Breathing is a necessary process to sustain life in the body. The seemingly inconspicuous act of inhaling and exhaling can have a significant impact on a person’s mood and thoughts. Various breathing techniques have long been used as a way to relax not only for adults but also for children. Let’s take a look at the features of breathing exercises for kids.
What are the benefits of breathing exercises for children?
Nowadays, breathing exercises are not just a trend but an effective way to keep your body in shape, as confirmed by domestic and Western experts. Dr. Benjamin Mallin, a child hospital psychologist in Colorado (USA) and a doctor of philosophy, comments on the effectiveness of breathing exercises for children, saying, “In our challenging times, there are many ways to do breathing exercises – this is the easiest way to help a child stay afloat and effectively cope with stress.”
Dr. Mallin also states that families should take the initiative to teach their children these exercises. Mental health professionals have observed a surge in depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders among children and adolescents.
The regular practice of breathing exercises can have the following effects:
- relaxation of muscle tone;
- reduction of mental tension;
- prevention of stress;
- normalization of heart rate;
- increase of oxygen concentration in the body.
Deep breaths can calm a child both physically and mentally. Breathing exercise techniques activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls reactions to stress. Here are some effective breathing exercise techniques for children.
Effective breathing exercises for children
The foundation of all breathing exercises is diaphragmatic breathing. The correct technique is achieved through deep inhalation and smooth, slow exhalation. However, it can be challenging to get a child to do breathing exercises periodically. This process can be made fun and beneficial by using a playful approach. Let’s look at the simplest breathing exercises for children, which you may already be doing with your child, but not giving it much importance.
Blowing soap bubbles
Blowing soap bubbles is an excellent way to practice breathing relaxation. When a child blows a bubble carefully, the brain focuses on this delicate process, and breathing becomes the center of attention at that moment. Therefore, this method will be useful not only for relaxation but also for developing a child’s concentration.
To do this exercise, pick a flower for your child to smell, or let them imagine holding one in their hand. Ask the child to take a deep breath for a few seconds, filling their lungs with air. Once they have taken a full breath, tell them to hold their breath for one second, and then give the command to exhale slowly.
You can easily engage your child with this breathing exercise by explaining to them that the carbon dioxide we exhale helps the flower grow, just like the oxygen that plants release helps them and us grow.
Imitating animal breathing patterns
Another effective way to introduce a child to the culture of respiratory gymnastics is to imitate animal breathing. Within this method, the following options can be suggested:
- Snake breathing – let the child inhale through the nose for 3 seconds, then hold their breath for 1 second and exhale with a hissing sound.
- Rabbit breathing – tell the child to take 3 quick inhales through the nose, then one long exhale also through the nose. Emphasize that they should slow down their exhale every time they perform this breathing exercise.
- Bumblebee breathing. This technique combines the features of the two methods described above. The only difference is that on the exhale, the child needs to make a buzzing or humming sound, like a bee.
These respiratory exercises for children are suitable to use as varied physical games.
How to adapt a child to respiratory gymnastics
It is important to instill the culture of respiratory gymnastics from an early age. It is essential to teach a small child the basic principles of effectively performing breathing exercises. It is also important to pay attention to your own intonation.
Each of these phrases should be accompanied by a pause:
- “Let’s sit down to be comfortable”;
- “Close your eyes”;
- “Now inhale very slowly through your nose. Feel how your chest fills up with air and your stomach rises”;
- “Now hold your breath”;
- “Slowly exhale through your mouth. Notice how your chest empties and your tummy relaxes”.
In this sequence, under the supervision of a parent, several cycles of the basics of respiratory gymnastics can be conducted. Depending on your child’s level of concentration and interest, you can perform one breathing cycle at a time. Then increase the number of repetitions to 2-3.
When the child grows a little and adapts to the breathing technique, you can record your voice on an electronic medium. This will allow the child to use the recording when you cannot conduct the session with them yourself. Currently, there are also many smartphone applications available that can be downloaded for your child as a guide.
Teenagers can perform breathing exercises independently. A child can use your recording after experiencing stress or when they simply need to “let off steam” and relax. As a rule, a child who has been accustomed to the culture of breathing exercises from an early age performs them even without parental control.
So, from the numerous methods, we have selected the most effective and interesting respiratory exercises for your child. If the child understands how to do respiratory gymnastics and feels the results, this habit will become part of their daily ritual for many years.