belly breathing

Deep Breathing for Children

As promised, here is a post on helping your child learn deep breathing techniques or belly breathing.  Deep breathing is a quick trick to help alleviate anxiety and calm worries.

When teaching a child this technique, there are 2 different ways I approach it, depending on the child’s age, developmental level, and comfort.  Most children are open about practicing techniques in front of others, but older children may feel a little weirded out when you start asking them to perform belly breathing in front of you, especially if they already have anxiety.

Trick #1-Teaching deep breathing using Bubbles. soap-bubbles-870342_640

I have a pack of bubbles in my office like this one that I can hand out to children in sessions.  I have the child blow bubbles and discuss how hard/soft to blow to get lots of bubbles or big bubbles.

I then suggest this as a trick to help them fight off their worries or (fill in the blank)-tummy ache, jitters, etc.-most of the time children cannot label anxiety/nervousness/worries.  But they can tell you what somatic complaints they have easily, which is a sign of anxiety depending when and how often it’s occurring.   (Please be advised that tummy aches do not mean your child has anxiety.  If you are concerned your child may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, schedule an appointment for further assessment with a Pediatrician or Mental Health Professional.) 

 

Trick #2- Teaching Deep Breathing using a stuffed animalbear-678607_640

Have your child lay down on his/her back comfortably and place a small stuffed animal on their belly.

While directing them to slowly breathe in through their nose and out their mouth, guide them to watch the stuffed animal move up and down on their belly.

This will teach them belly breathing, and they can visibly see if they are breathing correctly.  Most times, this is modeled for the child by first doing the technique and then asking them to teach it back to me.  Children love to be the teacher!  I always end a session reminding them to teach their parent what they learned.  This keeps parents involved in progress and helps them hold the child accountable to practice daily.

Alright, that’s it-2 simple ways to help your child practice deep breathing!

Belly Breathing

One of the most common tools I teach teens and adult clients is belly breathing.  It is one of the most successful tools when treating anxiety and fear.  This trick can calm you down quickly and can be used ANYWHERE, which is what I love about it.

Belly breathing is also known as deep breathing.

Before you practice this technique, I want you to imagine your belly is a balloon….

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OK—Got it?

When air is blown into a balloon, it inflates.  So as you breathe air in, your belly will inflate like a balloon.

When you release your breath, your belly should deflate as a balloon would when slowly losing air.

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Step 1: Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.

Step 2: Clear your thoughts

Step 3: Take a slow deep breath in through your nose, slowly counting to 7, while focusing on your belly rising.

Step 4: Hold that breath for 2-3 seconds.

Step 5: Slowly release your breath, counting to 7, while your belly releases air.

Step 6: Repeat for 1 minute.

The trick to this technique is that you are breathing through your belly—Not— your chest.

Practice this Belly Breathing daily to build your stamina and increase the number of seconds you are inhaling and exhaling.  Work your way up to increments of 5, 10, 15 minutes of deep breathing.

A relaxed body cannot be an anxious body…

More on how to teach deep breathing to your child in the next post…