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How to Teach Children How to Breathe Through the Nose

By Ivy Morris ; Updated June 13, 2017

Everyone is born with the intrinsic knowledge to breathe, but not everyone knows how to breathe properly. Some children struggle to breathe through the nose, and instead breathe through the mouth. Open-mouth breathing lets in too much dry, unfiltered air that irritates the airways. Some open-mouth breathers also use the chest muscles, instead of the diaphragm, to breathe. Poor breathers may complain of sore throats, fatigue and muscle aches, in addition to feeling out of breath. Poor breathing can affect anyone, but it's especially hard on children with asthma. Through a daily exercise, a child learns to retrain his body to breathe from the diaphragm and through the nose.

Instruct the child to place her hands atop her head.

Tell the child to close his mouth and breathe in through the nose, as if he was taking a light whiff of something that smells good.

Instruct the child to relax and breathe out through the nose, pausing at the end as she exhales.

Ask the child to breathe in again through the nose and out through the nose until he develops a rhythm. If he breathes in softer or harder than he breathes out, correct him; demonstrate how you breathe through the nose.

Have the child bring her arms down to her side. Instruct her to continue breathing this way, letting the air come from the diaphragm, not the chest muscles. If she has problems, ask the child to place her hands atop her head and try getting into a breathing rhythm again.

Tip

Make breathing practice fun. Ask the child to blow a pingpong ball in a straight line across a table. During TV-time, have the child lie down with a bag of rice on his chest and instruct him to focus on breathing through the nose. Tell him to watch the rice rise and fall on his chest.

Remind the child to breathe through his nose during sports. This is especially important for a child with exercise-induced asthma.

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