Children regularly have big emotions, and it can be more difficult for them to calm down than it is for adults. Sometimes even when we tell kids to take a deep breath they start hyperventilating, coughing, or choking. They may need a little extra help.
First we want to educate children on why deep breathing is helpful to them. I usually tell children that when we become overwhelmed our body often goes into “fight flight or freeze.” This results in us wanting to fight others in ways like hitting or biting, run away or freeze up, which makes us not be able to think clearly. Deep breathing can help our mind and bodies to return to a more relaxed state where we can make better decisions.
Ways that we can practice effective deep breathing to help with our emotional state:
1. Balloon Bellies!
- We want kids to learn to take BIG and DEEP breaths! When we breathe our bellies need to expand super big. Then we “pop” them with our finger and very slowly deflate while we exhale.
2. Use a Feather or Pin Wheel
- Hold it or let your little one hold it and blow with the intention of moving the pinwheel or feather.
3. Fire Breathing Dragon!
- Tell your child to take a big breath until their belly fills with fire. Then blow out super hard like a dragon. Try to exhale as much fire as you possibly can!
Learning how to manage big emotions can be fun for kids and the earlier we start trying to teach them the better!
About Shelton Piland:
Shelton is a Supervisee in Clinical Social Work and provides services at our Fredericksburg location. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in Sociology. Shelton received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Throughout her time at VCU she has worked with elementary, middle school, and high school students in the Spotsylvania Public School system. To learn more about Shelton, visit here.