. Love how you simplified it. I will have to show this to my kids.

  2. This is such a wonderful tips for Calming breathing techniques for kids! This is helpful a lot!

  3. I am glad to read this post, it's a good one. I am always looking for quality posts and articles and this is what I found here, I hope you will be adding more in the future. Thanks for sharing. breathing exercises for musicians

  4. These are really great tips. My almost 7 year old REALLY struggled when he gets angry or upset.


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