Fun Breathing Exercises that Kids Will LOVE to Practice
Post Summary: Understanding deep breathing benefits + Fun breathing exercises for kids that will help when they are anxious, frustrated, angry or overexcited + (Free PDF) BREATHING EXERCISES FOR KIDS Worksheets (download link at the end of the post)
Deep breathing is often one of the first relaxation techniques that us adults turn to when we need to get our tension or stress under control.
We know that when we slow down our breathing rate and take in deep breaths we immediately start feeling the benefits of this easy and useful technique.
But, we often fail to teach it and use it with our kids.
If you tried in the past and felt it didn’t work, chances are you missed either one of these steps:
- Practicing breathing techniques while your child is calm and happy so that your kids can use them when they need to relax
- Making them so fun that they are an enjoyable activity on their own.
I will try to tackle the second issue in this post and show you how we can make deep breathing for kids fun and interesting.
We will try to understand first some basics about breathing and its benefits. And, we will subsequently learn a collection of breathing exercises for kids that will make this soothing tool a lot easier to put into practice.
What is Breathing?
Breathing is a vital process that supplies oxygen to our cells and disposes of carbon dioxide.
The rate and depth of breathing are automatically (and unconsciously) controlled by homeostatic mechanisms. Rate and depth of breathing are influenced by our physiological needs and even our moods and emotional state.
For example, when we are exercising carbon dioxide production increases. Our body responds by increasing the rate and depth of breathing to facilitate greater oxygen absorption.
Examples of changes in breathing patterns linked to emotional states and moods could be our increased breathing rates in anger or anxiety situations.
The automatic breathing pattern that we have described can change to facilitate different activities like:
Cycle of Breathing
Breathing has the following cycle:
- Inhalation: air enters our lungs and reaches the alveoli where it diffuses into the bloodstream
- Internal Retention: after inhalation, there is a brief retention pause with a larger volume of the chest cavity that facilitates the gas exchange (oxygen enters and carbon dioxide exits)
- Exhalation: Carbon dioxide reaches the alveoli and it is subsequently flushed out of our body
- External Retention: Exhalation is followed by a pause where the lungs remain at rest.
Deep Breathing Benefits
Deep breathing has multiple benefits such as:
- helping to reduce anxiety and stress
- helping to reduce pain sensation
- improving concentration
Why do breathing techniques work?
Anger or anxiety are emotions that result in excessive physiological arousal. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to use physiological deactivation techniques such as breathing exercises.
In psychological practice, training in deep breathing is often used either as a standalone technique to control excessive physiological arousal or as part of a relaxation package.
Some examples of exercises that help children learn deep breathing are: make soap bubbles, breathe in pretending to smell a flower and breathe out pretending to blow out a candle or slowly inflate a balloon.
FUN Breathing Exercises for Kids for Home or the Classroom
Breathing exercises help relieve anxiety, anger, and frustration.
We will stand better chances of successfully using breathing techniques with kids if we make them fun, and interesting, and they relate to their interests.
Easy breathing exercises
These are some examples of exercises that help children learn deep breathing (we also used these activities when we were working with our speech therapy on strengthening muscles) :
- Blow soap bubbles
- Blow a pinwheel
- Place pieces of cotton on a flat surface and blow on them to move them along.
- Blow a candle
- Ask your child to pretend to smell a flower / pretend to blow out a candle
- Deep breathing while Mum/Dad counts to 10
Shape breathing techniques use simple shapes (square, triangles, stars, etc.) that the child will trace with the finger while practicing deep breathing.
I believe this type of breathing technique works really well with kids because:
- it removes the focus from the anger or anxiety outburst
- it moves the attention towards a totally different activity (the finger tracing)
- it supports the breathing exercise by giving cues on when to breathe in and out
- this new activity requires concentration and precision. Tracing the shape requires visual-motor coordination (the ability to coordinate vision with the movements of the body or parts of the body), the kid needs to coordinate his vision with the movement of his hand/finger tracing the shape.
- Lazy 8 Breathing exercise. This breathing technique is very simple and consists of tracing the 8 shape with your finger taking a deep breath in as you go through the first half and breathing out as you cross to the second half.
- Using shapes /props to learn breathing techniques:
You can teach deep breathing to children using other types of shapes (triangles, stars, squares). They are variations of the same type of exercise.
Yoga breathing techniques
Yoga breathing techniques are also known as “Pranayama”.
The reason why these techniques have made it to this list is not just because of how useful they are, but also because pretending to be animals while we learn to breathe make them really fun.
- Lion’s Breath
- Go to the floor on all fours, as if you were a lion
- Take a deep breath through your nose
- Open your mouth as big as you can
- Stick your tongue out
- Eyes wide opened
- And, ROAR!
- Bumble Bee Breathing
- Breathe in
- Breathe out with your mouth closed, while you hum like a bee
- Repeat this breathing sequence for a few minutes
- Crocodile Breathing
- Lie on your tummy
- Fold your arms above your shoulders and rest your head on them (it helps you start deep breathing)
➡️ Read MORE yoga breathing techniques for kids and get your free poster
Belly Breathing Technique
- Belly Breathing (diaphragmatic breathing).
In diaphragmatic breathing, the breathing is done by contracting the diaphragm. The air enters the lungs, the chest does not rise but the belly pushes outwards.
Belly breathing is a very simple exercise that kids will be able to learn easily. But we can make it even more fun by using two different techniques;
- Imagery: Using our child’s imagination with the “Balloon Breathing Technique”
- Using props, like a soft toy.
Read in more detail ➡️ belly breathing for kids.
Other deep breathing exercises
- Alternate nostril breathing
Place your thumb on your right nostril and your middle and index on your left nostril. Hold your right nostril closed with your thumb and breathe in slowly through the left one. Breathe out through the right nostril while closing the left one. Hold your breath a couple of seconds and breathe in through your right nostril, keeping the left one closed. Continue alternating sides.
What do you think about breathing exercises for kids now?
Yes! They can also be a fun activity for home or the classroom.
Download your free breathing exercises for kids (worksheets) by filling in your details bellow:
10+ Fun Breathing Exercises for Kids