Going back to school is always an eventful, complex and challenging time for kids. This year, due to the current global health crisis, the “uncertainty” element is heightened, and like us, our kids feel it. Deep belly breathing is a way for kids and adults alike to be more grounded and connected to their body. Now is the perfect time to show your kids how to breathe into their belly. 

Deep belly breathing helps to stimulate the vagus nerve by activating specific neurons that detect blood pressure. These neurons send a signal to the vagus nerve that the blood pressure is becoming too high, thereby causing the vagus nerve to lower the heart rate. Full, relaxed deep breaths also signal our parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body down. This type of breathing can also help us to manage our stress responses and decrease anxiety, fear, racing thoughts, a rapid heartbeat and shallow chest breathing.

With younger kids, tucking them into bed at night is an excellent time to gently put your hand on their belly and ask them to breathe into your hand. As they are breathing into your hand, ask them how they are feeling about going back to school. You can then ask them to put their own hand on their belly and count to four as they inhale, and release with a long exhale. Get them to try it again without their hand there. Let them know if they are feeling afraid or anxious at school they can always feel better by breathing into their belly, with or without their hand there.   

Another method of focusing the breath is to breath into the heart centre. Doing so can bring a powerful shift in perspective. Sometimes when my five-year-old grandson is emotionally upset I gently put my hand in the center of his chest and ask him to breathe into it. Just for a moment or two. Then I let him be but I continue to watch him, and a shift happens. When I’m ruminating, judging, worrying etc., I also breathe into my heart centre, and again, a shift happens. There is space. My thinking mind is quieted. I’m aligning to a higher perspective. There is a spaciousness that allows a different experience. 

Breathing is an easy technique to turn to at home or in the classroom when you or your child becomes overwhelmed. It can help you find grounding and calm in this uncertain time. If you would like to book a breathwork therapy or counselling session with Deedee Poyner, RPC, email us at info@evolvevancouver.ca