I love training in martial arts. There's something really fulfilling for me to be able to master a new technique while getting a really great workout in. One aspect of martial arts that I really connect with is the need to breathe. We all struggle with different challenges. We are all more capable of handling life's challenges a little bit easier if we can just breathe.
Gentri, Help Me Grow's Call Center Manager, wrote an amazing article on Coping Techniques to Use with your Child. I love tip #1 that she shares about "cookie breathing." Children LOVE to blow on their cookies and parents like that it helps calm their children.
Children also love to pretend to be animals and these fun breathing exercise lets them do just that while becoming calm.
These can also be a great transition activities to help bring the calm after a high energy activity. It's also just great to be able to reinforce the breathing techniques so you can use them whenever the need arises. For example, you can utilize these techniques when your son has a major breakdown in public when he didn't win the car from the drawing that he was positive was going to be his.
Let's go through some breathing exercises you can do with your child.
Snake: Inhale a deep breath, exhale through your mouth making a hissing sound like a snake.
Bear: Imagine a bear hibernating. Inhale through your nose. Pause and count three, two, one, and exhale again while counting three, two, one. Repeat it five times.
Elephant: Stand with your feet wide apart. Dangle your arms in front of you like an elephant trunk. Breathe in through the nose and raise your arms high above the head. Breathe out through your mouth while swinging the arms down. Repeat three times.
Bunny: Imagine sniffing like a bunny. Breathe three quick sniffs through the nose and then exhale one deep breath through your mouth while counting to three.
Bumble Bee: Sit comfortably with your legs crossed and close your eyes. Put your fingers in your ears. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out with your mouth while buzzing like a humming bee.
Monkey: Cross your legs and sit up tall. Bring your hands in front of your belly. Take a deep breathe in and stretch one arm up to the sky. With a quick, powerful exhale breathe, bring your hand back down. Switch hands. Repeat.
Practice these breathing exercises when you are both having fun. This way, you'll be able use them during moments of distress. One of my favorite ways to practice animal breathing is to make it into a game. Tape up a moving box (anything you have laying around the house). On each side of the box, tape a picture of an animal. Invite your child to throw the box into the air. When it lands, breathe like the animal that is on top. Click here to print off animal pictures!
These breathing exercises are super fun to make into games, but even more amazing when you can use them during a moment of distress. Hopefully these breathing exercises will help your child be able to calm quicker. It's a double-win if it helps you breathe a little easier as well. Have you tried these techniques with yourself or your children? Let us know in the comments below!