The Global Classroom’s Top Five Breathing Techniques for Children
In our previous classroom, One Global Body, guest speaker James Nestor – who will also be featured in Deep Breath – discussed the importance of breathing for our wellbeing. He explained: “How we breathe affects us in so many ways. It affects how we think, it affects how we move, it can even affect our growth.” It’s therefore clear that teaching our children to breathe correctly is critical to their physical and mental wellbeing. Below, we outline the importance of deep breathing alongside our top 5 breathing techniques for children.
Why is deep breathing beneficial?
Different emotions release different hormones, which are dealt with using varying levels of energy. Various scientific studies indicate that the main benefits of using basic breathing techniques are:
- Relaxed muscles
- Reduced anxiety and overwhelm
- Increased energy levels
- Decreased stress levels
These benefits are useful across all aspects of daily life. Relaxed muscles are particularly useful for exercise – most injuries occur during sport when your muscles are too tight and aren’t prepared for the activity. So, using breathing techniques before sport can promote healthier exercise and limit sports-related injuries.
Given that deep breathing reduces anxiety and feelings of overwhelm, sharing basic breathing techniques with your children can help to prepare them for the emotionally challenging moments in their lives. When your children have the tools to manage their emotions, they’re bound to be happier and healthier.
If your child has important revision and exams coming up, then increased energy and decreased stress will be highly beneficial for your child’s success. These top 5 breathing techniques for children can be used to help them focus during revision sessions, or before an important exam.
Top 5 breathing techniques for children
Below, we cover our recommended top 5 breathing techniques for children. These include:
- Smelling the Flowers
- Bumblebee Breath
- Deep Belly Breath
- Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique
- Shoulder Roll Breath
These five techniques are suitable for a range of age groups. Some will be suited to younger children, whilst others will work best for older children.
Technique One – Smelling the Flowers
This technique is suited to younger children because it appeals to their vivid imaginations. Due to its simplicity, this is one of the easiest techniques on our list. As a result, it’s the perfect technique to use when you’re introducing your children to the world of deep breathing.
To teach your child the Smelling the Flowers technique, start by telling them to close their eyes. Next, guide them to imagine that they are holding a bunch of flowers, and that they should smell the flower by taking a long sniff through their nose.
Finally, advise them to let the breath go through their mouth. Guide them through this process a few times to engage their muscle memory. Explain that they should smell the flowers until they feel their body relax.
Once your child becomes comfortable with this technique, challenge them to include 4-7-8 breathing into the sequence. To add this into the technique, guide your child to count to four when they inhale. They should then hold the breath for seven counts before exhaling for eight seconds. If they’re struggling to reach seven counts, build up from four. 4-7-8 breathing is brilliant for reducing stress and clearing your child’s head of any distractions.
Technique Two – Bumblebee Breath
Another basic breathing technique targeted at younger children is Bumblebee Breath. This is perfect if your child is a bundle of energy and struggles to stay quiet and focused. As this exercise uses sound, it’s also a great one for encouraging them to use their voice.
You can start this technique by telling your child to imagine that they’re a bumblebee. If they want, they can cup their hands behind their ears to help them get into character. Direct your child to take a deep breath through their nose whilst keeping their mouth closed. Then, tell them to hum and buzz like a bee, keeping their mouth closed.
If their hands are cupped behind their ears, this will amplify the sound made during this basic breathing technique. The vibrations your child feels from this technique will naturally calm them down. Instruct them to repeat this until the ‘bee’ feels calm.
Technique Three – Deep Belly Breath
With our third technique, we move away from using imagination to assist breathing. Deep belly breathing allows your child to focus on the awareness of their breath. During this breathing exercise, they have the opportunity to appreciate the beneficial side effects of deep breathing, such as increased feelings of calm and control.
To begin, direct your child to place one hand over their belly while the other hand rests on their chest. This is a great tactic used within relaxation breathing. Next, instruct them to take a deep breath to the count of four. Once they reach four counts, guide them to exhale slowly through their nose and count to four again as they do so.
As your child breathes, encourage them to feel the rise and fall of their chest and belly. This provides them with something physical to focus on, which can be useful during moments of emotional anxiety, or before an important exam.
Technique Four – Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique
Learning about the diaphragmatic breathing technique is a great deep breathing exercise for older children. This is the developed version of technique three, the deep belly breath, but targeted towards adults and teenagers instead. This technique can be particularly useful for teenagers at the moment as they return to the traditional educational routine after their time studying at home. They may need to use breathing techniques to re-focus themselves throughout the day, or before their PE lessons.
The first step of this basic breathing technique is to lie down on a flat surface – the floor or their bed is perfect. Both your child’s knees and head must be supported, so they can use a pillow to aid this. Your child should then place one hand over their chest and the other just below their rib cage. The hand resting on their stomach will now be able to feel the diaphragm moving as they breathe.
To begin the deep breathing, direct your child to breathe in slowly through their nose. As they do so, they should feel their stomach rise slowly, moving their hand. The hand on their chest should remain as still as possible. Next, your child should tighten their stomach muscles as they exhale through pursed lips.
Children should repeat this until they feel their muscles relaxing and their mind begins to clear. Once they learn all about the diaphragmatic breathing technique, your children can use this technique on a chair as opposed to lying down each time.
You can push this exercise further by encouraging your child to incorporate coherent breathing. This means that your child will structure their breathing through counting. They should begin breathing in for four counts, and breathing out for four. Slowly, they should build up and extend their timing to five seconds, and then six seconds. Using this additional technique will further improve your child’s concentration.
Technique Five – Shoulder Roll Breath
The final of our top 5 breathing techniques for children doubles as a muscle relaxer too. This basic breathing technique is useful for a child who has physical reactions to emotions because they are required to engage their body as well as their mind.
To begin, encourage your child to sit comfortably before they take a deep breath through their nose. Remind them that it’s important to relax their whole body as they breathe in. Next, direct them to roll their shoulders up to their ears whilst they count to three. To exhale, they should breathe out of their mouth and roll their shoulders down and back. They should try to push their shoulders as far away from their ears as possible whilst they exhale for four seconds.
This can be repeated until your child’s body has relaxed and their breathing is much more natural.
The importance of breathing
Our mental wellbeing underpins everything that we do. From relationships to success, mental health is always present. To live a happy, healthy life, it’s critical that your children incorporate healthy habits, such as basic breathing techniques, into their daily routine. As a result, they’ll enjoy increased happiness and higher energy levels, equipping them with the tools they need to perform their best in all parts of their life.
Keep an eye on The Global Classroom website for details of our upcoming event. Our next classroom will focus on the importance of breathing and will encourage our global students to find ways that they can breathe and re-focus throughout their day-to-day lives.
Now that you’ve read all about our top 5 breathing techniques for children, head over to our previous classes page to enjoy all of our existing classes for free right now. From writers and adventurers to scientists and artists, our classrooms have something to inspire every child.
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