Just like a computer restart or reset fixes tech issues most of the time, breathing properly can help us reset our nervous systems, especially when dealing with anxiety and overwhelm. Keep reading to find out how to reset our system with our breathing, and most especially help kids understand the importance of slow and steady breaths with fun exercises.

The Breath is Your Superpower

You can probably tell when you, or the people around you, are dysregulated emotionally just by listening to the rate and rhythm of the breath. Slow and steady breaths mean a focused brain, regulated body, and active social engagement system. Short, shallow, choppy breaths often mean fight-or-flight response, stress, or emotional flooding. 

If you can regulate your breath, you can regulate your body and nervous system, and in turn your brain and your emotions, impulses, and attention. Who doesn’t want that superpower?

So while we’ve all probably noticed the way our mood impacts our breath, the opposite is also true. We can adjust our breath to adjust our mood. While I wouldn’t recommend trying it, hyperventilating with short shallow breaths is like calling 911 for your nervous system, setting off alarms and putting your body and brain into fight-or-flight response. Extended, deeper breaths tell the body and brain to relax, focus, feel confident and trusting.

How to Teach Mindful Breathing to Kids

So how can we breathe in a way that helps us feel more calm, and how can we teach young people? Slowing and deepening the breath to about five or six breath cycles per minute is what hits the reset button and sends the “all clear” signal to the nervous system. 

So when it comes to teaching kids to regulate their breath, how do we make it fun, so that they are not easily bored? 

3 Ways to Make Mindful Breathing Fun 

  1. Kids can have fun with the Jurassic Breath by breathing in, holding their little arms up like a T-Rex, then letting out an extended roar. They can stretch out their arm like an excavator arm as they breathe in and then scoop imaginary dirt as they breathe out. 
  2. Who doesn’t love P for Pirate Breath, letting you breathe in the salty sea air, and then breathe out with a hearty “ARRRR!!!!”  
  3. Or perhaps celebrating a special occasion with C—the  Cake breath, breathing in, imagining a big birthday cake in front of them, then blowing out and making a few wishes. Maybe one wish for themselves, one for their friends, and one for the whole world.

Breathing doesn’t have to be boring, and with kids we can find fun ways to hit that reset button in our lungs, giving ourselves and our days a fresh start.

To learn more or to book your own breathwork session with Deedee Poyner, RPC email us at info@evolvevancouver.ca

DISCLAIMER: These posts should not be used to self-diagnose or self-treat any health, medical, physical or psychiatric condition. Information shared via posts does not replace professional healthcare advice specific to your condition and needs. If you are unsure whether you would benefit from implementing tools discussed in these posts, please contact your healthcare provider.