Although a child is born breathing deeply with his tummy, the KidsRelaxation website says that he will usually become a chest breather by the time he is 6 years old. Breathing with the chest restrains the amount of oxygen that enters the body. Therefore, it is important to teach a child how to breathe properly. Many simple exercises can help increase a child’s oxygen supply and encourage relaxation.
Isolate Body Parts
According to the FamilyEducation website, you can teach a child deep breathing through isolation of body parts. Have your child lie on the floor and tell her to tighten her toes. Then tell her to relax her toes, taking a deep breath as she does. Next, have her tighten her knee and the top of her leg, then relax and take a deep breath. Tell her to continue up the body, proceeding to the abdomen, arms, hands, fingers, face, etc. Remind her to take deep breaths with each muscle release.
Candle and Flower
The KidsRelaxation website recommends the “Flower and Candle” activity to encourage deep breathing. This exercise allows a child to relax with deep breaths as he uses his imagination. Have your child start by making a fist out of his left hand, imagining he is holding a flower. Have him form a fist with his right hand as well, pretending that he is clutching a candle. Tell him to inhale deeply as he sniffs the flower. Then, instruct him to blow out the candle. Encourage him to really inhale the scent of the flower and make sure the candle is completely blown out.
Help your child imagine what each breath looks like as she inhales it. The FamilyEducation website says that she should visualize what color it is, the scent, the warmth or coolness of it and the sound. Have her imagine the breath going down her throat, into the lungs and stomach.
This activity encourages deep breathing, allowing a child’s body to relax. Have your child imagine all of his worries. Explain to him that this exercise will help him blow out those worry bubbles so he can feel more relaxed. Using a bottle of bubbles, tell your child to think about anything that upsets him. Have him imagine blowing that concern into the bubble as he blows into the bubble wand. Tell him to picture the worry in the bubble as it drifts away. When it pops, explain to him that his worry has popped outside of him and can’t bother him anymore. Have him continue blowing bubbles until he is relaxed and calm.